These days people are using their smartphones and tablets to download and store data just as much as they do on their regular computers. Having USB drives that are mobile-friendly is essential to protecting your data. Smartphones and tablets can break, or get lost or stolen. Making a habit of backing up your mobile data on flash drives is a great way to protect yourself in case the worst happens.
Here’s where the tricky part comes in: most USB drives won’t work on your smartphone or tablet! While standard USB drives work great for desktop and laptop computers, they aren’t meant to work with mobile. If you’re wondering why that is, and what the solution to your mobile data storage problem can be, read on as we break down the connection between USB drives and smartphones & tablets.
Why Won’t Most USBs Work On Mobile Devices?
There are two answers to this question. The first is the most obvious one: standard USBs won’t physically fit in your mobile devices! Smartphone and tablet design puts a major emphasis on slim, compact bodies. The standard USB port is too wide to fit on most modern mobile devices. That’s why they are either fitted with Micro USB connections (for Android devices) or Lightning connections (for Apple products).
The other issue is USB Host Mode. Most USB drives are setup to classify devices as being either Hosts or Peripheral devices. The host device is the one that’s in charge. It’s the server, and the peripheral devices are the clients communicating with the server. The host controls and the peripheral responds to its commands. Usually, a device can only act in one of these two roles. Desktop computers are always in host mode.
This rather inflexible model usually isn’t a problem when it comes to working with desktops. You want your computer to be in control! Phones are different, though. Sometimes you may want it to be a peripheral, especially if you have lots of pictures or other files you want to transfer off your phone into your PC. There will be moments, too, where having your phone act as a host device comes in handy when you want to attach add-ons like mice, audio accessories, or physical keyboards.
Standard USB drives aren’t set in an either/or mode when it comes to dealing with hosts and peripherals. They don’t have the ability to alternate between these functions which would be necessary to have when dealing with mobile devices. That’s where USB On-The-Go comes in.
USB On-The-Go (USB OTG) is an extension of the USB standard. It maintains the original host/peripheral mode that USBs come in, but adds an extra wrinkle to it that makes it mobile-friendly. OTG adds into the mix dual-role devices, an additional class of devices that can function as either hosts or peripheral devices!
The way it works is that USB OTG adds an extra pin to the micro-USB connectors. If you’re wondering what that means, take a quick look at a USB or Micro USB cable. See those tiny, circular metal rods inside the USB connector? Those are pins. There are data pins and power pins inside each USB and Micro USB cable: it’s through the pins that a connection is established between devices.
The USB OTG’s extra pin is an “ID pin”, which lets the device you plug it into know that it’s dealing with an OTG device. If you plug in a normal A-to-B USB cable in an OTG compatible socket, the device acts in peripheral mode. But if you plug in a USB-OTG cable with the ID pin connector at one end, it puts the device connected to that end in host mode. This makes it possible to connect all sorts of accessories and devices to your phone or tablet.
Here’s a video showing a few things you can do with a USB OTG connector:
If you have a dual use 2-in-1 flash drive, it eliminates the need for an OTG cable entirely! It has the built-in technology and dual connectors needed to interface with your mobile devices. The trick is to make sure that you have the right connectors for your device and to see if your phone is USB OTG compatible. An easy way to tell is that the phone’s packaging should have this logo on it:
One thing to keep in mind: while USB OTG is readily available on Android and most other types of smartphones and tablets, it isn’t a part of Apple products. Not to worry, though: they have their own version that makes it possible to use 2-in-1 flash drives on iPhones and iPads!
What USB Drives Work Best With My Smartphone Or Tablet?
At Premium USB, we carry a wide-range of custom USB drives. Most of them, however, are not USB OTG drives. We do carry 2-in-1 flash drives, though, and both models are among the most technologically advanced and powerful drives that we carry!
If you own an Android phone or tablet, our Dual Pro 2-in-1 flash drive should be your go-to mobile storage solution. The Dual Pro comes with USB and Micro USB connectors. It can move data to and from any Android device into a USB compatible device. That’s something you can’t normally do with a standard flash drive, even if they had USB OTG technology: equipped with only USB connectors, they can’t interface with Androids that only utilize Micro USB ports. There are many differences between USB and Micro USB, and their basic incompatibility with each other is one of the biggest ones (i.e. No matter how hard you try, a USB plug is NOT going to fit into a Micro USB port).
