Just what CAN you use a USB port on your phone for?

Just what CAN you use a USB port on your phone for?

OTGcableOk, most of us use the USB charging port on our phones for just that, charging them.  Most people don’t realize that you can do more with that port, and I mean a LOT more…

Personally, I have a Samsung Galaxy S5.  I don’t always have the latest and greatest, and I “upgraded” with the “new every two” program from Verizon to an S5 when the S6 was out for a while.  Prior to my S5, I had a Galaxy S4 for the past couple of years.  And not once during all that time did I realize there was any other use for the USB charging port other than charging or connecting your phone to your PC to transfer photos or music (while using the computer as a controller, and the phone as removable media).

Well, that all changed when I stumbled across what they call an OTG Cable.  Just what is an OTG Cable you ask?  Well, this is the one I purchased.  It has the Mini USB 3.0 plug that my phone has, but they are also available with the more common mini USB plug instead.


It also comes with a male USB plug and a female USB receptacle.   The male USB plug is to plug into a charger or some other power supply.  The female receptacle is where the magic happens.  For starters, you can plug in a keyboard. And you still have the touchscreen keyboard.  Plus you can plug in a mouse, and use it like you would on a computer.  But the really sweet part of this is you can also plug in external storage!  Flash drives are easy to plug and go, but if you need more space, you can plug in an external hard drive as well!  I’ve tested it with a few so far, a 200G, a 500G and a 1TB drive.  And IT WORKS!

The setup is crucial.  Your drive needs to be formatted as exFat and NOT NTFS.  Android phones will not recognize an NTFS drive without a third party plugin you would need to purchase.  But if you have a new or blank drive, and format it as exFat, your phone should recognize it.

I had an old Kensington 7 port pocket hub, and successfully managed to connect a USB mouse, USB keyboard and the Toshiba 1 TB Sata drive in an externally powered drive case, and used and accessed all three at the same time.  This essentially makes your phone a mini PC!  You don’t need to bring the hub, mouse and keyboard with you if you don’t have the space, but I plan to use this as a means to transfer videos from my GoPro to an external hard drive, without having to use a laptop or other external device.

The easiest way to do this is to take the microSD card from the GoPro, and put it in my phone’s microSD slot.  Then when I connect the OTG cable and hard drive, I can copy them right from the card to the hard drive using the phone!  Download a simple file manager program from the Google Play store, and its a piece of cake to transfer files without a PC.

I’ll be playing more with it, seeing what else my phone will recognize thru the USB port.  But for now, it’s opened a whole new side of my phone and its capabilities to me!  Plus I can leave the laptop at home and it’s one less piece of technology I can lose or have stolen if I don’t have it with me when I travel.  Sure, it may take a little getting used to but there’s not much I need a computer for other than actually editing the videos I shoot.  But for email, Facebook and my website, the phone is plenty..

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