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What is an OTG Cable and What Is it Used For?

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OTG Cord Cable

You probably know what a USB port is. You plug stuff into it, and it works.

But did you know that a smartphone can operate multiple different types of devices simultaneously?

OTG Meaning

USB OTG, short for USB On-The-Go, is a technology that enables direct connections between your smartphone or tablet and other devices, using a cable with a phone connector on one side and a USB-A connector on the other, for connecting to peripherals like external hard drives.

What is an OTG cable?

An OTG (On-The-Go) cable allows a smartphone to connect and interact with devices like keyboards, cameras, and hard drives, acting as a data access and transfer host. This specialized USB cable is designed for smartphones, supporting both powered and unpowered connections.

You can connect just about anything else to a smartphone via a special connector called an OTG cable.

This includes mice, keyboards, digital cameras, external hard drives, printers, speakers, and even scanners.

OTG cables work similarly to regular USB ports, but they’re designed specifically for smartphones.

They allow your phone to act as a host while still allowing you to access data stored on another device.

If you want to see how this works, check out our guide to connecting a camera to your smartphone.


smartphone external drive OTG cable

A peripheral is anything external to the main components of a PC—the CPU, RAM, hard disk, motherboard, etc.—that you use to interact with it.

Peripherals are usually plugged into ports located on the front panel of the system case.

They include things like OTGs, USB drives, micro USB, tablet PC, printers, scanners, webcams, microphones, speakers, joysticks, gamepads, mice, keyboards, headsets, cameras, and even networking hardware.

Differences Between USB And OTG Connection Cables or Adapters

USB is the ubiquitous standard for connecting peripherals to computers.

OTG stands for “on the go,” and uses a different set of pins than traditional USB ports. These include four data lines, one power line, and a ground connection.

An OTG connector is used to allow mobile phones or PCs to act as hosts, allowing them to connect to external storage devices such as hard drives and flash drives. In fact, most smartphones today come with an OTG port built into the side of the device.

A female connector is connected to the PC or Mac while a male connector is connected to the phone. This allows for data transfers between both devices, making it easy for you to transfer files and access media from one device to another.

A male micro USB connector is also available on some models of OTG cables, which connect directly to your device without needing an adapter.

A fifth wire is optional, and some adapters don’t require it.

A USB OTG adapter is also available, which features a USB plug on one end and a female micro-USB port on the other.

This adapter allows you to connect your phone directly to another device and transfer data without having to go through cables or connectors. With this adapter, you can even use your phone as an external storage device for storing media files.

Powered Or Unpowered USB OTG Cables?

OTG adapter

As we’ve seen, an OTG cable is just another piece of hardware that connects your phone to your PC or Mac.

But it’s important to know what type of connection it makes — and how much power it uses.

A few things could make a big difference in terms of the performance of your equipment and your smartphone’s battery life.

This little distinction matters, because most smartphones such as a Samsung Galaxy Note don’t provide enough power to support both types of connections.

Most phones only provide enough power to support unplugged connections.

An OTG adapter cable can help solve this problem. They include a built-in switch that allows you to choose either a powered or unplugged connection.

You can use a powered connection to charge your phone while you use it. Or you can use an unplugged connection to connect peripherals such as mice, keyboards, headsets, speakers, etc.

A powered OTG cable supplies power via the USB adapter. An unplugged OTG cable does not provide power. Instead, it relies on the host system to provide power.

OTG Adapter For iOS

iOS doesn’t automatically support OTG, unlike Android. This means you can’t use some accessories without having to buy a separate adapter.

A number of devices are supported over a lightning cable with an iPhone.

However, the functionality of some USB devices isn’t supported and drives with large-capacity storage may require an external hub.

Advantages Of OTG cables 

Playing Games

Playing games with a touchscreen is not always as intuitive as using a gamepad, so it is often required to find a way around it.

In many cases, you could simply buy a gamepad, but there are some situations where you might want to try connecting an external game controller to the system via an OTG cable.

This method works best for racing, shooting, or sports games.

Some devices support game controllers out-of-the-box, but others may require rooting your device. You can find guides to rooting your device online. 


USB C cables are becoming increasingly popular because they allow devices to charge each other.

This feature is called OTG mode, and it works just like a standard adapter USB cable.

All you need to do is insert the cable into both devices and then connect the power source to either end of the cable.

The OTG mode is extremely useful for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even some cameras.

You can easily recharge your smartphone or tablet while simultaneously connecting it to a laptop or desktop computer via a USB cable.

If you want to charge your phone with a different charger, all you need to do now is buy a USB Type-C cable.

If you have a MacBook Pro, iPad Air 2, iPhone 7 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S8, or Pixel XL, you can use a USB Type-C to Lightning cable to charge your device.

OTG Cord Cable (1)

Use As A Modem 

If you want to connect your smartphone to a wireless router, you might want to buy one that supports USB On-The-Go (OTG).

This allows you to use it like a regular computer mouse, keyboard, and printer. Most routers support USB OTG; however, some don’t.

In addition, many devices are compatible with both wired and wireless connections.

Recording Purposes 

While your phone’s built- in mic is sufficient in most situations, a real microphone is necessary if you want to record a high quality sound file.

If you’re looking for a way to connect your smartphone to an external microphone, there are several options out there. Some come with a USB port while others require an adapter. 

There are many microphone models which offer a USB connection, and with an OTG cable coupled with a dedicated application (such as USB AudioRecorder PRO), you can quickly turn your external mic into a working USB accessory.

The best thing about having an external microphone is that it allows you to use your smartphone as a stand-alone recorder.

With just one button press, you can start recording without needing to plug anything else into your computer.

This makes it much easier to capture spontaneous moments like a birthday party, a wedding ceremony, or even a live concert.

You don’t necessarily need to buy an expensive model. A few dollars spent now could save you hundreds later.

For example, the Blue Yeti USB Microphone is $40, and it offers some of the best features around. It includes a pop filter, windscreen, and XLR connectors.

And because it uses a USB connection, it works with almost every mobile operating system.

Final Thoughts 

The OTG cable lets you connect your Android device directly to your computer, allowing you to use it like a keyboard and type articles with your smartphone.

You no longer have to rely on Bluetooth keyboards, mice, and touchpads. It’s a super handy tool you can use for various functions. 

Matt Brook

With a background in Journalism and years of experience in the industry, Matt brings a wealth of knowledge to the WiredClip team.

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