micro vs mini usb

Mini-USB and Micro-USB Connectors

Written by John Swiatek
Photo by Rob Jackson

The retention mechanism for USB connectors can either be on the male (cord end) or the female (device - (gps) end). In the case of a mini-USB the retention is built into the female side (device). This has been identified as a flaw since it is more expensive to notice or replace than if it was on the male side (on the cord).

Often times the female mini-USB on the device fails due to multiple inserts and extractions. Vibration and lateral pressures seen in the powersport environment do not provide the little connector any favors either.

The newer micro-USB corrects this problem and puts the "fingers" that retain the connector in place on the male side of the cord. The female part of the micro-USB (device side) is therefore less prone to failure. This "retention failure mode" is a large reason the micro-USB (and not the mini-USB) has become the standard for most devices in Europe in 2010.

"Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, LG, NEC, Qualcomm, RIM, Samsung and Apple have all signed an agreement to make MicroUSB the standard charging/connectivity technology in Europe. This is awesome news for Euroconsumers who no longer have to worry about buying/matching proprietary cables from various manufacturers and it is surely an environmental victory as consumers frequently discard used cables that are in perfectly working condition simply because they aren't compatible with their current phone." says Rob Jackson of phandroid.com.

Another problem is often times the device manufactures (GPS, phone, etc) change the electrical specs for charging purposes. Companies like Apple, Garmin and Motorola modify the USB spec electrically so they can sense that a cable is used for charging only - no data transfers.

Powerlet USB, mini-USB and our soon to be released micro-USB connectors conform to all USB electrical and mechanical specs. Powerlet often supplies low cost adapters which are necessary to convert a standard USB connector to one that works with a specific appliance. For instance see our mini-USB adapter for Garmin GPS units. This adapter allows all Garmin units to charge from any standard mini-USB charger.