Mobile Device Accessories & Ports | CompTIA A+ 220-1001 | 1.5

In this video you will learn about connecting & configuring accessories and ports for mobile devices such as: wired connections, wireless connections, & mobile device accessories.

Connection Type:  Wired

Over the years, proprietary wired connections have been shifting to universal standards such as USB 3.  The following sections, we’re going to discuss various wired connection types such as:

  • Micro-USB, Mini-USB, USB-C
  • Lightning
  • Tethering
  • Proprietary vendor-specific ports (communication/power)

Micro-USB, Mini-USB, USB-C for Android and Windows

For many Android smartphones, the 5-pin mini-USB connector was the default connector.

5-pin mini-USB Connector

The USB-on-the-Go (micro-USB) connector became the standard for both Android smartphones & tablets.

USB On-the-Go

Some recent Android tablets use the reversible USB-C connector.

USB-C Connector

The majority of Windows smartphones & tablets (depending on the model) use the micro-USB or the USB-C connector.

Common Mobile USB Connectors

Lightning for Apple iOS

Apple iOS devices up through the iPhone 4 and 3rd-generation iPad used Apple’s 30-pin connector.  In 2012, iOS devices began using the 8-pin reversible Lightning connector.  However, the iPad Pro uses the USB Type C (USB-C) connector.

Tethering

Tethering, or phone-as-modem (PAM), is the sharing of a mobile device’s internet connection with other connected computers.  Connection of a mobile device with other devices can be done over wireless LAN (WiFi), over Bluetooth or by physical connection using a cable.  Most smartphones on the market are capable of sharing cellular data connections by way of tethering.  Wire tethering requires connecting the phone to a laptop via a connection cable.  When tethering is done wirelessly, the phone becomes what is known as a hotspot.

Wireless Tethering

Proprietary Vendor-Specific Ports (Communication/Power)

Over the years, every smartphone & tablet had its own proprietary connection cable for powering & syncing devices, such as Apple’s iOS 30-pin connector.  Older Android mobile devices used a variety of proprietary chargers.  To support these devices, multiple-head AC or 12V DC chargers were sold as well as dedicated cables.

Apple iOS 30-pin Connector

Connection Type:  Wireless

Some of the wireless connections that we will be discussing in the following sections is as follows:

  • NFC
  • Bluetooth
  • IR
  • Hotspot

NFC

Near-field communication is a set of communication protocols for communication between 2 electronic devices over a distance of 4cm or less.  NFC is a feature included with most mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to enable wireless data transfers, such as paying for items by swiping your phone at a checkout register.  For NFC payments, a payment system has to be installed on the mobile device (Apple Pay or Google Pay) to allow for the mobile device to engage in payment transactions with a retailer that supports NFC payments. NFC can also be used to transfer files between devices (referred to as “tap and go” or “Android Beam” on Android devices).  It can be enabled separately from NFC for payments. Currently, Apple does not permit its devices to transfer files via NFC except with Apple Pay & iTunes purchasing.  Apple’s AirDrop feature uses peer-to-peer WiFi for file sharing.

NFC (Near-Field Communication)

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard used for exchanging data between fixed and mobile devices over short distances using short-wavelength UHF (ultra high frequency) radio waves from 2.402 GHZ to 2.480 GHz. Bluetooth began as a technology mainly designed to operate in peer-to-peer (or ad hoc) mode between PCs and other devices.  Before a Bluetooth device can work with your computer or mobile device, it must be paired with the device. To connect a Bluetooth device to a mobile device, Bluetooth needs to be enabled. Then the Bluetooth device needs to be synchronized (paired or linked) to the mobile device.  Sometimes the synchronization process requires a PIN code.  Once synchronized, the device can be connected.

IR

Infrared (or infrared light) is electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths longer than those of visible light. It is therefore generally invisible to the human eye, although IR at wavelengths up to 150 nanometers from specially pulsed lasers can be seen by humans under certain conditions. If your smartphone can be used to control your TV, it has an IR blaster onboard. Normally this feature is designed for use with TV and home theater remote control apps rather than for data transfer.

 Hotspot

Mobile hotspots are also known as portable hotspots. A hotspot is a blend of software, hardware & network data services that combine to transform a phone into the equivalent of a broadband modem and router. A smartphone becomes a hotspot by sharing its internet connection by creating a small WiFi network.  The phone generates a changeable default password that other WiFi devices can use to access the smartphone’s network to get access to the web.

Accessories

In the following sections we’ll discuss various mobile device accessories such as:

  • Headsets
  • Speakers
  • Game pads
  • Extra battery packs/battery chargers
  • Protective covers/waterproofing
  • Credit card readers
  • Memory/microSD

Headsets

Mobile devices typically feature the same 3.5mm mini-jack that is available on computers for headsets.  Wireless Bluetooth headsets are available for mobile devices such as smartphones for hands-free telephone use.

3.5mm Headphone Jack

Speakers

Most portable speakers use Bluetooth in place of the 3.5mm mini-jack speaker cable. Portable speakers also have rechargeable batteries in addition to some having a USB cable that is used only for recharging.

Game Pads

Game pads (also known as joy pads) are video game controllers with either Lightning connections (iOS controllers) or Bluetooth connections that can be used with smartphones or tablets for game play.  They can contain joystick and thumb controls.

Smartphone Game pad

Extra Battery Packs/Battery Chargers

A portable battery charger (aka a portable power bank) is a portable charger designed to recharge electronic devices when on the move. This type of device has an onboard battery with a USB connection that can be used to charge a mobile device.

Portable Power Bank

These devices differ in terms of the following characteristics:

  • mAh (milliampere-hour) rating:  The higher the rating, the more charges the device can supply before it needs to be recharged.
  • Amperage output:  An output rating of 2.1A or higher is needed to charge an iPad or Android tablet.
  • Number of USB charging ports:  A portable battery charger may have one or more charging ports.  Having 2 or more USB charging ports can be useful when you have multiple devices to charge.

Protective Covers/Waterproofing

Smartphones or tablets can be easily damaged without a protective cover.  Cracked or broken screens are very common problems with mobile devices. It is highly recommended that a clear plastic screen protector is applied to the device to allow for the protector absorb the scratches of daily use and abuse which comes at a fraction of the cost of a screen replacement. Another good investment would be a rubberized protective cover with raised edges to prevent or minimize damage to the casing of the mobile device which could potentially lead to other system failures.  For protection against dampness, invest in a cover that offers weather sealing.

Credit Card Readers

Credit card readers for smartphones and tablets are another popular accessory which enables credit card transactions from virtually anywhere.  Credit card readers plug into the 3.5mm headset jack and (depending on model) are capable of accepting magnetic strip cards, chip cards, and NFC (contactless) payments.  The Square reader is the most popular mobile card reader out on the market. Some readers are designed to work as point-of-sale (POS) systems, with support for cash drawers and the printing of receipts.  Prior to purchasing a system, always make sure it is compatible with your operating system.

Square Credit Card Reader

Memory/MicroSD

Android-based and Windows-based mobile devices typically offer microSD card slots, but iOS devices do not have upgradeable storage.  Depending on the operating system a device uses, it might be possible to store some apps on the memory card.

microSD Card