What is USB OTG, and what is its practical utility?

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What is USB OTG, and what is its practical utility?

5 smart ways to use it on Android

USB drives are very convenient, but they cannot be used with mobile phones. Of course, unless you have an Android smartphone and know what USB OTG is.

USB On-The-Go (OTG) is a standard specification that allows a device to read data without using a PC. The device becomes, in practice, a USB "host", which is not seen on all gadgets.


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This function allows you to do many things. For example, you could connect a USB stick to your cell phone, or use an old game controller with a tablet.

The easiest way to check if your Android phone or tablet supports USB OTG is to check the box it came with, or consult the manufacturer's website. You will see a logo like the one in the photo of this article, or the expression USB OTG in specifications.

Another method is to use a free app like Easy OTG Checker. Not all Android devices support USB OTG, the function must be specifically provided by the manufacturer.

What do you need to use USB OTG? Your Android device has a standard micro-USB or USB-C port. Most devices, however, require a full-sized USB port. The problem can be solved with a micro-USB or USB-C, male to female, normal size USB converter or adapter.

There are also USB sticks on the market with both standard and micro USB ports, such as the Kingston Micro Duo.

So what can you do with the USB OTG function? there 5 of the most common uses:

1) Connect flash drives and external hard drives

Is there little space left on your smartphone? The first thing that comes to mind to expand it is to use a key (there are huge capacities) or a portable external hard drive. The latter do not always work, because they draw current from the mobile phone, but if they are equipped with their own power supply they usually work without problems.

Both types of drives must be formatted in FAT32, as NTFS does not work properly with Android.

2) Play with video game controllers

Android Pie (the latest version of the operating system) natively supports the Xbox One controller. But the old Xbox 360 controller also works with Android devices via USB OTG. Playing with a controller is very easy, you just need to make sure that the game is compatible with the controller.

3) Control Android with keyboard and mouse

The "open" nature of Android makes it easy to connect virtually any device. If you want to use your tablet as a notebook it is essential to use a keyboard and mouse. Android works well with most wired and wireless keyboards and mice.

It would be ideal to use a keyboard and mouse with only one receiver, as you only have one USB port available. Also remember that the famous USB "hubs" do not work with USB OTG.

The purchase should be oriented towards a wireless set compatible with all platforms, as long as it does not have the appropriate software to be used (like some Logitech devices).

4) Print directly from a printer

Printers with a standard plug-and-play USB port also work well with Android devices. With the latter you can print without a wireless connection and without having to transfer anything to a PC.

Android does not support USB Mass Storage (used to transfer files) for a long time. Modern Android devices use the MTP or PTP protocols, so if you want to print photos and documents you will have to choose these modes when you insert the USB cable into your mobile phone (a drop-down menu will appear from which you can make your choice).

Obviously it's easier if the printer has Wi-Fi support.

5) Check a SLR camera

If you are a photography enthusiast you will be pleased to know that you can control your SLR with an Android device and turn it into a giant screen, with the ability to focus, control shutter speed, take photos and much more.

What is needed? First of all, the app DSLR controller and, ideally, a Canon camera. With some Nikon and Sony it works, but there is no official support.

Do you have an old, unused tablet or mobile phone? With these applications you can give them new life, try it!

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