What is the difference between a USB charging cable and a data cable?

Both USB charging cable and data cable are connecting cables. They look the same on the outside, but their functions are different. What is the difference between a usb charging cable and a data cable? How do you identify a charging cable or a data cable? ByteCable is here to prepared the most detailed guidance for you.

1. Functions

USB charging cable: It can only be used to charge the mobile phone and it without data transmission function.
USB data cable: It can charge, but also connect the mobile phone to the computer to transfer data.

Therefore, you can use the data cable for charging, but you cannot use the charging cable for data transmission.

2. Appearance

Generally speaking, USB charging cable is thinner than the data cable.

How to tell the difference between a charging and data cable from the appearance?

Turn the side with the contact piece of the USB port up, and check the number of contacts in the USB port. The charging cable has 2 contacts, and the data cable has 4 contacts.

Note: Some data cables have 4 contacts added to the USB port, but there are only two wires inside.

3. Internal structure

Data cables typically contain four wires (positive, negative, data transfer & data receive). The positive (+) and negative (-) wires carry electric power to the device while the other two data transfer (D+) and data receive (D-) wires are responsible for data exchange. USB charging cables only have the positive and negative power wires but lack the data exchange wires.


  • Red line: positive pole of power supply (wiring identification: +5V or VCC)
  • White line: Negative voltage data cable (identified as: Data- or USB Port -)
  • Green line: Positive voltage data cable (identified as: Data+ or USB Port +)
  • Black wire: GROUND (marked as: GROUND or GND)

This is the difference between Apple data cable and charging cable:

Lightning charging cable:

Lightning data cable:

For more information about USB charging and data cable, look at ByteCable USB cables suppliers.

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