The Best Micro-USB Cable | Reviews by Wirecutter

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The Best Micro-USB Cable | Reviews by Wirecutter

While we're no longer updating this piece, we still stand behind our recommendations, if they're still available.

Micro-USB cables aren’t the charging cables we deserve: They charge more slowly than Lightning and USB-C, and they’re nearly impossible to plug in right-side up on the first try. But for many devices—from Bluetooth speakers to baby monitors—they’re the charging cables we need. After spending 13 hours testing 11 models, we think the best Micro-USB cable for most people is the Anker PowerLine Micro-USB (3ft) cable.

This cable is well made and inexpensive, and it performed well in every test we threw at it.

The Anker PowerLine Micro-USB (3ft) cable has sturdy plastic housings that are the perfect size and shape to grip firmly—the best way to avoid breakage—while you’re plugging and unplugging. Its metal connectors slide smoothly into ports and then stay put, ensuring a strong connection. The Anker PowerLine has a slim, flexible body encased in water-resistant rubber, and (in addition to the 3-foot version we recommend) is available in 4-inch, 1-foot, 6-foot, and 10-foot variations. Our pick is also available in multipacks from some retailers, including Amazon and Walmart. The Anker PowerLine has an 18-month warranty, from a company with helpful and responsive customer service, and it’s one of the least expensive cables we tested.

Also great AmazonBasics USB Type-C to Micro-B 2.0 CableSame speed, USB-C connector This cable is sturdily built, and it works just as well as competing models that cost twice as much.Buying OptionsBuy from Amazon

This cable is sturdily built, and it works just as well as competing models that cost twice as much.

If you need a Micro-USB–to–USB-C cable—to connect to a MacBook Pro or other USB-C power source—the AmazonBasics USB Type-C to Micro-B 2.0 Cable is the best we’ve found. The housings around the neck of the plugs are flimsier than the ones on the Anker PowerLine cables, but like our top pick, this cable’s metal connectors fit snugly in corresponding ports. The AmazonBasics has a slim, rubber-encased body, and it’s available in a wide range of lengths, from 6 inches to 6 feet. It’s relatively inexpensive and backed by a one-year warranty.

This is the best three-in-one cable (Micro-USB, USB-C, and Lightning) we’ve tested, and it has a lifetime warranty.

The Anker PowerLine II 3-in-1 Cable is nearly identical to our top pick, but it has Lightning and USB-C adapters attached to the main cable by short, flexible tethers. We don’t recommend three-in-one cables for everyday use—the adapters add extra bulk and can be fussy to use—but they can be handy for travel or as a backup, so you don’t have to keep three cables on you at all times. Anker’s 3-foot cable is well built, easy to use, and highly portable, and the Lightning plug is MFi-certified to work with iOS devices. Plus, it has a lifetime warranty.

This cable is well made and inexpensive, and it performed well in every test we threw at it.

This cable is sturdily built, and it works just as well as competing models that cost twice as much.

This is the best three-in-one cable (Micro-USB, USB-C, and Lightning) we’ve tested, and it has a lifetime warranty.

I’ve tested hundreds of cables and adapters for Wirecutter, as well as other charging gear like surge protectors, rechargeable AA and AAA batteries, and solar chargers.

For a previous version of this guide, we consulted with a former NASA engineer, Lee Johnson, who dissected 30 different Micro-USB cables to examine their internal components. For the most recent update, we interviewed a representative from the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the nonprofit group supported by Apple, HP, Intel, and other tech giants to publish the USB standards and maintain compliance programs.

Micro-USB is one of the most common charging standards for handheld devices, at least for now. The metal connector (the part that plugs into your device) looks like a smushed, sideways capital D. Several thin grooves and raised bumps on the side of the connector keep it firmly in place once it’s plugged in.

Chances are good you have a Micro-USB cable at home that came with a small, rechargeable device like an Android smartphone or tablet, a power bank, a Bluetooth speaker, wireless headphones, a bike light, an inflatable lantern, a wireless mouse or keyboard, or a baby monitor.

But the chances are also good that the one you have is frayed or otherwise unable to make a solid connection anymore, or maybe you’d just like a spare or longer cable. If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered.

We scoured Amazon, Google Shopping, and other major retailers to find the most widely available Micro-USB cables. There are literally hundreds of brands selling Micro-USB cables, so we disregarded those made by companies we’d never heard of and those with a limited online presence. In our experience, less-established brands have a harder time keeping products in stock and providing adequate customer support. And cables from well-known companies often cost just pennies more.

