What is USB OTG and what can it do on your Android phone

If you have an Android phone compatible with USB OTG see how many things you can do with it and with the help of a cheap adapter.

usb otg smartphone

What is USB OTG?

USB On-The-Go (OTG) is a standard, available on many Android phones, which allows them to act as hosts. That is, it allows your phone to read data from a device with a USB connection without the need for an intermediate computer. With an OTG cable, the telephone device itself becomes the host.

And if you find such a connection indifferent, we inform you that you can do many things with it, such as connecting a USB flash drive or a video game controller to your phone. Here are some ways to use it with an Android device.

Login requirements

usb otg android logo

To be able to connect your phone via a USG On-The-Go, it must first be supported by the phone itself. In other words, as a first step, you should check if your Android phone or Android tablet supports USB OTG.

The easiest way to see it is to look at the package you received or the manufacturer's website. You will see a logo like the one above or the word "USB OTG" on the specification.

Another easy method is to use an application USB-OTG Checker. It will tell you quickly if the device has USB OTG function and which functions will be activated for you.

usb otg checker

Usually Samsung and other smartphones have OTG enabled by default without any control or reference to the settings. However, some manufacturers may ask you to enable it manually through Settings> Advanced> OTG.

A Redme Note 9 Pro that we have in our hands is compatible with USB OTG by default, without the possibility of adjustment and in its menu it does not mention anything related.

Requirements for accessories

usb c to usb a adapter 1

If you're ok with the above, ie if your phone supports USB OTG, then all you may still need is a USB-C to USB-A adapter.

Your Android device has a standard micro-USB or USB-C port. It's the one you plug in to charge. When you want to connect your phone to a device (see examples below) you will quickly discover that this device may only have one full size USB port. You can resolve this compatibility issue with an inverter / adapter.

In particular, look for an OTG micro-USB or USB-C adapter in your local store (depending on your phone). You can find many such adapters in the domestic market or online. We would say that it is not worth dealing with abroad, since these adapters are of cheap value and start from 0,50 euros.

Read: Types of USB cables and which to use

When you're ready with USB OTG for your Android device, another world opens up for you. Here are some of its most popular uses:

Connect flash drives and external hard drives

usb flash stick

Not surprisingly, external storage is at the top of this list. Just plug in your drive and in a matter of seconds you will be able to transfer all kinds of files.

Flash drives are the easiest to connect due to volume. External hard drives may or may not work. Portable hard drives that draw power from the phone will not always work, but outdoor drives that have their own power source should work just fine. These drives will need to be formatted as FAT32 or exFAT files.

If you do not want to get into the hassle of media transfer, you can play music or videos directly from the OTG storage drive connected to your Android device. In short you will have an extra external storage space on your mobile.

Here if you want you can buy a Flash drive with built-in USB OTG, such as SanDisk Ultra Dual Drive Go for USB Type-C devices. You can also search in the Greek market, there are several. Its output is a Type-C plug and has a USB-A input on the back. At the same time it is a flash drive in various capacities.

Play with video game controls

USB, OTG, smartphone, Android

Android P and later versions natively support the Xbox One controller. But the older Xbox 360 controller also works with Android devices via USB OTG.

It's as simple as plug-and-play to start the game with one controller. Of course, you have to play games that are compatible with the controller.

If you have rooted your Android device, you can also connect PlayStation controls. For example, you can connect a PS2 controller and turn your Android device into a retro gaming hub.

Control Android with keyboard and mouse

usb otg setup

If you want to use your Android tablet as a laptop, the keyboard and mouse are essential accessories of your work. Android works just fine with most wireless and wired keyboards and mice.

We recommend that you get a wireless keyboard and mouse set with a unified receiver, as you only have one USB connection available. Although the photo above shows such a connection there is a possibility that a USB hub via USB OTG will not work.

You will need to purchase a standard wireless plug-and-play set compatible with all platforms. However, make sure that you do not buy something that requires bundled software, such as some Logitech devices that require SetPoint software.

On Android devices the operating system is QWERTY by default. You will need a dedicated keyboard application for other devices, such as Colemak Mod-DH or the DVORAK.

Print directly to a printer


Like keyboards, printers with standard USB plug-and-play work well on Android devices as well. They let you start printing without the need for a wireless connection or having to transfer anything to your computer first.

Android has underestimated support for USB Mass Storage mode, from Android 4.0 onwards. If you want to print photos and documents, you will need to use the PTP or MTP functions for your USB connection. However, we recommend that you use wireless printers for two reasons:

  • Most brands, including Canon, Epson, and HP printers, have Play Store applications that install drivers to allow you to print directly.
  • They allow on-the-go printing without the need for an ethernet cable or USB OTG cables.

Check the DSLR camera

Photographers will love this feature. You can connect your Android device to the DSLR camera and turn it into a giant live screen with shooting, focusing, shutter speed control and more.

There are many DSLR controller applications in the Play Store, but it is vital that you check the list of supported cameras before installing them. Some of the popular ones are Helicon Remote in the upcoming years, while Camera Connect and Control, compatible with many Canon and Nikon models.

Transfer photos directly from DSLR to Android phone

If you want to transfer photos from your digital camera to your Android, you can do so without using a laptop or SD card reader as an intermediary. You will need a USB cable that connects to your camera and OTG adapter.

Once connected, you can import all the photos from your camera to your Android phone. It's an easy-to-use feature if you are editing photos on your phone or want to share uncompressed images via email.

Play musical instruments

USB OTG lets you connect MIDI-compatible music instruments, such as keys, to your Android device. Combine them with a decent music app and you can create music directly on your mobile device.

While an Android phone can power small MIDI Keyboards, some may require an external power source. Also, check the connection type supported by your Keyboard and see if an additional adapter is required to operate the OTG adapter.

Record audio directly to your phone

USB, OTG, smartphone, Android

In addition to musical instruments, you can record audio from a USB microphone to your Android phone. USB microphones offer better recording capabilities than built-in or external microphones that are connected via a 3,5 mm audio jack.

Although your Android phone has a built-in voice recorder, it is quite simple and basic. With a dedicated microphone, applications like USB Audio Recorder Pro They offer more customization options, such as stereo playback, custom sampling rate, buffer size selection, and even recording format options.

Connect to the internet via Ethernet cable

USB, OTG, smartphone, Android

A lesser known OTG feature is its ability to connect an Ethernet cable (RJ-45) to an Android phone for Internet access. This can be useful if you want to reduce latency while playing online or have better internet speeds than your Wi-Fi.

To work, in addition to an OTG adapter, you will also need a USB Ethernet adapter, such as an adapter QGeeM USB-C over Ethernet.

Ethernet via OTG connection may not be available on all smartphones. Make sure your phone supports this feature before attempting.

Reverse charge your Android phone

Did you know that you can use an OTG adapter to charge your device from another phone's battery? To reverse the charge, connect the OTG cable to the phone as a power source. Then connect the phone you want to charge to the OTG port via a USB cable.

Although charging will be slow, it will help when your main device runs out of power and you do not have access to a power source.

New horizons with USB OTG

Learning about USB OTG and its many uses opens up a number of new tricks for Android devices. In fact, if you have an old Android tablet or phone, one of the above USB OTG applications can give it a breath of fresh air.

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USB, OTG, smartphone, Android

Written by Dimitris

Dimitris hates on Mondays .....

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