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The Lumia 950 and USB OTG: Thumb drives, microphones and keyboards

In our review of the Microsoft Lumia 950 I noted that there is support for USB OTG and Type-C peripherals. Now, we'll go more in-depth and show you some of the more practical things you can do with it using a cheap USB Type-C adapter.

The gist of the technology means that you can use external storage like a USB thumb drive or any USB card reader and connect it up to your Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL. Using the build in File Explorer in Windows 10 Mobile you can then browse the drive, view and edit files like .docx, .pdf, image files and music, create folders, move things around and more.

Obviously the big benefit here would be for students or those in enterprise who need to transfer documents or access files on their phone from an external storage source.

You can also use USB microphones like the BLUE Yeti microphone (opens in new tab) for higher-quality audio recording.

You can connect up a wireless or even wired mouse too, which results in a mouse cursor on your phone. However, we did have stability issues on occasion. Likewise, keyboards work as well for typing.

Unfortunately, connecting up an Xbox controller had no benefit and no, it did not work with Halo Spartan Strike. Seeing as these are mostly driver issues, and this is technically Windows 10, we suppose Microsoft could roll out wider support for various USB peripherals.

Regardless, it is clear now that our phones are running Windows 10 OS, so none of this should be too surprising. Still, if you can now know that this does work in case you were on the fence. Certainly this also opens the door for more USB peripherals for Windows Phone in the future, and that is very exciting.

For more information on Microsoft's Type-C support you can read their documentation:

Microsoft: Windows support for USB Type-C connectors (opens in new tab)

Watch our hands-on video and let us know what you think!

USB Type-C Adapters Tested

Where to buy

Want to know which Type-C cable to get? How about a micro SD card? Read these guides for the best tips.

News

Want all the latest news on these phones? Hit these topic pages for all that we got.

Support and help forums

Want to chat about the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL? Jump into our forums and ask others what they think or get help and advice on your new phone!

