We all want to make the best decision when purchasing phones, computers and similar everyday gadgets. In this process, simpler things, such as cables for charging your phone are chosen with much less care. Picking the best micro-USB cable for your device helps save some money and avoid potentially very problematic situations, but may also prove to be a very tedious task, but we are here to give you all the help we can in this search. Since many of us stock up on more and more different devices, we have also looked at cables with Lightning and type-C cables.
We have picked what we think to be the best USB cables for your smartphone, whether it is an Android phone with a Micro-B connector, an iPhone with its Lightning connector or one of the newest phones that use type-C connectors.
Table of contents:
Our picks for the best USB cables
All of the cables shown in the table above have a USB A 2.0 or 3.0 connector (which are compatible) on one end, and the connector(s) in the table on the other end. First three cables in the table are the cheaper yet reliable, middle-ground choices, the next four are more expensive, but accordingly, have extra features and the last two are one of the best cables currently for type-C devices specifically.
Main criteria to consider when buying a USB cable
The vast majority of Android smartphones today use a Micro-B connector to connect to other devices or chargers. Meanwhile, portable Apple products (iPhones, iPads, iPods) use the brand-specific Lightning connector. In addition to the previous two, the USB type-C standard is used more and more, because of its faster data transfer and charging speeds, and reversibility (doesn’t matter which side of the connector is up), but currently not many devices use it. All three connector standards have noticeable visual differences, thus making sure you buy the right cable is only a question of looking at your phone or the cable you already own.
The USB connector can either be a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0, the only difference here being the huge difference in data transfer speeds – USB 3.0 is theoretically 10x faster than 2.0 (in reality it is slightly less than 10x). USB 3.0 cables are accordingly slightly more expensive and, depending on how often you’d use the cable for transferring data, may not be super important – many people store and move their data solely on the internet these days, so keep your own needs in mind.
The place on the cable most prone to breaking is where the wire attaches to the connector, so a good cable should have this part made out of strong, durable materials, have a smart design to reduce stress, or both solutions combined. In this article, all the cables we look at are sturdy, made out of strong materials and are backed up by high customer ratings with very rare exceptions. But even a sturdy cable won’t survive long if you don’t treat it correctly, which is why we added some tips below to help you prolong the lifespan of your cables.
Both long and short cables have their pros and cons. Short cables (1ft/30cm and less) may prove more useful if you spend a lot of time in an office environment, where having less clutter and wires in your workspace is necessary, at the same time a cable too short may cause a whole array of problems when charging.
Long cables (6ft/2m and up), on the other hand, would be more useful when traveling, where sockets may not be as close as lounging areas, or just useful if you want to use the phone while it’s charging and don’t have a socket nearby, however, we can go back to the clutter issue in your workspace. Also, as it is discussed further, long cables can slow down the charging time of your phone.
3ft / 1m cables are the middle ground here if neither of the previously mentioned problems concern you too much.
The size of the connector housing
Some phone cases are thick and have a tiny opening around the connector inlet, so a connector with wide housing will not reach the inlet through the case. All cables on our list except the SwivelCord have relatively small connector housings and should not cause any problems with the vast majority of phone cases, however, if you own such a problematic case, be careful which cable you pick.
Charging and data transfer speeds
While the difference in data transfer speeds is very small between cables themselves, there are sometimes other, much more notable features of a cable that may change this. For example, USB 3.0 supports much higher data transfer speeds than 2.0, although this isn’t much of a concern unless you have a type-C connector on your device, that can drastically increase data transfer speeds.
As for picking the best micro USB cable for charging, companies try to use different materials and diameters of wires to reduce the resistance of the cable. Even the length can affect how fast your phone gets to 100% – to simplify, the electric current has to go through much more metal in a longer cable, thus a larger part of this energy is wasted in heating the wire because of its higher resistance. At the same time, a thicker wire will reduce charging times, since (again, simplified) a larger amount of charged particles can travel through the bigger cross-section of a thick cable. Overall you could feel a big difference only in super-cheap cables that manufacturers make out of the thinnest wire possible to save resources, but other than that charging speeds mainly depend on what amount of power your phone can handle and what your charger can dish out.
Best all-around choices
Best micro-USB cables with additional features
Best cables specifically for type-C
Tips for prolonging cable life
A well-made cable will last you longer than a cheap piece of junk, however, the way you treat any kind of cable may increase its lifetime much more than any bulletproof material or revolutionary design. Here are a few tips to make your cables last longer:
Store the cable in a way that reduces damage
Bending is the main way any cable is damaged – the process slowly deteriorates the insulation as well as the wires inside it, not to mention any connections between the cable and connectors. To avoid such damage, wrap cables you don’t currently use in a circle instead of folding it as this reduces damage on particular points and distributes the stress of the cable being bent to its entire length. There is a short video below showing roughly how any cable should be stored, the only thing to add there is maybe having a strap to hold the cable coil together instead of having it hold itself together, to also reduce stress.
The main principle is to try to bend and pull USB cables as little as possible, which can lead to a million different case specific tips, for example, don’t have an extension cord weigh a cable down, don’t stretch a cable too far as this applies a lot of stress to the connector head, don’t let a more insulated, heavier cable hang freely from the table and so on. Even things as simple as avoiding the nasty habit of wrapping a cable around your finger may drastically increase the lifespan of the cable.
Remove the connector head correctly
This may be a revision of a simple everyday tip for most people using electronics, but should nonetheless be reminded – you should never pull out a cable by holding it by the wire, you always hold the plug to reduce stress to connectors and cable connections as well as not breaking the socket! Although it may seem that a micro USB cable slides out of its socket very easily the same principle applies to these cables as well – when removing the cable from either a charger, a computer or your phone/tablet, hold it by the connector head. This drastically reduces stress on the most vulnerable part of any USB cable, which is where the wire enters the connector head, thus prolonging the cable life a lot.
Since the connector itself can dislodge from the connector housing, you should remove the cable from any socket as rarely as possible, for example, leave the cable connected to the charger unless you need the cable for anything else. Also, don’t move the connector side to side or remove it from its socket at an angle to avoid the same issue as before.
Micro USB Cable – Buying Guide – Summary
For devices using the micro-B connector, our pick for the best micro USB cable would be a Rampow cable – reliable and not too expensive when bought in a multi-pack, this cable will last for a long time and will look good while doing it, not to mention the incredible lifetime warranty. If you’re looking for the sturdiest, damage-resistant cable regardless of price, Syde Metal is your absolute best choice because of its military-grade protective measures, that make it almost indestructible. Anker PowerLine cables would be the second best when it comes to durability and the absolute best if you’re not going to throw your USB cable under a tank anytime soon and want to save some money for it.
In this article, we didn’t really focus on Lightning cables, but the Anker Powerline stands out here again with durability and reasonable price. The iXCC Element series USB cable stands out as well, which, considering the overwhelming amount of devices that use the micro-B connection as opposed to Lightning cables, may prove handy to anyone using an Apple product.
For type-C devices, the cheap Aukey type-C cables might be the best choice currently solely because of the low price that is complemented by decent durability, with Rampow type-C and the iXCC cable being good choices for type-C devices as well, considering their affordable price and high durability. As the popularity and amount of devices using the type-C connection grows, so does the amount of additional gear for them, so we will most likely revisit type-C cables.
With hundreds of different cables to go through, there is no one answer to what kind of cable would be perfect for your needs. However, we hope that one of our top picks for the best micro USB cables is what you found to be the most fitting for you and will last you a long while.