Wednesday, October 2, 2013

USB 2.0 Micro-B - MHL - The difference in real life terms - with pictures!

I get so many questions from people asking why a regular Micro USB extension won't work on their new Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, Note 2, etc..  They have a case on their phone and it won't fit into the dock they have.  I've heard about 11 pin connectors, and 14 pin connectors, and they heard something from a friend or bought something from Hong Kong on eBay and are upset because it just doesn't work.

Well, hopefully this blog will help to answer most of the questions out there and take some of your frustrations and questions about it.

First, there is a USB 2.0 Micro-B Female (Receptacle) on most, if not all, Samsung Galaxy/Note phones.  However, look closely, there are differences.

Samsung Galaxy S2 - I personally have this phone as of today, October 2, 2013.  It has a pretty standard USB 2.0 Micro-B receptacle, and it's also MHL compatible, which means that a regular Micro-B Male will fit into it and work fine, but if I want MHL capability, I have to buy an MHL adapter that will work with it.  Think MHL 1.0  Here's one from Newegg: Product Link

Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, Note 2 - These all use a special USB 2.0 Micro-B / MHL connector - but if the last one is MHL 1.0, think of this one as MHL 2.0, since it has 11 pins in it.  The connector design is a bit different, which also means that the fit is different.

From the image below - you'll see two phones.  The top phone is a new Galaxy S4.  The bottom phone is a Galaxy S2.  The easiest way to tell the difference between the two ports is pointed out by the red arrow.  You will see the notch in the MHL 2.0, which you don't have in the MHL 1.0

While a Micro-B will plug into either one for charging, the MHL functionality is different.

MHL 1.0 could be extended with a standard USB 2.0 Micro-B, 5 wire connector, Here's one from Product Link

MHL 2.0 requires a special 11pin connector.  The MHL 2.0 (left, below) inserts almost 2mm further than a standard Micro-B (right below) connector.  It also looks just a little different - you can see the ridge that fits into the notch that we noted in the receptacle above.

See the image below

In the end, the two are somewhat compatible, but definitely not fully.  To extend MHL 1.0, you can use a standard Micro-B 5 wire extension, that we linked to above.  To extend MHL 2.0, you need one of our MHL 2.0 extensions, which will arrive mid-October 2013.  Product Link to MHL Extensions


Darren said...

On your product page, you wrote:

"If you're using a Samsung SmartDock, which uses OTG and MHL functionality, MHL (HDMI) will work, but OTG (USB) will not, so functionality will be limited."

Can you please explain what functionality is lost when using your extension cable with the SmartDock?

What I'm trying to achieve is this:

I have a Galaxy Note 2 and I want to plug it into the SmartDock so I can record screencasts of apps/games on my phone (as I'm using the phone normally). In other words, I need the freedom to hold my phone in landscape position, use the S pen, and use the accelerometer sensor in some cases. Doing all that with the SmartDock attached would be pretty awkward, but doing it with just the extension cable attached would be easy--just like using the phone when it's charging.

Rick Wessley said...

Great question posted above!

The MHL extension that we sell at is for MHL functionality; this includes HDMI sound/video as well as charging if it's plugged into a sufficient power source. The Samsung SmartDock adds an extra feature to the MHL functionality which causes the USB ports to also fucntion. It's made possible by utilizing the 'dock mode' of the phone. At this point, we're determining what causes the different phone models to go into dock mode. If it's possible for us to add that in, then ll add that circuitry to a new version. That cable will be called an MHL/Dock extension. Hope that helps.

Andrew Stainer said...

I picked up an MHL adapter on an unnamed auction site which said it would work on my S2. It arrived and it doesn't as it's actually an MHL 2 adapter. Would the USB Micro-B Extension adapter/cable enable me to plug it into my Galaxy S2?

Rick W. said...

Andrew, the Galaxy S2 uses MHL 1.0, rather than MHL 2.0. So, for the S2, you could use a 5 wire Micro-B extension, as found on our site, here:

Andrew Stainer said...

