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What is USB OTG and how to get the most out of it

22 mayo, 2021

The USB port of our mobile has many uses. We all know the basics: using it to charge the device, but it can give us more play if we have the correct cable or adapter. From transferring files to connecting peripherals, this connector can give us a lot of play and make life a little easier.

In many Android devices the USB connector (regardless of whether it is micro USB A or PC-type USB) has support “on the go” or OTG for its acronym in English. This means that we can use it to connect other devices and that do the job in much the same way as when we connect them to a USB port on a computer. These are very useful functions to make our smartphone more independent from a PC and turn it into an even more versatile tool.

MicroUSB and no fast charging: the condemnation of the mid-range

How do I know if my Android has USB OTG support?

USB OTG

When you check the technical specifications of your terminal in the typical product sheet you can find the details of the processor, the camera, how much RAM it has, the version of the operating system … but the normal thing is that it is not specified if the USB port is OTG or not. At first glance it is not something that can be identified either, since physically a port with OTG support is not distinguished in anything from the one that does not have it.

Doing a specific search for the name of our Android and the term USB OTG can also help us but if we do not want to complicate ourselves, the easiest thing is to install this application that will tell us as we open it if the mobile we are using is compatible or not. If it tells us yes, the most likely it will happen, we can use our connector for everything that we will see later.

If not, there is not much to do since there are no ways to manually enable support to be OTG Just like that. In any case, before you do the check, you can rest assured that most terminals have been with it for years so as soon as it is recent, you will not find a compatibility problem.

Keepa

USB OTG Check Version 1.1.1

How do I start connecting things to my mobile?

USB adapters

At the beginning of the article we talked about how to take advantage of the USB port of our mobile is similar to how we do it on a computer. Yes, but there is an important difference: a PC has full (large) USB connectors and a mobile phone usually has micro USB type A or the new USB type C. That is, we will need a cable or an adapter that is male at the end that will connect with our mobile and female in which we are going to plug new devices.

In any online store that sells computer or electronic accessories, we will find a lot of options. My suggestions, by construction and price, are this connector if we have a mobile with USB type A connector or this if we have an Android with USB C. As you can see they are cheap accessories (There are even more affordable options but with worse materials or without USB 3.0 support) and simple. Once we have gotten one of them, we just need to connect it to the mobile and on the female side, start plugging in USB devices.

What can I do with a USB OTG port on Android?

Connect a USB stick or hard drive

Usb files

The most basic and fastest use for the USB OTG connector of a mobile is to be able to use pendrives. Any USB flash drive will be detected as an external storage drive and we can interact with it from any file browsing application. It does not have to be any one in particular, any one is worth it. In my case I use Solid Explorer and it is perfectly compatible with reading any USB drive.

Once connected we can do everything: copy and paste files, open documents directly … For example, if you have little memory and are going on a trip, you can take videos on a pendrive and play them later from the mobile without compromising the internal memory that we have available. It is also very useful if you are working in a group and you cannot share documents in a virtual cloud, with an adapter and a pendrive we can copy or put files on the USB drive in a few moments.

Connect a USB keyboard and mouse

If you have a USB keyboard or mouse, you can also connect them to use them in the same way that you would use it on your PC. Connecting the first one is very useful if we do not have a Bluetooth option and we need write long texts without depending on the not always precise virtual keyboard that we have on our mobile. Remember that all this that we are explaining also applies to any tablet so if we use it to work or go to class, it can be very useful.

Use a wired controller to play games

Terraria

Other accessories like game controllers work well too. If they are from a console we have the option of synchronizing them wirelessly since they are all Bluetooth but if we have one with a USB cable we just have to plug it into the adapter and it will work right away. Android already has all the drivers ready so that we can use it without having to do any additional configuration.

Connect to the Internet via Ethernet cable

A very curious option, and for which we will need to have an Android with Marshamallow 6.0 or a higher version, is connect our mobile by Ethernet cable. Yes, it is possible and in this case we will need a specific adapter that converts the USB of our mobile into a female connector for this network cable, such as this one that they sell on Amazon for 12.99 euros.

Print documents

If you have a printer with a USB port, you can also use this adapter to send the documents through a cable, a good alternative if you are not able to connect with this peripheral through WiFi, Bluetooth or if we simply do not have these two options available. What you will most likely need is to install the printer manufacturer’s app since it is usually necessary to transfer documents.

Send photos from the camera or use it to control manual settings

Usb Camera

For photography there are also various possible uses: from transferring images directly from the camera (when we connect it to our Android it will recognize it as if it were a USB memory) to being able to use the mobile as a tool to control the manual settings of the camera and make changes in the exposure, aperture, ISO and other values ​​by touching the screen and not the camera dials.

Use a microphone or audio recorder

If you use systems sound recordingFrom recorders to microphones, you can use them as peripherals without major problem. In my case, I use a Blue Yeti sporadically and be able to make recordings from my mobile, although later I have to edit from a PC, it is very comfortable and useful when the microphone that comes with the mobile does not offer me enough quality.