The Dual Pro is more than just a flash drive: think of it as a “detachable hard drive” for your Android devices! The Dual Pro can store anywhere from 128MB up to 32GB of data, which gives it plenty of room to store your smartphone or tablet’s excess data.
The iFlash is another one of our 2-in-1 flash drives. Whereas the Dual Pro is geared towards Android users, the iFlash was designed to be the USB drive of choice for Apple owners. This versatile and compact drive comes with USB AND Lightning connectors. Keep in mind that standard flash drives won’t work on Apple products. Most flash drives only come with USB connectors, and Apple makes all their mobile products with Lightning connectors. While they may seem similar, there are some significant differences between USB and Lightning.
The iFlash’s 2-in-1 design gives it the ability to move data to and from your Apple device into any USB equipped device. Considering how many photos and other multimedia files most Apple users end up saving on their devices, having this mobile pocket-sized flash drive on hand to backup files can be a lifesaver (not to mention how much space it can save on your tablet or phone!). With 16GB of mobile storage, the iFlash is a great external hard drive for your Apple devices.
There are a few questions you need to ask yourself when you’re looking for a USB drive for your mobile devices:
- Do you use Android or Apple products?
- For non-Apple users: Is your mobile device USB OTG compatible?
- Are you using flash drives that are meant to be dual use?
If you have more questions about using USB drives with your mobile devices, we’d love to give you some answers. Go ahead and pick our brains by shooting a message at Premium USB.
You may have noticed that there’s a new USB type that’s been growing in popularity and availability lately. Over the last two years, USB Type-C has been spreading across the electronics industry. It’s become prominent enough that it’s become the connection type of choice for newer Android smartphones like the Google Pixel and the LG V20. It’s on track to become the industry standard for USB connections in the future.
If you’re not an expert on USB devices, it can be hard to understand why this is a big deal. You might think, “USB Type-A, USB Type-C: isn’t it just more of the same?” Not quite. While USB-C has a few things in common with its predecessors, it also features several innovations and technological enhancements that make it an exciting advancement in USB technology. Read on as Premium USB spells out the reasons why USB C is going to be the leader of the pack.
USB-C is a new type of connector shape. It’s about a third the size of the old USB Type-A plug, which has been the industry connector standard for years, and is the plug you probably think of when you hear “USB”. USB-C was designed to be a more compact version, made to support new USB advancements like USB 3.1 and USB power delivery (USB PD). It also features a reversible cable that makes it much easier to use than older USB models. While the USB-C is designed to support and be compatible with USB 3.1, it doesn’t automatically come with it. It can come with the same underlying technology as USB-A.
USB-C was developed to eventually replace the much-larger USB-A. This is partly due to the rise of mobile devices, which are increasingly more compact. The larger ports required by USB A eventually won’t be supported by most mobile devices. This is why Micro and Mini USB ports have become more common over the years. USB-C is the next step forward- a way of creating a standardized small USB connector/port that can be applied to a wide range of devices.
USB Type A has a blockier design than the flatter Type-C. USB-C is so small that some experts believe it’s being groomed to replace the 3.5mm headphone jack! Companies like Apple have been trying to phase out the headphone jack, because (much like the larger USB A ports) the jack’s larger size makes it difficult to create thinner smartphone designs.
Another innovation behind USB-C’s design is that you don’t have to worry about orienting your cable “the right way” anymore. With your standard USB cables, both ends were different. With USB-C, both ends of the cable feature the same kind of connector. Each end of the cable can easily connect to either your mobile devices or laptop or any other peripherals; no longer will you have to worry about distinguishing between hosts and clients when setting up your cables. USB-C is all one connector!
This reversible function of the USB also has the added benefit of cutting down on the need for adapters. No longer will you have to carry around a handful of adapters to successfully plug in to and charge your various devices.
A distinct advantage that USB-C has over older USB models is that it was designed to utilize recent advancements in USB transfer speed. In our real-world USB 2.0 vs 3.0 speed tests, USB 3.0 performed up to 184% faster than USB 2.0! If you’re impressed by the fast-acting 3.0, consider this mind-blowing fact: USB 3.1 is TWICE as fast as 3.0, clocking in at 10 Gbps! However, it’s important to keep in mind that just because USB-C supports USB 3.1 doesn’t mean that its underlying technology is 3.1 based. Many USB-Cs are still being made with 2.0 technology standards.