Hi Rick, thanks for your response and sorry but please clarify, a 5 wire Micro-B extension will enable me to use an MHL 2.0 Adapter (®-Multi-functional-Connection-Adapter-Samsung/dp/B00E6RR6E6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394804861&sr=8-1&keywords=mhl+adapter+otg) with my Galaxy S2? So MHL version has nothing to do with 5 or 11 pins? Thanks, Andrew

Rick Wessley said...

Hi Andrew, that's a great question. Micro-USB 5pin works with MHL 1.0, and the 11pin on newer Samsung phones (such as the S4 and Note 2) work with the MHL 2.0 connector (however, the 11pin receptacle in those same phones is backwards compatible with the previous 5pin Micro-B connector, too)

Stuart Bell said...

I have purchased and fitted a Pioneer App Radio into my car at great cost. It needed a MHL adaptor to connect to my phone so I ordered the official pioneer one which was also ridiculously expensive. This doesn't work, and the Internet tells me that it may be because it's a 5 pin and I need a 11pin for my Note 3. Do you have an adaptor which can sort this issue out? If you do, will it work for what I need it for?

Rick Wessley said...

Stuart, that is correct (sort of). The Samsung Note 3 uses a dual Micro-USB and MHL connector. TO get the HDMI Functionality, you have to use an MHL extension. As you've probably seen with our blog post - the MHL connector is a little longer than the Micro-USB. The MHL connector is indeed 11 pins, but normally only 5 wires go through it. The MHL functionality comes from a chip inside the connector. I've never seen anyone actually run all 11 wires through. I've asked why an 11pin was used, since no one uses 11 wires.. but no one has even given us a good answer on it.

Scrapper69 said...

Could you tell me which would work best on a Kindle fire HD? I got the kindle for my mom and it takes a Micro B and I want to use a connector so she can watch shows on her big TV instead of the little kindle device.... SO I'm trying to figure out which HDMI cord to get her to fit inside the device... I read your review and I think I'm suppose to go with the 1.0? But not 100% sure... so if you could guide me in the right direction I can get her the correct cable to work with her kindle/HDMI TV Thanks for any info!

Rick Wessley said...

The Kindle Fire HD comes with a Micro-HDMI port, as well as a USB port. To connect it to a TV, you'll need to use the HDMI port on your kindle, as well as on your TV.

Here's a link to a cable that I've used with the kindle that I have on this blog.

Mark Kanzler said...


I have a Samsung Galaxy S5 ACTIVE (SM-G870A)

My wife has a Samsung Galaxy S5 (SM-G900A)

My USB port looks different than hers - apparently due to an additional portion of the plug for rapid charging (?).

My question is, which version of the MHL does the ACTIVE (G870A) use?
Does it use the 11 pin MHL 2.0 or the 5 Pin MHL 1.0?

Does my wife's S5 (G900A) use the same? I think it uses MHL 2.0. but I'm not sure.

Thanks, in advance

Mark Kanzler said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rick Wessley said...

From the photos I've seen of the Active, it looks like it should support the same MHL 2.0 connector. There's a little notch in it that both of them have that is the telltale sign for MHL 2.0. Good luck to you!

MHL 1.0 (5 pin) hasn't been used for years, I don't think it's been on anything since the Galaxy S2

newone said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rick Wessley said...

ATTENTION - For those of you who are commenting. I am OK with comments that are helpful to users - even with links to your own products! But don't post a comment just so that you can put a sales link in to something. People read these postings and comments so that they can get help; not so that you can just post a link to some advertisement link that you make money from.

Come on, folks - this should be a resource, not a sales forum.

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Unknown said...

I have a Huawei P9 Lite. What should I be using to connect it to my TV via HDMI.
It does seem to respond to the MHL adapter at all.

Rick Wessley said...


Excellent question on the Huawei P9 Lite.

I did some research, and it appears that your phone DOES NOT support MHL.

While researching, I found a lot of misinformation that would appear to indicate that you can connect an MHL adapter and connect HDMI. However, if you look at the official Huawei website, you'll see that it's a Micro-B port, and not an MHL port.

I'd recommending contacting Huawei to see what options to have to display it on your screen. There is a likely a way, just not with MHL.