What Is USB 3.0?

What Is USB 3.0?


There’s a new USB in town. It’s bigger and faster, and most importantly, it has a different kind of connector. But, confusingly, the new connector has the same name as the old connector.

The new USB is called SuperSpeed USB 3.0. And the new connector, like the old one, is called a Micro-B. But, rejoice and be not confused. Here’s the explanation.

The reason it has the same name as the old connector is because it’s backwards-compatible with the old one. If you have a smartphone or a tablet that uses USB 3.0, take a look at its charge/sync port. It takes a cable that looks like this:

USB 3.0 Micro-B plug

If this cable looks like it has two connectors side-by-side, that’s because it does. And if one of those two connectors looks identical to the old USB 2.0 Micro-B, that’s because it is.

Because you are perceptive and perspicacious, you will have noticed immediately that any of those old USB 2.0 cables that you have lying around, cluttering up your catch-all drawers, will fit right into one side of that connector, happy as a clam, and it will continue to work like a regular USB 2.0 connection.


If you plug one of these SuperSpeed USB 3.0 cables into the same connector, you’ll awaken the full potential of your USB 3.0 device, and you’ll be able to transfer data at about ten times the speed of your USB 2.0 connection.

Of course, it goes without saying that, to get this kind of speed, you’ll need USB 3.0 at both ends of that cable — say, your smartphone at one end and your computer at the other. Since Type A USB 3.0 and 2.0 connectors on your computer look pretty much the same, how can you tell if your computer’s got 3.0? Look closely at the USB port; if it’s 3.0, it’ll be blue inside.

You’ll be seeing that blue USB port more and more often. And you’ll be seeing the 2-part Micro-B connectors on more and more devices, including smartphones, tablets, and external hard drives. So, make a point of having some spare SuperSpeed USB 3.0 cables lying around.