From there, we narrowed our search based on the following criteria and looked for cables with these features:

This left us with a list of 11 models to test:

For a previous version of this guide, we sent 30 Micro-USB cables to a former NASA engineer, who tore them apart to examine their internals. Independently, we also tested each cable’s charging and data-transfer rates. But in that testing, and after years of long-term testing, we’ve found no major differences—in terms of charging and data-transfer speeds—between our picks and Micro-USB cables from other well-known brands. Any Micro-USB cable worth its salt—even Micro-USB–to–USB-C cables—can carry up to 15 W of charging power (although most tap out around 12 W) and transfer data at sluggish USB 2.0 speeds (up to 480 Mbps).

However, despite these uniformities, we’ve noticed that a lot of cables—even those costing two or three times as much as our picks—start to come apart after a few years of everyday use. Reader comments and customer reviews both indicate that the biggest complaint about cables is that they eventually break, especially if you aren’t careful about how you plug and unplug them.

Building on those experiences, we’ve changed the way we test Micro-USB cables. For our latest round of testing, we primarily focused on the build quality of each cable’s housings (the plastic or rubber part you hold onto when plugging and unplugging the cable) and sheath (the material encasing the metal wires inside) and judged them in terms of sturdiness, comfort, and ease of use. We coiled and uncoiled the cables, and packed them into pockets and zip-up pouches, to test their portability. We plugged both ends into a variety of devices, making sure the metal connectors fit snugly into corresponding ports.

Although we tested some cables encased in braided nylon and other fabrics, and we recommend cables with fabric sheaths in other guides, we’ve found that many of them are prone to pilling, like the fuzz on an old sweater, or snagging on keys and random detritus at the bottom of a backpack. In terms of functionality, we didn’t find fabric-encased Micro-USB cables easier or more enjoyable to use than rubber-encased ones. For this reason, coupled with the fact that fabric options typically cost a few dollars more than their rubbery counterparts, none of them made the cut for this guide. But if a fabric sheath is your thing, for aesthetics or any other reason, check out our full testing notes in the Competition section.

This cable is well made and inexpensive, and it performed well in every test we threw at it.

Why we love it: The Anker PowerLine Micro-USB (3ft) is pretty much the ideal Micro-USB cable. Its plastic housings are wide enough for you to get a firm grip, and robust enough to withstand breakage from everyday use. The rubber-encased body of the cable is slim and flexible, making it easy to coil up and stow in a pocket. Its metal connectors fit snugly in the USB-A and Micro-USB ports we plugged them into, staying firmly in place with minimal wiggling.

We think this 3-foot cable is the perfect length to reach from most wall outlets to the floor, a table, or countertop (assuming you want to put your device down while it charges) without being overly bulky. At the same time, we realize that people have different needs, so we appreciate that this cable comes in multiple lengths. In addition to the 3-foot version, it’s also available in 4-inch, 1-foot, 6-foot, and 10-foot versions—more length options than we found with any other model we tested.

This cable is backed by Anker’s 18-month warranty, and we’ve had good experiences dealing with Anker’s customer service in the past. The PowerLine cable also happens to be one of the least expensive cables we tested, in any category, at the time of this writing. Plus, if you need more than one cable at a time (for home, the office, or your car) some retailers, including Amazon and Walmart, sell our pick in packs of three or five.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: We would have preferred a cable certified by USB-IF, as an added reassurance that it meets all of the standards set by the world’s largest device-makers. But we were unable to find any Micro-USB–to–USB-A cables with this certification that would have otherwise qualified for testing, so we didn’t make it a requirement.

Also, not every length option is available in every color option at a given time. Color doesn’t matter much to some people. But if you really wanted a 3-foot Micro-USB cable in black—perhaps to match the color of your soul—you’d be disappointed to learn that this cable is available only in gray. And, honestly, so would we.

This cable is sturdily built, and it works just as well as competing models that cost twice as much.

Why we love it: Of every Micro-USB–to–USB-C cable we’ve tested, the AmazonBasics USB Type-C to Micro-B 2.0 Cable is the clear winner. The slim, rubber-encased body of the cable looks and feels identical to that of the Anker. Its compact size lends itself well to being packed up and carried around, stored in a drawer, or left plugged into a charger. Its metal connectors slid smoothly into various ports and stayed firmly in place when plugged in.