The YouTube video below provides more tests comparing the transfer speeds between USB 3.1, 3.0 and 2.0:
USB-C is also made to take advantage of USB Power Delivery. USB PD increases power levels from existing USB standards (10W charge) up to 100W! Additionally, the power direction is no longer fixed, enabling either host or peripheral device to provide power when needed. It optimizes your power management across multiple devices by allowing each device to take only the power it requires, prolonging the life of your battery. It streamlines the power process, allowing you to give more power to more peripheral devices at the same time.
Being able to take advantage of USB PD makes USB-C a serious powerhouse. It gives it the ability to offer higher bandwidths, making USB-C ideal for video and high volume data transfers. With its higher charge, USB-C can provide enough power to keep multiple machines running. Instead of needing a rat’s nest worth of tangled cords, one USB-C could handle most (if not all) of your charging needs.
USB 3.0 is backward compatible with older USB types, but USB-C is not. You can’t plug older USB devices into a modern USB-C port, nor can you connect the small USB-C into a larger USB port. There are, however, adapters that help you cross that compatibility bridge.
This subject can get confusing because USB 3.1 technology IS backward compatible with older versions of USB connectors. So while the hardware connectors aren’t compatible with older ports, the modern technology that’s often housed inside it is. On the bright side: most computers will still have both USB A and C ports in the immediate future. It will take some time before the larger ports get phased out entirely, so backward compatibility shouldn’t be an issue.
One area in which the “classic” USB Type-A has a clear advantage is in sheer ubiquity. While USB-C ports and connectors are being rolled out onto the market and getting adopted by several leading smartphone producers, they still aren’t as commonplace as USB A. It’ll probably take a few more years before the USB-C has officially and completely supplanted A as the connector/port of choice for our electronics. Until then most computer manufacturers will take an integrated approach, offering both Type A and C ports to keep things convenient for their customers.
While the USB Type A is still the industry standard, it can’t compete with the enhanced, superior qualities of the USB-C. Among those superior qualities are:
- Reduced size
- Faster charging capability
- Power management with USB Power Delivery
- Specifically designed to best utilize the capabilities of USB 3.1 technology
If you’ve got any questions about USB-C, feel free to send us a message. We’d love to tell you more about this groundbreaking development in our industry.
At Premium USB, one of the most frequently asked questions we get is what is the difference between USB, Micro USB, and Lightning. It can be easy to be confused by all these different ports. On the surface, they look similar and behave in almost identical ways. But it would be a big mistake to think that they’re interchangeable!
Each of these three types of connectors require different accessories, ports, and technology in order to function. They aren’t compatible with each other: A cable meant to only work for a Micro USB won’t work for a USB, and vice versa. Knowing the differences between each of these formats will help you identify what products you’ll need for your devices to operate at peak efficiency. Read on as we break down each of these three formats and tell you what to look out for.
USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. It’s the most common and popular connector on the market, a cross-platform technology that is supported by most of the major operating systems. They’re made to function as “plug and play” devices, which means that you can connect a USB device to your computer or mobile device and it should be able to detect it and even install the drivers needed to use it. USBs are also a “hot-swappable” technology, which means they can be added to or removed from a computer without having to restart the system.
Most USBs are “Type A” connectors (that are usually available in either 2.0 or 3.0 formats). These are what most people think of when they think of USBs, featuring a flat connector that plugs directly into most standard USB ports. There are also Type B connectors that are more square-shaped; These are often used for scanners and hard drivers. There are also “mini” Type Bs that are designed for use with cameras, MP3 players, and other smaller devices. It’s important to keep in mind that these “mini” USBs are NOT the same thing as Micro USBs. They are not always compatible with the same forms of technology that Micro USB uses, so don’t mistake their similar sounding names and appearances as an indicator that they serve the exact same function.
Micro USBs are another miniaturized version of USB interfaces. The Micro USB was developed to standardize and streamline phone charging devices. Consumers got fed up with having to get a different unique charger for their phones and not being able to mix and match when needed, so the Micro USB was created to simplify things. Many mobile devices (like GPS units) and smartphones (esp. Ones using Android technology) are fitted with Micro USB ports. And while the Micro USB looks slightly smaller than the Mini USB, it offers a comparable high speed transfer rate.
