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USB drives are so convenient, aren’t they? But you can’t use one with your phone. Well, unless you have an Android and know what USB OTG is.

USB On-The-Go (OTG) is a standardized specification for USB connections that allows a device to read data from a USB connection without requiring a PC. The device is basically becoming a “USB Host”, which isn’t an ability every gadget has.

What can you do with it? A lot of stuff, which we’ll detail later! For example, if you want to connect your USB drive to your phone, or maybe use your old Xbox 360 controller with your Android tablet How To Connect a Game Controller to Android For Console-like Gameplay How To Connect a Game Controller to Android For Console-like Gameplay Let's face it, touch controls are terrible for many games. Have you ever tried playing a platformer game on a touchscreen? It's an exercise in frustration. The good news is that you can connect a... Read More , USB OTG can make that happen.

USB OTG is not an Android-specific feature, but that is its most popular use, so it’s what we’ll focus on. Some printers already support it, Microsoft is expected to bring USB OTG in Windows Phone 10, but there’s no sign of Apple allowing this. Yet another reason to choose Android over the iPhone 5 Reasons To Choose Android Over iPhone [Opinion] 5 Reasons To Choose Android Over iPhone [Opinion] If you’re looking at buying a smartphone, you’re probably going to buy an Android device or an iPhone (sorry, Microsoft). What’s the difference, and which should you choose? We recently gave the pro-iPhone side of... Read More , eh?

Check If Your Android Supports USB OTG

usb-otg-android-logo

The easiest and most reliable way to check if your phone or tablet supports USB OTG is to check the box it came in or the manufacturer’s website. You’ll see a logo like the one above, or you will see it listed in the specifications.

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If you can’t find the information there, try checking for your device on GSMArena.com. In the specifications list, scroll down to where it says “USB” and check if the entry lists “USB Host” — those are the magic words you’re looking for.

Another method is to download USB OTG Checker from the Play Store; it’s a free app that you can run to get a quick answer on whether your Android supports the feature or not.

Not every Android device supports USB OTG, it’s something the manufacturer has to enable. This setting is in the phone or tablet’s kernel, the conduit middleman software that lets your hardware talk to your operating system and apps. If your answer is a negative when you use USB OTG Checker, then you might want to consider using a custom Android kernel Why You Should Consider Using A Custom Android Kernel Why You Should Consider Using A Custom Android Kernel Do you want the best performance out of your Android device? Or maybe you want the best battery life? Consider a custom kernel. Read More that supports USB OTG for your device.

What You Need to Use USB OTG

usb-otg-android-cable

Your Android device has a standard micro-USB port. However, most USB devices require a full-size USB port. How do you resolve that? With a micro-USB-to-USB dongle, of course.

You need to specifically look for a micro-USB Male to full-size USB Female adapter — those “Male” and “Female” designations are essential. Hopefully, this confusion will resolve itself with the advent of USB Type C What Is USB Type-C? What Is USB Type-C? Ah, the USB plug. It is as ubiquitous now as it is notorious for never being able to be plugged in right the first time. Read More , but for now, you can find lots of such adapters on Amazon, like the popular UGreen OTG Adapter.

Now, you can also get flash drives with both micro USB and USB ports USB Flash Drive Guide: 5 Things to Know When Buying One USB Flash Drive Guide: 5 Things to Know When Buying One USB flash drives might seem mundane and straightforward, but there are a few tips and quirks that you should know before you buy your next one. Read More , like the super useful Kingston Micro Duo. It doesn’t cost much more than a regular USB drive either, so it’s a pretty sound purchase.

What You Can Do with USB OTG

Once you’re ready with USB OTG for your Android, a world of opportunities opens up. There’s an entire Reddit thread dedicated to what you can do with USB OTG, but here are some of the most popular uses.

Connect Flash Drives and External Hard Drives

usb-otg-android-pen-drive

Obviously, external storage is at the top of this list. Just plug it in and you’ll be ready to go. USB drives are the easiest to connect, while external hard drives may or may not work. Portable hard drives that draw power from the Android won’t always work, but external drives with their own power source work just fine.

You’ll need these drives to be in FAT32 format, as NTFS doesn’t work perfectly every time. To quickly mount and unmount flash drives, download StickMount from the Play Store.

For any more queries, Christian has a full guide on how to get extra storage on Android from flash drives Get Extra Storage On Android With A USB Flash Drive Get Extra Storage On Android With A USB Flash Drive Want to add more storage to your Android device using a USB flash drive? We can show you how to do that, step by step. Read More .

