OTG cables are fantastic little accessories to have at all times. They’re not widely available, and not widely known too, for that matter. This little OTG cable converts your whatever device with USB-A headers to USB-C or micro-USB. they’re available in quite a lot of different shapes, lengths, and designs, actually.
Of course, when I say that these OTG cables are useful, I mean it’s best to keep one around at times. They aren’t any big or get in the way, and definitely is cheap enough to buy multiple of them so you have spare when you need it.
Also, we made a video to show you how great OTG cables are!
There are two types of OTG cables that you can get – either USB-C to USB-A converter, or a micro USB to USB-A converter. Just make sure you get the appropriate connector for your phone. Or maybe for your modern laptop that only has a few USB-C ports. Those “dongles” are actually just OTG cables.
Without further ado, here are few of the many uses of OTG cables.
1. USB storage
Alright, so let’s start off with a great one. Once you plugged in a USB flash drive or hard disk, it’ll get detected and start working right away – that is, if your storage device is using the exFAT format. Else you can format your USB storage device on Android itself before using.
A fantastic example here would be the Transcend StoreJet 25MC that we reviewed here. It might look just like any other external hard disks in the market, but with the convenience of USB-C, it can be connected to all latest Android smartphones right away.
There’s just no need for another cable between the phone and storage device!
It’s a little surreal as Android itself is made from the ground with to support mouse input flawlessly. Once a mouse is plugged in or connected wirelessly, a cursor appears! It’s actually quite easy to use too – left click will function as a finger tap whereas a right click will become the “back” button.
Overall, it’s pretty usable but I’m not sure why anyone would use a mouse.
As keyboards these days are powered by USB, it’s no surprise that Android is actually very compatible with USB-based keyboards. Once connected, your virtual keyboard will disappear by default. You can then start typing instantly!
Of course, certain keys’ functionality and keyboard shortcuts have changed. However, the most basic typing experience still remains the same.
You can even use Bluetooth keyboard, by the way.
But you might ask – what about a keyboard/mouse combo? Can that work?
You can, in fact, plug in a keyboard/mouse combo (I tried a wireless combo set) and Android actually detects both and works right away. That means you can start clicking away using the mouse and type using the keyboard – just like a desktop. Useful for tablets, actually.
4. Charge another phone
I have to admit – it sounds like a stupid idea at first, but it actually works. ASUS started promoting this idea when they announced the first ever ASUS ZenFone Max and there is an obvious drawback.
Outputting charge from your host (the charger) to the client (the one being charged) is rather slow. On the ZenFone Max, the maximum power output is at 5V and 0.5A – which does allow your phone to at least not deplete any charge.
Still, you can save a friend with this feature.
5. Control a DSLR
This is a fun feature that I really like. DSLRs do come with a USB port and a cable, but they’re never really utilized at all. This is where custom apps and OTG cable comes into play.
Once you have a compatible app with the compatible camera, hook it up to your phone and you can actually start controlling the camera on your smartphone! Sure, it’s not perfect – but it’s close to being a secondary display for your camera.
Also, you can even control some of the camera functions through your smartphone! Pretty smart 😉
Bonus : Output audio?
Now, we’ve all heard about USB DAC, right? You can connect a DAC to your Android smartphone and listen to music through that DAC itself. Of course, this is treading into the audiophile territory which will cost a pretty penny as it requires a lot of heavy investment.
Other random uses
You can actually use OTG for some random accessories that are powered by USB too. For example, you can power up the Xiaomi Portable Bendable LED Light and it works just fine. You can even power up a USB fan if you want to!
Want to power up a USB fan? Why not?
Obviously these are not the only uses of OTG cable. There are a lot more wacky ideas what I’m sure others have tried and tested.
Let us know down in the comments below – do you use OTG? What’s your favorite use of the OTG function?