Micro USBs are fairly easy to identify. They come with black-colored receptacles and feature a compact 5 pin design. And while many Micro USB charging cables come with a USB connector to allow transfers between desktop and mobile devices, it’s important to keep in mind that they aren’t compatible with all devices. It also makes a difference whether you’re using a Micro USB 2.0 or 3.0; Not all 3.0 models are backwards compatible with older ports & connectors.
Anyone who’s owned Apple products over the last few years will be familiar with this connector. Released in 2012, it replaced the 30-pin dock connector that Apple used to use for all their products. The 8-pin Lightning connector was designed to be more durable and efficient (though the claims that it was faster than USB 2.0 didn’t hold up). It’s ultra-slim design also made it able to power up slender mobile Apple devices, which are too thin to support the width of a standard USB port. But like its predecessor, the Lightning wasn’t designed to be compatible with other types of connectors. A Lightning port in your iPhone, tablet, or desktop can’t be accessed with a conventional USB (unless you get an adapter). Most Apple devices usually come with a USB-to-Lightning cable, though, so interfacing with non-Lightning devices usually isn’t too difficult.
Lightning cables are usually easy to distinguish compared to other USB cables because of their color. Lightning cables are usually white, the same bright eggshell white shade that’s standard on Apple products. The connector itself is also much more slender and compact than other types of connectors.
Dual Purpose Drives
So what’s a mobile device owner to do if they use multiple devices with different ports? You could get an array of adapters, but carrying around so many add-ons can be inconvenient. Your best bet is to use a dual purpose 2-in-1 flash drive, like our Dual Pro or iFlash. These are USB flash drives that feature both USB & Micro USB connectors (for the Dual Pro), or USB & Lightning connectors (for the iFlash). These dual purpose drives let you access one type of device and transfer that data through a different port entirely! They also make for great mini-hard drives, backing up mobile device data files to keep your vital information safe in case your device gets broken or lost.
In A Nutshell
Charging cables are not universal. Depending on the devices you use, you may need to use a specific connector to keep your devices powered and synced up. Knowing what kind of connector you need will ensure that you always have the right charger on hand, and that you don’t end up wasting money buying chargers or add-ons that CAN’T interface with your devices. And if you’re looking for an easy and effective solution for sharing data between different types of devices, you won’t find a more cost-effective and simple solution than using one of Premium’s dual purpose flash drives.
Got more questions about the differences between USB, Micro USB, and Lightning? Get in touch with us: We’d be happy to share our knowledge!
One of the most frequently asked questions we get at Premium USB is why do the prices of USBs change so often? Anyone who’s bought their share of flash drives over the year will have noticed that their prices seem to fluctuate often. It can be frustrating, but rest assured that there is a very good reason for that. And also know this: It’s not our fault!
At Premium USB we do everything we can to keep our flash drives reasonably priced and accessible for any interested organizations to benefit from them. We’re able to price them competitively and fairly by assembling our flash drives in-house in the U.S. Unfortunately we’re not able to do EVERYTHING in-house. All flash drives require a valuable component that can only be acquired overseas, and it’s that one part that’s the key to solving the “why do USB prices change so much?” puzzle.
The most critical component inside USBs are their memory chips. Flash memory uses NAND chips, which are non-volatile. That means they don’t need to be backed up with a battery or capacitor to maintain their contents. Other types of memory like DRAM need power to preserve their storage capacities, which makes them less reliable compared to the loss-less NAND chips. These special chips are made in fabrication plants called “fabs”. Only a handful of fabs exist, producing the world’s supply of NAND chips in factories based in China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.
NAND chips don’t just power USB flash drives: They are a critical part of most modern electronics. Flash memory is used in desktop computers, mobile phones, MP3 players, laptops, medical devices, and many other essential pieces of technology. Demand for these chips is high, and only a few fabs are outfitted to produce them.
