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The USB Cable Guide: Do You Need Type-C, Micro USB, Or Lightning?

usb cables

Here’s a super quick guide to help figure out which type of USB cable you need to charge your mobile device. The three most common connection types for phones and tablets are USB Type-C, Micro USB, and Lightning.

If you use an Apple iPhone or iPad, you want a Lightning cable. Simple as that.

USB Type-C and Micro USB are a little trickier to determine because, at a glance, they’re both small and look pretty similar. Micro USB had been the default connector type for Android devices and other electronics, but USB Type-C is beginning to slowly take its place to become the new standard.

different cable connectors

One way to tell the two apart is that the Type-C connector doesn’t have a top or bottom. It’s an oval, so it doesn’t matter which orientation way you plug it in. Conversely, the Micro USB connector does have a specific way it needs to be plugged in because it’s flat on the bottom and angled on the top.

Devices with USB Type-C

There’s no hard and fast rule for whether your device will use USB Type-C. It could have been used for a device manufactured from 2015 onward. But, here are a few of the most popular devices that need a USB Type-C charging cable:  

  • Samsung’s Galaxy S8, S9, Note 8, A7, A5, A3
  • Google’s Pixel, Pixel 2, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P
  • LG’s V20, V30, G6, G7
  • The Essential Phone
  • Nintendo Switch

Motorola, Xiaomi, HTC, Huawei, and OnePlus each have USB Type-C devices as well.

If you don’t see your device listed here AND it’s more than a year or two old, there’s a good chance you need a Micro USB cable.

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The Best Travel Cases For Electronics For Under $50

You probably carry a bunch of electronic devices with you when you travel, but do you have a really good way to carry all the cables and chargers that go with those devices?

Almost everyone uses a toiletries bag to keep their personal care goodies organized when they travel – why shouldn’t we have the same for our electronic gadgets?

3 Key Features of a Tech Travel Organizer

After putting several electronics bags through the wringer over the years, here are the three main factors I consider when evaluating a tech travel case:

  1. Size: The size should be wide enough for your laptop charger, but not so bulky that you can’t fit it in your backpack or purse.
  2. Versatility: Make sure that there are enough pockets and straps to suit all of your gadgets, laid out in a way that will work for different cables and devices as your electronics change over the years.
  3. Price: If you want to throw down, that’s your prerogative, but, in the end, this is a bag for cables and small electronics. There are plenty of good-looking options for under $50.

Here are four the best options I’ve found – all of which meet the criteria above.

Bellroy Classic Pouch – $49

The curved nature of this “pouch” makes it feel smaller than it actually is, but still holds a bunch of cables and chargers–including being long enough to hold an Apple Pencil.

Aer Cable Kit – $45

With a book-like opening on one side and an open compartment on the other, Aer hits a lot of the needs for organization while remaining thin and manageable. The Cable Kit also has a handle, so you can use it stand-alone, if that’s all you want to carry.

Incase Nylon Accessory Organizer – $49.95

The Nylon Accessory Organizer is similar to Aer’s Cable Kit with a book-like opening, but provides a few more pockets, straps, and internal organization options.

There’s a very similar Incase Travel Organizer which is $10 cheaper if you’re looking to save a few bucks.

Topo Designs Accessory Bags – $19

This bag is just that, a single pocket bag. While it’s not the best option for a lot of situations, it’s flexibility allows it to be useful far into the future. It’s also stylish, well constructed, and provides plenty of space.

Throw in some cables, cards, chap stick, coins, adapters, and then throw it in your bag. Sometimes it’s freeing just putting miscellaneous items in a place to keep them from floating around.