Play With Video Game Controllers

usb-otg-android-xbox-360-controller-and-sonic-4-for-android

The Xbox 360 Controller works fantastically with Android devices with USB OTG. It’s literally as simple as plug-and-play to start gaming with a controller. Of course, you will need to be playing games that are made to be used with a controller, like the Asphalt 8: Airborne racing game or Modern Combat 5, which is an awesome paid game you can download for free 8 Awesome Paid Mobile Games You Can Download for Free 8 Awesome Paid Mobile Games You Can Download for Free All of the games here work on both Android and iOS, and are now free for life—not for a limited period. Read More .

If you have rooted your Android device Take Control: Android Rooting Guide Take Control: Android Rooting Guide As of the writing of this guide, approximately 80% of the world's population owns their own cellphone. Out of those, 1.08 billion are smartphones. Read More , you can also connect a PlayStation 3 controller. And we even have a guide on how to use your Wiimote as a controller for Android How To Use Your WiiMote As A Controller For Your Android Device How To Use Your WiiMote As A Controller For Your Android Device Use your WiiMote as a gamepad for your Android tablet or phone. Touch screens are great for some games, but for others you just need tactile response. So, if you prefer to do your gaming... Read More .

One of the cooler scenarios, as recommended by a Redditor, is to connect an old PS2 controller and turn your Android into a retro gaming hub Easily Turn Your Android Device into a Retro Gaming Hub Easily Turn Your Android Device into a Retro Gaming Hub With an Android device, you can easily play all sorts of retro games made for systems like the Nintendo 64 or GameBoy Advance! Read More !

For more details, check out Chris’s detailed article on how to connect a gaming controller to Android devices How To Connect a Game Controller to Android For Console-like Gameplay How To Connect a Game Controller to Android For Console-like Gameplay Let's face it, touch controls are terrible for many games. Have you ever tried playing a platformer game on a touchscreen? It's an exercise in frustration. The good news is that you can connect a... Read More .

Control Android with Keyboards and Mice

usb-otg-android-keyboard

Android’s open nature makes it easy to connect just about anything to it. If you want to use your tablet as a laptop Can You Use a Tablet as a Laptop? The Essential Apps and Gear Can You Use a Tablet as a Laptop? The Essential Apps and Gear Want to use your Android tablet as a laptop replacement? Here is your comprehensive guide to the necessary hardware and software. Read More , a keyboard and mouse is integral to the experience. You’ll be happy to know that Android works well with most wireless and wired keyboards and mice.

I would recommend getting a wireless keyboard and mouse set with a unified receiver, since you will only have one USB connection — I haven’t seen a functional USB hub working over USB OTG. But make sure you stick with the standard stuff.

For example, you should buy a standard plug-and-play wireless set that is compatible with all platforms. However, make sure you don’t buy something that requires accompanying software, like the Logitech T400, which requires SetPoint custom software.

As Erez notes in his detailed guide to connect a USB keyboard to Android devices How To Connect a USB Keyboard To Your Android Phone How To Connect a USB Keyboard To Your Android Phone While I’m a big fan of Swype, SlideIT, and other advanced keyboards for Android, there’s something to be said about a keyboard with keys on it. I mean the physical-type keyboards – you know, the... Read More , it defaults to QWERTY so you’ll need a special app called External Keyboard Helper Pro ($1.99) for other layouts.

Print Directly from a Printer

usb-otg-android-printer

Much like keyboards, printers with a standard plug-and-play USB work darn well with Android devices, so you can start printing without requiring a wireless connection and without transferring anything to a PC first.

Weirdly, the “Mass Storage” mode didn’t work for me, but your mileage may vary. If you want to print photos and documents, you will have to switch to PTP (Photo to Photo) mode in your USB connection.

Control Your DSLR Camera

Photographers will love this one. Your Android device can be wired up to your DSLR camera and turned into a giant livescreen, complete with the ability to capture, focus, control shutter speed, and much more. It’s one of the most creative uses of an Android tablet 6 Creative Uses for Your Android Tablet 6 Creative Uses for Your Android Tablet Have an Android tablet? You'll enjoy these creative uses for it! Read More .

You will need the DSLR Controller app, and ideally a Canon camera. It works with some Nikon and Sony cameras, but they aren’t officially supported. Plus, it’s a hefty $6.99 for the app, so before you buy it, read all about it on the official website.

Does Your Phone Have USB OTG?

