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How to tell what type of USB connector you have by color

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is pretty much the standard interface for most computer devices nowadays. We use USB ports to connect printers, keyboards / mice and smartphones, just to name a few. But do you know how to tell the difference between a 1.x and 3.x port? Here's how to tell what kind of USB connection your computer or device has.

How to tell what type of USB connector you have by color

When it comes to USB ports, what defines the features are called specifications (1.1, 2.0, etc.). USB connectors, whether it is the receptacle on your computer or the plug on the end of a cable, are often colored coded so you can tell what specification it is. The following is a list of the different USB specifications by color.

USB specifications by color

White USB connector - USB 1.x

White Type A USB 1.x plug
White Type A USB 1.x plug

This was the first specification for USB and was released in 1996. It had some issues with extension cables / hubs and wasn't widely adapted. It wasn't until version 1.1 in 1998 that it started to be used in manufacturing devices. Normally white connectors are USB 1.x, but quite a few are USB 2.x compatible. The transfer rate for USB 1.X was kind of slow at only 12 Mbps (megabit per second).

Black USB connector - USB 2.x

Black Type A USB 2.x plug
Black Type A USB 2.x plug

This is the second specification for USB and was released in 2000. It was labeled 'Hi-Speed' because it had a maximum transfer rate of 480 Mbps (megabit per second). It is completely backward compatible with USB 1.x.

Blue USB connector - USB 3.x

Blue Type A USB 3.x plug
Blue Type A USB 3.x plug

This is the third specification for USB and was released in 2008. It defines a new SuperSpeed mode, with transfer speeds up to 5 Gbps (gigabit per second). It is completely backward compatible with USB 2.x.

Red or Yellow USB connector - Sleep and Charge

Red Type A USB Sleep and Charge plug
Red Type A USB Sleep and Charge plug

This is not a USB specification, but more of a feature. This color indicates that the connector does not power off during sleep or standby mode. On laptop or desktop computers they are great for charging external devices like smartphones. Its specification can be any of the above, so check your computer or device documentation for the exact one.

Comments (5) -

Hi
I'm really glad I found your website after so much searching to find all the information in one place! My question is this, with ragards to in-car chargers which connect via seperate USB cables.... Does the connector colour or class of cable make a difference in the charge rate?
I thank you in advance for your help in this matter.
Kind regards...Tariq.

Reply

Scott St. Gelais

Hi Tariq,

Neither the cable color or connector color has anything to do with the charge rate. The normal power output should be 5v, with 4.4v min. & 5.25v max.. I've had car chargers that could not charge my smartphone because of the low min. voltage.

Scott

Reply

Lately it seems the red is being used to indicate a Qualcomm2 port 5V,9V12V Quick Charge.  I noticed on Qualcomm's page pertaining to the Quickcharge 2 they seemed to be steering away from the subject of a requirement for a red port.  I will have to study this further.

Reply

Then what does a yellow connector mean? My previous understanding is that a yellow connector meant what you have stated that a red connector does.

Reply

Scott St. Gelais

Yellow, orange and red are basically the same. And USB 3.1 are currently teal.

Reply

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