Universal Serial Bus cables, come in many different sizes and specifications, including the USB Mini 4-pin and 5-pin connectors. The connectors are not interchangeable and are built to function with different devices. USB Mini connectors were developed for use with on-the-go electronics smaller than the computers for which USB cables originated.
The USB Mini 5-pin and 4-pin connectors evolved from standard USB cables, which were created by the USB Implementers Forum to facilitate the transmission between computers and peripheral devices such as a mouse and keyboard. Both types of USB Mini cables are designed with one smaller, "mini," connector and one standard-size connector; the 4-pin connector is even smaller than its 5-pin counterpart. They are capable of performing the same functions, including transferring data and providing power to peripheral devices, if applicable.
USB Mini 5-pin connectors meet the specifications for mini cables set forth by the USB Implementers Forum. The USB Mini 4-pin connector is an unofficial connector that was developed by third parties specifically for use with digital cameras, according to Cables To Go. The USB 5-pin connector can be used with various digital cameras, cell phones and other small electronic devices. The different size and number of pins make the each of the two types of cables unique and incompatible with peripheral devices that accept only the other.
Both types of USB Mini cables are based on the original host and slave functionality, meaning that one device, which is typically a computer, acts as a host, while the other, which is typically a peripheral, acts as a slave. The host dictates the actions that take place and the information that is transferred, while the slave device provides the host with information and completes requests that are given to it. Both types of USB Mini cables are capable of functioning on the USB 2.0 standard.
Devices that utilize USB Mini 4-pin and 5-pin connectors stopped being manufactured in the mid-2000s. Smartphones, digital cameras and other small electronics have reverted to the newer micro-USB standard. Micro-USB cables feature a smaller connector for these devices, as USB technology continues to evolve to function with increasingly thinner electronics. A type of micro-USB cable known as micro-USB AB has connectors that are both capable of acting as a host or slave depending on the devices they're connected to. Neither type of USB Mini cable is made for the USB 3.0 standard.
- Photo Credit Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Getty Images