Do you have a phone with USB OTG? Tell us your phone’s model, and what you do with the USB OTG capabilities!

  1. George Nezlek
    November 26, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    SO, support for the Logitech Unifying receiver does not depend solely on USB OTG functionality. Have a keybd mouse combo that works FLAWLESSLY on kit kat devices as well as Cyanogen Mod 12.1 but forget about it when attached to Android 5.1 devices that have NO PROBLEM when accessing a USB storage device, for instance.

  2. Shelia Starks
    November 8, 2016 at 1:05 am

    I'm trying to get the internet .from my phone so I can't up my new table

  3. Santosh
    October 20, 2016 at 11:27 am

    I have vivo v3

  4. Mohd Zain
    October 17, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Samsung Galaxy J7 6 (2016)

  5. Lana
    October 10, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Can you just use any mouse or does it have to be one that supports OTG?

  6. nelly
    October 4, 2016 at 10:54 am

    I use samsung galaxy v....did my phone had an otg?

  7. souvik
    October 3, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Samsung grand max sm-g7202

  8. piyush kaurav
    September 28, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    micromax q340 ,canvas selfie

  9. shamiul
    July 17, 2016 at 12:56 am

    My phone model Lava Iris 505

  10. charles
    June 19, 2016 at 2:03 am

    i use my mobile phone's otg feature and a scanner (the laser scanner of some grocery stores that have usb end) to scan barcodes when im encoding some of our products on google spreadsheet. very convenient when im on the go cause i cant carry the desktop computer on the selling area.

  11. Jo
    May 22, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    I bought one to plug a mouse into my android phone because my screen was cracked. I couldn't enter my password and get into my phone without that mouse. I'll be waiting 5 days until a new phone Is shipped out. What a little life saver the OTG adapter is!

  12. Sarnlack
    May 9, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Can usb otg use as audio output ? because headset nowadays using usb cable than 3.5mm cable

    • Mark
      July 26, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Just plugged in an old Plantronics Gamecom 777 headset and the audio came through just fine :)

  13. Ankur Aswal
    May 6, 2016 at 6:44 am

    I have a Xolo one black android phone can my phone support OTG if possible

  14. Raj
    April 12, 2016 at 8:19 am

    My phone is lenovo a2010 does it supporting otg connection

  15. amit
    March 20, 2016 at 11:24 am

    I have a micromax android phone can my phone support otg if possible model no- E311

  16. Squalle
    December 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    GSMArena says nothing about the Note 4 having it, but I use it all the time. I have a flash drive just for my phone. I backup some pics, I have some music on there. In this day, you really can never have too much storage. ; )

  17. Susan
    November 11, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    My Moto G has no micro sd card slot so I picked up one of the OTG gadgets for music and pictures. Great idea except for the fact that I have a thingy dangling from my phone when I use it.

    • Andy
      April 15, 2016 at 11:57 am

      Some of us live with the dangly bit permanently, it's not that much of an inconvenience.

  18. Mike Rogers
    November 11, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    With regards to using a flash drive, I bought one with a standard and a micro end from Tesco. Sandisc I think. Not that obscure surely

  19. Joe Meyer
    November 11, 2015 at 2:40 am

    I have a lenovo yoga tablet. I use it with an Android Endoscope Micro USB Inspection Video Camera. I lost a screw while replacing the alternator on my car, the screw didn't fall to the ground, and I couldn't see it. So I stuck the endoscope video camera down and I found it. Camera's like these used to cost hundreds to thousands of dollar's. My endoscope has a 3m long cable and cost $20. It's amazing.

    • Fik of borg
      November 13, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      That is almost the exact example I was going to comment.
      Alternator belt adjustment and a socket loosening from the wrench but not reaching the ground, and no-name chinese tablet and generic bullet webcam (should work with my phone, come to think about it)

  20. Steven Don
    November 11, 2015 at 12:04 am

    Used a mouse to recover as much as possible from a phone where the touchscreen was broken.

  21. Austin Hamilton
    November 10, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    Would this work with HTC one m9? If so what are its capabilities?

  22. Kristina Maria
    November 10, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    I don't have a USB to go, but since Samsung nixed the micro SD card slot so I bought a mini micro SD cards reader, which comes with a micro USB adapter. This allowed me to transfer my files, music, and pictures to my new phone and my computer. Perfect.

  23. Pravin S
    November 10, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    No, My phone doesn't have USB OTG option but my phone's motherboard has. SameSung wanted to make my S4 mini unique. And you know the rest. :(

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