Crack open any economic textbook and you can see where we’re going with all this. What do you call an item that is highly in demand but subject to fluctuations in supply and changes in the marketplace? A commodity. NAND chips ARE commodities, just like gold, and are traded in a similar fashion. And as anyone who has dealt with commodities like oil, gold, tobacco, or copper can tell you, the value of a commodity is always shifting. This is the main reason why USB prices can vary so wildly over time: The source of their storage power is a hot commodity!
Think about how ubiquitous cell phones are in our culture. Each and every phone out uses flash memory. Every time Samsung, Sony, HTC, LG, or any other cell phone manufacturer produces a new line of phones, they have to order large runs of these commodities to get them ready for the marketplace. So while there may be “slow” months where the fabs aren’t beseiged with large memory orders, there are going to be “hot” times of the year when production will be backed up with demand for more chips.
This shifting demand makes a big difference on the value of NAND as a commodity. When the fabs are working in overdrive to meet demand (esp. during busy holiday seasons), the commodities’ value will skyrocket to reflect how hard it is to place orders for new chips. On slower months as the orders trickle in, prices will drop to reflect how much more available they are now.
When it comes to commodity value, supply goes hand in hand with demand. While large orders and busy seasons can drive up the price of flash memory, other unforeseen situations can arise to cause production problems. One of the biggest potential problems is the environment.
A case in point is Japan. In 2011 Japan was rocked by earthquakes and tsunamis. This massive environmental damage caused them to shut down production on many of their factories, including their NAND fabs. It wasn’t just a case of dealing with the health risks and physical hazards that came with the quake and tsunami: Some of the factories were heavily damaged! And because most other fabs are usually working at capacity to fill orders, when the Japanese fabs briefly went down other fabs weren’t ready or able to pick up the slack in the supply chain, causing NAND chips to becoming scarcer than they normally are.
Environmental damages can put a fab out of commission for a few days, sometimes even a week. On paper that may not seem like a lot of time, but for the marketplace those days of inactivity translate into considerable changes in the value of NANDs. And it’s not just Mother Nature that fabs need to be worried about- Malfunctioning equipment, power outages, factory accidents, strikes, and political unrest can also cause major delays in chip production.
Another factor in the changing values of flash memory is the fact that they are an overseas commodity. Because they have to be shipped to us, it adds another element of risk or potential for delay that can affect their value. Storms can prevent the shipments from being made and lead to grounded flights and container ships languishing in harbors. Shipments can get lost or even stolen en route, which can be particularly catastrophic if it happens to a large volume order for a company like Apple. They can also be affected by seasonal demand, especially during the holidays when orders for high-priced electronics skyrocket and the shipping industry is pushed to its limits to meet demand in time.
Happy New Year
Do you know when flash memory tends to be most expensive? February. It’s the month of the Chinese New Year, and during that time production in Chinese fabs shut down for 2 TO 3 WEEKS. Because of this holiday delay in production, demand for NAND chips sees a sharp increase. And as we’ve seen with other commodities: When demand increases, the price of the commodity is sure to follow suit.
In A Nutshell
The next time you notice a price change when you buy flash drives, remember that the memory chips inside them are like gold. Their value appreciates and depreciates depending on supply and demand. If you’re an organization looking to purchase a large supply of drives at the right time, keep these pointers in mind:
- Get them before the holidays.
- Place your orders before February, when production halts due to the Chinese New Year.
- Pay attention to big companies like Apple and Sony. If they’re about to release a new electronics product, demand for chips is about to spike. Get your USB orders in before the big boys get theirs in.
Got more questions about how memory chips work as a commodity? Get in touch with Premium USB for the answers you need.
The key to effective marketing is getting the right materials in front of the right people. And for a long time, the “right materials” meant the usual suspects: Business cards, direct mail, emails… While these are all valid and useful marketing tools in their own right, they’re also the tools that all your competitors are using. If you want to stand out, market yourself with something that’s a little out of left field: Spread the word about your business with custom USBs!
Custom USB drives have gained a lot of popularity among marketers over the last few
years. They aren’t as commonplace as business cards yet, which makes them stand out as a refreshing novelty when you hand them out to clients and customers. But the “shock of the new” isn’t the only reason why custom USBs are great for marketing: Here are five reasons why you should trust custom flash drives to take your business to the next level.
