USB Charging Cable Types: Are they the same as USB Charging-only cables


The most common grievance around USB data cables is that they don’t essentially transfer information; instead, they charge the connected device. The data cable then resumes being a charging cable.  It is a prevalent misconception because these two types of cables are virtually similar in physical appearance. Sometimes, they are the same. But sometimes, you use them in different ways. Now, let’s understand how USB charging cable types work to avoid difficulties.

Table of Contents

USB Cable Understanding

You can call USB cables, USB charging cables, or USB data cables.

A USB cable has four wires, and a USB socket has four pins. The outer pins offer a power supply voltage of 5 volts together with the inner pins, which transmit data.

USB networks involve one computer and one device. The computer, in most cases, is the host, and the device is your peripheral. Power streams from the computer to the device, though data can move smoothly. 

Usb Cable Types According to Function

As mentioned above, people often confuse USB data cables with USB charging-only cables. How to differ them?

Charging-only cables

Plug into the socket of a USB charger at one end and the cable to the device connector. It can charge a smartphone or any portable device. Generally speaking, they have two wires.

Data Transfer Cables

USB cables can equally transfer power and data. To attain this, every USB cable structures two sets of wires. One set transmits the current, and the other transfers the data signals.

USB aids data transfer among components inside or between the computer and its peripheral devices. Once you connect a device using a USB, host computers detect the type of device and immediately load a program that allows it to operate. 

It transmits data between the devices in mini-sized data packets. The packets also contain the origin of the data, the data’s destination, the size of the data, and particulars of any faults spotted.

The various categories of data transfer include:

Interrupt Transfer

Mice and keyboards use interrupt transfer to send less frequent messages to the host for attention. These kinds of transfers are commonly for occasional but essential requests. The device sends it and waits for the host to respond to the demand it needs. If the initial transfer flops, it can retransmit the request. The transfer will communicate any changes to the device’s status. 

Bulk Transfer

Bulk transfers are mainly a minimum priority and have no time limit. The transmission slows down in case the host device has many peripherals. Printers and digital scanners for large amounts of data transfer use it.

Isochronous Transfer

It’s for video, audio, and other real-time data uses. As the transfer happens, if errors occur, they aren’t interrupted to sending the packets again. Data accuracy isn’t crucial in isochronous transfer. 

Control Transfer.

You can use the data transfer to configure, check the status, and control connected devices. The host requests the device, and data transfer occurs. It handles one control request at a time.

USB charging-only cable vs. USB data cable: What’s the difference?

  1. USB charging-only cables primarily charge devices, while USB data cables facilitate data transfer and charging.
  2. USB charging-only cables have two wires, while USB Data cables have four wires 
  3. USB charging-only cables are thinner compared to USB Data cables since they contain only a few strands of wires in the cable. In contrast, USB Data cables are thicker compared to USB Charge Only Cables because they contain more wires in the cable.
  4. USB charging-only cables aren’t popular in the market, while USB Data Cable is popular.

Different Types of Phone Charger Cables

There are various types of USB cables based on their physical architecture.

Micro-USB Cables

These cables are small and for mobiles and other appliances. It is necessary to connect the cable correctly to the port. If the connection is wrong, it will fail to charge the device. Take Care to prevent charging ports and cables from spoiling.

Micro USB Cable

Caption: Micro USB Cable

Type B Charger Cable

They’re on big printers, scanners, and other secondary storage devices. The cables have a unique square shape with inclined corners. The creation of modern devices and USB cables has made Type B ports outdated. 

USB Type C Cable

Most mobile manufacturers prefer USB-type C charger cables. They are faster and more powerful than the other types. There is no possibility of destruction to the device by incorrectly inserting the cable. The cables are backward compatible. 

USB Type C Cable

Caption: USB Type C Cable

USB Charging Cable Types: Apple’s Lightning Charger

The lightning phone charger cables have eight pins and allow insertion into the port in any direction. Since 2012, every iPhone model has used the same USB cable. One cord can charge different Apple gadgets.

Apple Lightning Cable

Caption: Apple Lightning Cable

USB Charging Cable Types: USB Types based on their speed

The typical USB 2.0 connector has four metal strips. Consisting of the outer two strips that’re the ground for the power supply and are positive. The two middle strips primarily function to transmit data.

However, with the latest USB 3.0 connector, data transfer speeds are faster because of adding extra data-conveying strips; four additional signaling wires to help the USB 3.0 realize its ultimate speed. Below are the maximum transfer rates for each USB version:

USB 1.0

Established in 1996, it had problems, and a better one, USB 1.1, had to launch in 1998 with a data transfer speed of 12 (Mbps).

USB 2.0

Set up in 2000; it improved the data transmission speed to 80 Mbps. Due to better current capability, it acts as a charger for other electronic components like mobile phones.

USB 3.0

Established in 2007 with a high 5 Gbps transmission speed. It was a significant upgrade to USB standards.

USB 4.0

It only uses Type C connectors and offers a top speed of 40 Gbps. USB 4 and Type C connectors look almost the same.


We have grouped USB cable types based on their function, physical architecture, and speed. And it is significant to know how USB charging cable types work to avoid any hitches. For all your USB charging cable needs, reach out to Cloom Tech.