USB OTG Everything You Need To Know

Gadget makers are trying to move towards a semblance of universal compatibility with USB-C. However, there’s still a mess of USB cables to deal with for now. Not every device works with another, even if it has the right ports. USB OTG, or USB On-the-go, is one feature that helps make our smartphones even more capable. Here’s everything you need to know!

What is USB OTG?
USB OTG is a specification for devices like smartphones and tablets. A compatible phone can act as a “host” and lets you use it with other USB devices like flash drives, keyboards, mice, and more. A USB OTG adapter is basically a microUSB or USB-C cable that runs to a female USB port and lets you plug a slew of peripherals into your phone or tablet.

Does my smartphone support USB OTG?
Ankit Banerjee / Android Authority

Most current Android smartphones support USB OTG. If you aren’t sure, download the USB OTG Checker app and run it. The simple and easy-to-use application will instantly tell you whether your device is compatible with this feature.

A few peripherals, like flash drives, come with a USB-C end and can be plugged into a phone or tablet directly. However, more often than not, you will need a USB OTG cable or adapter. There are plenty of options to consider, but we recommend the AmazonBasics USB OTG cable or the Anker USB-C adapter.

What can USB OTG be used for?
Ankit Banerjee / Android Authority

External storage
USB OTG lets you quickly and easily transfer files, photos, and other information from a smartphone or tablet to a flash drive. Nowadays, there are plenty of USB-C flash drives that can plug into a phone’s charging port directly, like these great options from Sandisk and Silicon Power. If you have a regular flash drive already, however, a USB OTG adapter is all you need.

See also: The best USB flash drives you can get

Of course, flash drives aren’t your only option for expandable storage. Even if your phone doesn’t come with a microSD card slot, you can plug an SD card reader into the phone. This is also a great way to move files from a digital camera to a phone for editing on the go. Anker has both a standard SD card reader and a USB-C variant that can be plugged directly into the phone. Don’t forget to check out our roundup of the best microSD cards you can get as well!

Ankit Banerjee / Android Authority

If you’re looking to capture high-quality audio recordings on your phone, a good USB mic will do the trick. With the right adapter, options like the Blue Yeti X and the ultra-portable Samson Go are great mics to pick. However, something to keep in mind is that the mic may not work on a system level, and you might need to download an audio recording app from the Google Play Store.

Adam Sinicki / Android Authority

Apart from Bluetooth keyboards and mice, you can use wired options or devices that require a wireless receiver with your smartphone or tablet because of USB OTG. You’ll find our recommendations in our comprehensive roundup of the best keyboards you can get.