Lately, many people have noticed an increasing trend to use Micro USB cables where, previously, companies would have used a Mini USB connector. There are a few different reasons as to why this makes more sense from a business perspective - smaller parts means less expense, for instance - but is it a good thing or a bad thing for the consumer? Well, rather than a simple yes or no answer, it's best to give a full explanation of the differences between the two standards.
First of all, let's get the obvious difference out of the way. Micro USB is smaller than Mini USB. The Micro connector is roughly half the size of its Mini counterpart. It is a similar width when viewed straight on from the top but much slimmer when viewed from the side. This has a benefit of decreasing the size change from cable to connector which helps prevent a somewhat serious problem. Cheaper Mini cables would, if used frequently enough, actually experience wire breakage inside the cable at the point where the cable and connector meet. The reason is a bit involved but the short version is that the size difference led to a stress point on the wire at the meeting point. The smaller size of the Micro's connector decreases this stress which leads to less wire breakages.
Micro USB connectors also have another significant advantage over Mini connectors. If you have a Micro connector nearby, take a careful look at it and you'll notice two small, thin strips, almost like hooks, on one of the flat sides. Mini connectors didn't have these which is a shame. You see, these small pieces of metal are actually there to help keep the cable securely in place inside whatever device they're plugged into. Due to their small size and particular shape, however, they manage to keep the cable secure without causing any problems with removal or insertion of the connector. If you've ever tried to plug in a power supply or data cable that uses a piece of plastic that must be pushed down to remove it, you'll instantly understand how nice a feature it is to keep the ease of insertion and removal without sacrificing connection security. Another design advantage that Micro has over Mini is simply the different shapes of the connectors. Mini, much like the original USB connectors, can sometimes refuse to go inside for whatever reason, regardless of whether it's right side up or not. With Micro, however, as long as the connector is right side up it will almost always slide in easily the first time, assuming no obstructions or debris are on the connector or in the slot.
For these basic reasons, it's easy to see why Micro is replacing Mini as the USB cable of choice for such frequent use devices as cell phones, bluetooth headsets, and the like. That's not to say, however, that Mini is going away any time soon. Mini is a perfect choice for devices that use thicker cables and aren't being frequently moved, such as external CD, DVD, and hard drives. That being said, the choice to switch from Mini to Micro isn't just good for the companies making that switch. In the end, it's also a good move for anyone who uses their products.
About the Author
Michael Alvarez has been working in the electronics and technology field for over 20 years. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and expertise of micro and mini usb cables with others; while continuing to grow his knowledge.