All about USB OTG: What is It? How is It Used?

One of the features that I would love for Android to bring from the factory is precisely the OTG. But of course, what is OTG? How do I use it? Can my little android give me this functionality?

In the following article I hope to explore all these questions as much as possible. And, of course, with as few technical terms as possible, so that we can all understand each other and enjoy, as well, such a productive feature.

What is OTG?

The OTG or USB OTG (On-The-Go) is an extension of USB 2.0 that allows devices with USB ports more flexibility in managing such connection . Or what is the same (and speaking fast and bad), be able to connect any device via USB to our smartphone or tablet. Be it a digital camera, a USB stick, a USB modem, a keyboard, a mouse, etc. This is based on our terminal going from being a mere slave to being a host. This makes it possible for us to access other devices as a master. The most graphic example would be to connect a pendrive. We can access the information it contains simply by connecting it to our smartphone. Spring, right?

Imagine the possibilities that open before us. The ability to connect our smartphone to a hard drive and have all the movies and music we want instantly. Connect it to our DSLR and use our handset as an intervalometer or as an instant storage and editing device. There is a wide range of options that we can explore for ourselves according to sciencedict.

How do I use it?

But of course, not everything is light and pink. Our androids have a microUSB connector implantedand most of the devices we are going to access require a USB. That is why we will need a cable like the one below. An OTG AB USB cable that allows us to connect port  A (microUSB male) to portB (USB female). These cables are not expensive. In fact, if we inquire a little about the network, we can find a great variety in prices and lengths. The main electronics stores usually have a great catalog at a good price, although I always recommend Amazon.

The USB On The Go is easy to use, since it is simply plug and play. But, as I said before, not everything is light and color. And is that almost all appliances need power to operate. And of course, if our terminal does not bring factory OTG support (like my GalaxyS), it is normal to connect it, and still have the kernel flash, do not work. This happens because the microUSB port of the terminal does not emit electricity, since it is a slave. Almost all electronic devices work by receiving 5V (volts), which is what usually gives a current USB port. If we do not have USB OTG from the factory, our port will not give us the necessary voltage to operate the pendrive or the hard disk.

But let’s not give up. There is a solution to everything. And it is that connecting an external power , and thanks to a USB HUB (or a USB cable in Y), we can use the OTG “at pleasure”. In the image above we can see a scheme that explains all this quite well.

Can my little android give me this functionality?

Maybe this is the bitterest part of the article, because not all androids are compatible with this extension . And unfortunately there is no”official list” that we can give so that everyone can look if their device is in it. There are more Android than colors, so it is very difficult to make such a list. The best way to know if our terminal supports USB OTG is to enter specialized forums (XDA, AndroidCentral, HTCMania, etc.) and look in the corresponding section if any developer has put a kernel that we can flash to activate this functionality or, If the phone supports it at the factory, see how to activate it to take advantage of it. Sometimes it works, sometimes you need root, sometimes you need to flash a kernel… it ‘s a lottery.

The only thing that has occurred to me to palliate a little to those who do not know to look in the forums, is to elaborate a list by way of guide. Some of the smartphones and tablets that support OTG (in one way or another) are:

  • Samsung Galaxy s3
  • Samsung Galaxy S2
  • Samsung Galaxy S ( kernel install )
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab2 7.0 (P3100)
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
  • Nexus One ( kernel must be installed )
  • Nexus S (kernel must be installed)
  • Galaxy Nexus (with root and  StickMount )
  • LG Nexus 4 ( must install kernel )
  • Nexus 7
  • Nexus 10 (root is required for typing)
  • HTC Desire ( patch )
  • HTC One X (as of 4.1.1)
  • HTC One S (from 4.1.1)
  • Sony Xperia S
  • Sony Xperia P
  • Sony Xperia U
  • Sony Xperia Miro
  • Sony Xperia Acro S
  • Sony Xperia Go
  • Sony Xperia Pro
  • Sony Xperia Type
  • Sony Xperia Sola
  • Sony Tablet S (need  your own cable )
  • SE Xperia Arc S
  • SE Xperia Arc (as of 2.3.4)
  • SE Xperia Neo V
  • SE Xperia Play
  • Acer Iconia Tab A200
  • Acer Iconia Tab A500
  • Motorola RAZR
  • Motorola Atrix
  • Motorola Xoom
  • Motorola Xoom 2 (being root)
  • All BQ models except Davinci, Darwin and Voltaire
  • Various Chinese tablets
  • Of course, there are a thousand and one more devices that support OTG.But I put the ones I know, and it’s certified, that they serve. If your device is not on the list but you know it works, please leave a comment and we will add it as soon as possible.

Definitely

The USB OTG opens us another world apart. In our pocket we usually carry a minicomputer, even if we keep calling the phone (and every time we use less to call). That miniPC, with a five-inch screen (in some cases), coupled with a good car mount, a speaker without power, a pendrive and a good film, can make a night of luxury on the summit.

Think of a function and make it work!