#1. They are cost-effective
One of the biggest misconceptions that surrounds custom USBs is that they are expensive to produce. Nothing could be further from the truth! You can purchase large quantities of customized flash drives at tremendous values. And the more drives you get, the more you save: At Premium USB, the price per individual drive decreases depending on the quantity of your order!
As an example: Let’s look at the Revolution, one of our most popular models. Buying 25 of them in bulk (with 128MB of data storage) will cost around $5.30 per unit; Buying 50 of the same model would cost $3.52 a drive! That’s less than .03 per MB! And the higher the order, the lower the costs per unit!
Consider as well just how MUCH you can store on a flash drive. A 1GB flash drive could store an average of 170 MP3 songs (at an average of 6MB per song), and 850 pictures (average of 1.2MB per picture)! And since documents tend to be smaller than other media files, that means you can pack a HUGE amount of Word docs and PDFs and Excel spreadsheets into a single flash drive!
So what does that mean for you, from a marketing perspective? Savings. Think of how expensive it can be to print out catalogs, introductory packets, and other documents. A 1,000 page document printed multiple times can rack up a large cost quickly. Take that same 1,000 pages and save them on a flash drive and you’ve just saved yourself a LOT of time and money.
#2. They are built to last
Flash drives are designed to be durable. Most USB models are made to be scratch resistant and shock resistant, able to withstand daily wear and tear at home or in your pocket. This stands in stark contrast to most other kinds of marketing materials, which tend to be made out of print. Business cards and fliers can get torn, crumpled up, water damaged, or fall apart with very little help. Flash drives , on the other hand, were made to hold up to the abuse that can come with frequent use. Check out this video we made where we test our flash drives and push them to their limits! See for yourself just how tough and reliable our USBs are.
#3. They are useful
An added benefit of using USBs as marketing tools is that they are useful data storage tools. When you give someone a card or send them an email, there’s often no value-add attached to it. It spreads awareness about your business, but it doesn’t give the consumer anything beyond that.
With a customized USB, not only are they finding out about your brand but they are also gaining an invaluable tool that can help make their lives easier. The fact that YOU gave them that tool could create feelings of reciprocity and goodwill that could pay off huge for your business. GIve people something of real value and they will be more likely to want to return the favor.
#4. They stick around
It’s easy to lose track of business cards or fliers. Emails are even worse: Even the most well-crafted and appealing of promo emails could end up buried beneath a mountain of new messages in an inbox. As the old saying goes: “Out of sight, out of mind.” What good is it in investing print marketing materials if they’re just going to get lost in the shuffle?
This is where custom USBs really start to shine! Because of their unique designs and easy portability, it’s the kind of marketing that people would be willing to carry around with them. There’s a better chance a potential client will be carrying your customized USB in their pocket than your business card. Because USBs are such useful devices, they’ll be a regular part of your customer’s lives in a way that no other type of marketing tool could hope to achieve. And every time they pull out their flash drive to move data or transfer their music, they’ll see your logo printed on that drive: A constant reminder that your brand exists. That’s why custom USBs are so invaluable: They give your brand a PRESENCE in other people’s lives. This type of repeated exposure to your brand is more likely to lead to future sales and interactions with your customers than a one time print or radio ad.
Another thing that custom USB drives got working in their favor is their perceived value. People are less likely to throw away a flash drive because they’ll think it’s more expensive and valuable than a business card.
#5. They can convey more information
There’s only so much information you can pack into a flier or card. Custom USBs have a major advantage over other marketing materials in that they can be preloaded with data! You can fill your custom USBs with data when you order them. That means you can preload them with PDFs, images, sound files, URLs, and any other additional information you want to pass on to your clients. At Premium USB, we offer up to 100MB of FREE data preloading, but you don’t have to stop there! Preload as much data as you want in your custom USB drives. Use this as an opportunity to tell people the story of your brand!.
An added benefit of preloading promotional USBs is that it gives your customers a feeling of agency. You’re not trying to push all this information on them: It’s there for them to read if they feel like it. That kind of soft sell can make a big difference: It shows respect for your customers, as well as a quiet faith in your business. You don’t need to tell them how great a company you are: They can find out for themselves by exploring all that preloaded data in their USB.
Would you like to find out more about how custom USBs can give your marketing a winning edge? Get in touch with us at Premium USB. We’d love to tell you more about what these little technological marvels can do for you!