If the 3-foot version is available, we think it’s the ideal length for most people. But it’s also available in two other lengths: 6-inches (nice for charging at your desk) and 6 feet (better for a nightstand or other places you might want to charge from while you’re using your device). This cable is backed by Amazon’s one-year warranty. It’s also USB-IF-certified, which means it has passed an additional round of compliance testing compared with cables without this certification. Finally, it’s relatively inexpensive, costing about half as much as other models we tested in this category.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: There are only a handful of Micro-USB–to–USB-C cables from reputable vendors on the market, and for good reason. They don’t charge any faster than their Micro-USB–to–USB-A brethren—both types of cable support up to 15 watts of charging power, and transfer data at USB 2.0 speeds—yet they generally cost a bit more, likely because they’re a niche item. But you’ll need one if you want to charge legacy devices from a USB-C port, like on a MacBook Pro or one of our favorite fast chargers, without an adapter.

Another key drawback—aside from having to pay a future-proofing premium—is this cable’s housing design. Compared with the sturdy, plastic housings on the Anker PowerLine, which are comfortable to grip while plugging and unplugging, the AmazonBasics housings are more angular and clunky. But we think this is a fine tradeoff, since the other available options in this category cost twice as much or more.

This is the best three-in-one cable (Micro-USB, USB-C, and Lightning) we’ve tested, and it has a lifetime warranty.

Why we love it: A three-in-one cable is, essentially, a USB-A–to–Micro-USB cable with Lightning and USB-C adapters attached by short tethers. Although we don’t recommend them for everyday use, because the adapters add extra bulk and can be fussy to use, we think they’re handy for traveling when you don’t want to carry three separate cables, or as a backup to keep in your desk drawer. Of the ones we tried, the Anker PowerLine II 3-in-1 Cable was the clear winner. It’s MFi-certified, which means you can trust the Lightning adapter will work properly with iOS devices, and it’s sturdy and well made—holding up impeccably after more than two years of occasional use. Even with the attached adapters, it has a slim profile that’s easy to coil up and stow in a bag. This cable’s adapters—the pieces that turn the Micro-USB connector into either a Lightning or USB-C connector—were the easiest to plug and unplug of any we tried, and stayed firmly in place once connected. Plus, the PowerLine II is backed by Anker’s lifetime warranty.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: All three-in-one cables are an inelegant solution to address the multitude of cable standards and connectors needed to charge common devices. But if you regularly use all three ports (Micro-USB, USB-C, and Lightning) and hate carrying around three different cables, this is a decent option. It’s available in only one length, but that’s not a huge deal since it’s best used for travel anyway—a longer cable would likely be too bulky to stash in a pocket. We also wish its rubber adapter tethers were made of a stronger material—we haven’t had one break yet, but we fear that they could tear off after repeated, everyday use.

We tested, and ultimately dismissed, these Micro-USB–to–USB-A cables:

We tested and dismissed these Micro-USB–to–USB-C cables:

We tested and dismissed these three-in-one (Lightning, Micro-USB, USB-C) cables:

We tested the Scosche Reversible Micro USB Cable because it’s the only Micro-USB cable with a “reversible” design—the plug has a symmetrical shape, so if you plug it in upside down, it will still work—that we’ve found from a well-established brand. It’s a nice idea, since plugging in a Micro-USB cable often involves squinting at its connector and the corresponding port for several seconds to properly match them up. But after testing this cable, we don’t think the idea has been fully realized. To allow the cable to be plugged in both ways, it lacks the small ridges that normally keep a Micro-USB connector securely plugged in—so it can easily become disconnected and stop working. Also, according to the USB-IF representative we interviewed, “reversible” Micro-USB cables “have never been defined in any USB specifications,” so we don’t feel confident in this one’s ability to perform as well as cables that are.

A bit of care can prolong the life of any cable. Most important, when you’re unplugging a cable from a USB port, always grasp the plug housing rather than the cable. Doing so reduces the stress on the area where the cable and the plug meet—a spot prone to damage.

We also recommend loosely wrapping cables, rather than folding or otherwise aggressively bending them, when you aren’t using them. Tight coils and folds can damage the metal wires inside the cable, causing it to work improperly and shorten its lifespan. The hook-and-loop fasteners that Anker includes with most of its cables are great for this, since they allow a loosely coiled cable to hold its shape for compact storage. We have more tips for safely storing your cables, in our guides to the best bag organizers and the best gear for organizing your desk.

Sarah Witman has researched, tested, and reviewed all manner of products—from massage chairs and mousetraps to pencils and power banks—since joining Wirecutter in 2017. Before that, she worked as a science writer and fact checker for numerous publications, and she studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin. In her spare time, she eats as much cheese as her body will tolerate.

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The Best Micro-USB Cable | Reviews by Wirecutter

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