Inconsistent USB connectors

There seem to be a lot of people who have trouble inserting a USB-cable in the right orientation on the first go. I often have a little trouble with that myself. The USB standard asks the manufacturers of cables to have a tactile USB logo on the upper side of the connector. In theory you can take any connector, feel the USB logo and know the way to plug it in. On the computer and phones, the upper side should be up.

Normal USB

In practise, this is hardly every implemented correctly. For instance in my ThinkPad, the socket looks like this:

../../_images/thinkpad.jpg

On a cheap Packard Bell laptop the USB sockets were built in the other way. So all the USB logos have to face the desk.

Taking the USB-cable that shipped with my Motorola Moto E, I can indeed plug that in correctly blindly:

../../_images/motorola-a.jpg

The “CE” thing is not a good idea there, still the USB logo is more tactile.

A cheap cable from Anker does not use the USB logo but still has this implemented on the correct side on the USB-A end:

../../_images/anker-a.jpg

My card reader from Conrad has this correctly as well:

../../_images/conrad-a.jpg

I do have some cables which have the USB-A implemented incorrectly.

Micro-USB

With Micro-USB, it is way worse. I could not really find out which direction actually is “up”, so I just assume that the Motorola cable and phone have it the right way. This is also the way I saw it most often on phones. So my phone has this:

../../_images/moto-e.jpg

Then the matching cable has it done right:

../../_images/motorola-micro.jpg

The cheap Anker cable has it screwed up badly:

../../_images/anker-micro.jpg

A cable from Belkin has it kinda-sortof:

../../_images/belkin-micro.jpg

Yes, the USB logo is on the correct side. The Belkin logo on the other side feels as prominent, so you do not know which side should be up.

Another cable which I think is from Anker looks like this:

../../_images/unknown-micro.jpg

And to make it even worse, the socket on my Nexus 10 tablet is exactly the other way as it is in my phone:

../../_images/nexus-10.jpg

Conclusion

So I do have devices and cables which have conflicting labels and orientations of their sockets. This means that I can never blindly plug in a USB-cable into any of the devices. Over time I learn which devices and which cables are the wrong way and then adjust for it.

Sure, USB-C is a solution for the issue. However, if the industry had implemented the USB standard correctly ever since, this whole problem would not be as big as one perceives it today.