USB OTG or USB On-the-go isn’t exactly a new technology. In fact, it dates back to 2001 and precedes smartphones. In Mobile phones, Nokia used OTG in several Symbian devices even before iPhone arrived. So several years down the line, when the world is transitioning to USB Type C devices, is it still a relevant thing you should be looking for in your next smartphone? Let’s take a look.
What is USB OTG
Presence of USB OTG Simply means that your phone can act as a USB Host. Ability to act as a host, allows it to recognize other USB devices that you connect to your phone. Keeping all that jargon aside, presence of USB OTG support allows you to connect pen drive or flash drive and other peripherals to your smartphone.
The obvious advantage is that it allows you to bypass PC for trivial tasks. You can directly access media content stored in portable flash drive from your phone and can transfer data from your phone to removable storage using a file manager app.
Is it a hardware thing or a software thing?
Your phone should have both hardware support and software support to use USB OTG. Thus, it is not wise to wait for USB OTG via software updates. If your phone has hardware support but is missing software support and drivers, there is some possibility of getting OTG support with some community help.
How to check If my phone has USB OTG?
USB OTG support by itself can’t help you with anything. You will need to purchase USB OTG cable, OTG Flash drive or cable to benefit from it. So incase you are not sure if your device supports OTG, and you wish to know for sure before buying anything, here is how you should proceed.
The first thing you should do is google it. You can find OTG related information for all popular smartphones and this is the only sure shot way. We at GadgetsToUse test OTG support in all our reviews.
Many of these apps maintain a database for confirmed devices, which you can use too.
What is Partial OTG Support?
Partial OTG support is when you have the OTG hardware but software inhibits you from using OTG. In such cases you can root your smartphone and use apps like USB OTG Helper to activate USB OTG. You can run one of these apps and then check if you are able to access files using a good third party file explorer.
However, if your kernel doesn’t support USB OTG, this won’t help you. You can flash a different Kernel if you are an advanced user, but that is going towards extreme and might not be worth all the extra effort.
Can USB OTG replace SD Card?
Google is no longer the only Android manufacturer to show aversion to SD card. Even Samsung, the greatest advocate of removable storage chose not to include it in Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, citing performance reasons. Xiaomi gave similar explanation when it excluded SD card in Mi4i, which otherwise will be an easy recommendation for all. In all such cases, USB OTG emerges as an alternative, and even OEMs project it as such.
I have a heavy media consumption appetite and have heavily relied on USB OTG in the past. It was always convenient to carry must watch videos in a portable USB drive, but lately, i hardly use USB OTG even on 16 GB limited storage phones.
No, i am not always under the cozy shelter of fast internet which would license me to store all my files on cloud, but because with phones getting more powerful, and with small files and document stored on Google Drive, i don’t feel the need to transfer data to and fro that much. When i am at home, i can always stream content from my phones to Large TV screen using Teewe or Chromecast. Last time I used USB OTG was when I took some files from a friends system.
Of course, this might not be true for everyone, but as our smartphones become more powerful, as high speed internet becomes a common trait and as we learn to do more on our smartphones, most people won’t need USB OTG as much. SD card storage or more internal storage on the other hand are much more convenient.
Apart from storage, you can also use USB OTG to connect peripherals like Keyboard and Mouse, but again, most people won’t feel a compelling need to attach these to smartphones, and if you want to extend its usage as a PC, there are better and more convenient options available.
USB OTG is great option to have for those who frequently consume heavy multimedia content on their phones, but its absence isn’t an absolute deal breaker in modern scenario. Of course, it may be a must have attribute for many people, and if you are among those, share your experience with us in the comment section below.