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

275 Comments
  • ZOMG...
  • So... In 3 years time Apple will reinvent usbotg and it'll be magical and the best ever!!!
  • Dock connector on old iPhones and the new Lightning connector since iPhone 5 all support various accessories, so in fact we're really late here.
  • U cant connect an iphone to a usb portable storage, so.............u are wrong.
  • No, you're wrong. We're late.
    Old iPhone can support accessories from old 30 pin connector and Earphone jack and Lightning can connect to flash drive too.
    Android support for OTG since years ago.
    Everything you can plug into Windows Phone prior to Windows 10 and working is just a charger in USB port and Earphone in phone jack. You can't even use earphone button and bluetooth shutter button to take a photo.
  • Not that it really matters but I'm pretty sure neater iPhone or android supportes mouse. And also pretty sure iPhone does not support a standard usb drive.
  • Android supports USB mouse and thumb drives since at least 4.0 (tried it myself). Don't know abut iPhone.
  • Pretty sure there was mouse support on Android 1.5
  • iOS doesn't have mouse support which annoys me as we use them to remote into desktop PCs occassionally.
  • That is extremely stupid. This is what happens when you only look at one platform and then make comments. Congratulations, you sound like a jackass. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • You can get lightening usb storage for iphone. http://www.amazon.co.uk/KINGENERGYAE-Lightening-Memory-Storage-iPhon... Posted via the Windows Central app
  • Well, I can connect a f***ing DVD reader to my 8" Windows 8.1 tablet. I don't need any external power. And the best part? DVD drive is taken out from my laptop.
  • Let's not forget that Nokia did this a long time ago... Example the N8
  • Yup.. had that on my C7. It worked well with a card reader. Back then (2012-ish) I had a Nikon DSLR. I could take out the CF card, plug it into the card reader attached to the USB OTG cable...  The phone will detect the CF card, I could then email the picts (or upload to FB). It does make the phone hot though.
    Imagine the advantage in places and situations where your phone is the only way to go online          
  • What this amateurs don't know is that symbian was still way advanced then any other system out there right now. The only thing that kills it was the dung people...let's put it this way. 2007 and after. Usb on the go support, mouse and keyboard support, any usb flash, (2010 symbianAnna, external hardisck support. Yes, you hoed it good, 1 tb external, files playe! 2000 and before: True multitasking...2015 still has the lead. 1999, entire ui change capability with just a theme. 2015 only android can do it in a retarded way! 2004 support for internal had. 2010 full hdmi support (nokia n8, the only multimedia device ever!) 2012 full support for cameras so large 41 mpx is nothing. Yes, this is a system limitation that only symbian truly has no problem handling it with ease. Symbian wa a true mobile system, it's only downfall being the ferry now specks, but this kids should always give credit to a devices doing all of this with jusyt 256 mb ram, even less before it.
  • Symbian was is and always will be unusable POS.
  • @vhyr - After he listed the things it could do back on '07 you still call it unusable?
  • You said it all my friend. Thank you 110% agree with you If only i had enouph money .... i will rise Symbian again...
  • I also don't know why symbian was refused by nokia , it was way ahead of its time . and to tell you I am right now replying to your post using my nokia 500 fate running symbian belle as I use it as my daily driver , even after using it for last 5 years , its fast and fluid as it was in the beginning and I just can't think of losing it . I just love my symbian phone too much. well at the time I bought it it was a phone with 1 Ghz processor , and with only 256 mb ram , it really runs multitasking well.. it is all because symbian was based on C and if anyone here knows something about programming language than they should know that C language is most efficient in utilizing resources and not like android which is a resource hungry which hangs even on quad core processors with 2 gb of ram.... just can't stop praising enough of my symbian phone . I miss symbian so much, and it was good to hear that there are people who remember the symbian for how good it was . why won't someone start a kickstarter and collect some money from online funding and again relive the glory days of symbian..
  • Because with all things, it doesn't matter how good it is/was, no one was buying it. Everyone wanted an iPhone or Android phone.
  • Yes I used to the same thing! From my N8... HDMI out to big TV, USB OTG to HDD full of media. The Nokia media center app would open and I'd use my PS3 controller to browse the interface! All in 2010!!! I don't know if that's even possible with 2015 phones.
  • I will never understand the hate for Symbian... I remember an occasion where my N8 saved the day on a video shoot once... It was the only device we had with us capable of charging a gopro camera!
  • Because it's not always about what your device can do, it's about how easy it is for users to do it.
  • So by that logic, we shouldn't use manual cars because automatics exist?! It's a sign of the times though... The world is becoming ever more full of exorbitant, self entitled sheep who seem to be unable, or frightened, to think or research things for themselves.
    Edit: Just to clarify, I'm not aiming that at you, nor any one specific group of people.
  • It is possible with 2015 phones but we agree on one thing here...the n8 was an amazing device. Though my n900 was even more amazing. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yeah shame Symbian UIQ didn't take off - the Motorolla A1000 (& A9xx predecessors) were way before their time - loved mine at the time!
  • Haha... Yes exactly! Although I've supported windows phone since the Lumia 900.... I still feel the phones are not at par with my old N8. It's about time to finish playing catchup and come with something unique that sets u ahead and differentiates from the rest.
  • wow...so many people still miss symbian. I thought I am the only one left. Symbian was so complete OS, nothing else today feels as powerful, complete and customizable. Not even close. And WP especially feels so much crippled after being with Symbian for so many years. Why did MS not learnt a single thing about Symbian while purchasing Nokia. N8 still feels way better than any of the Lumias I used till date. Camera is better, bluetooth transfer is better, has mini HDMI, USB-OTG, and so many small yet handy features. It had OTG without any fancy type c connecter. One worth mentioning is FM transmitter. No phone in market yet has this feature. God, I miss symbian so much.
  • Psst Lumia 1520 has FM radio builtin :) PS - Symbian was amazing.
  • Android is on par but there was just something special about the n8 accomplishing it all on 256mb of RAM. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Looooove my N8 Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • So the..lol
  • Yeah, thought I had this on my old Nokia N8
  • I remember having and using my N8 to plug into a tv and show the screen, video clips, photos, internet browsing and all i needed was the use of the suppied mini HDMI cable !!! now at the same time was the first IPhone, which could'nt even connect to another phone using bluetooth !!  I had some very humble IPhone users that night after they spent a day bigging it up  !! 
  • I wish you had pictures of their faces. I really feel that Marketing, UI was the bane of Symbian at the end. Nokia were far ahead of their time.
  • Love my n8 Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • An iPhone that you plug into a dock and it becomes a Mac would be pretty cool. Hell, it may actually get decent dev support for OSX. Actually, Intel is rumored to power the next iPhone. If Apple gets the iPhone 7 out before the Surface Phone, they could actually beat Microsoft to having a true desktop in your pocket.
  • So they will release a phone that has iOS and OSX running on it? Unlikely. They don't have the benefit of the unified OS that Microsoft has, and they are also pretty adamant that phone, tablets and PCs should not converge.
  • But Apple alrady advetised that with iPad Pro one doesn't need (Macbook)PC any more.   
  • Doesn't mean anything. That tablet only runs iOS, so it's not replacing any Macbook. Not even close to what the Surface Pro is. Heck, even a regular Surface can run full Windows 10.
  • Yup, Ipad pro owners still need a PC with iTunes on it whenever a bad OS update bricks their devices.
  • Pretty sad. Their pro tablet needs another computer's helping hand. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I'm not sure why people think that iOS and OS X are so different. Much of the core is the same thing. Windows 10 being a unified OS is more marketing at this point. Apple's apps aren't completely Universal, but they have a lot in common.
  • No. iOS and OSX is vastly different. OSX in touch is bad whereas iOS with usb keyboard is worse. The core they share is same but most of the components are thrown out because of the devices they run on. If same core makes the OS easier to merge, ChromeOS and Android will merge faster than iOS and OSX.
  • Apple as we know about them, they still wont do it. When they do, that's actually a big threat to mobile efforts of Microsoft. Apple got a healthy developers support, it wont take long developers will publish apps that will take advantage new Apple SDK. That's a Microsoft nightmare and this is why there is no excuse for Microsoft to hold back. Chrome OS is already supporting to run some Android apps, that makes Chrome OS a proper desktop OS by having native apps, though it will not be a threat to Windows itself but its a threat for Universal Apps Platform of Microsoft.
  • The universal app strategy isn't just for desktop and phones. It is for many hardware that will be designed in the future. IOT, Hololens surface hub etc. Its good that android and chrome is sre merging but still wont serve the purpose of using it. Its just the cost factor driving to buy one a chrome book. Otherwise one wouldn't like to buy a chromebook as one doesn't like to buy a windows phone due to lack of things in it like apps.
  • In fact, iOS and MacOS are as unified as Windows 10. Only universal apps could be a differentiator, but who is really interested in those?
  • Yeah who is interested in having the same experience on all his devices? /s
  • We are but you have to realize that most people don't care...strange world. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • But not if they saddle it with iOS.
  • No way! Lmao. There's no way Apple makes a iOS+OSX on their next iPhone. If they were going to do that, the iPad Pro would have it. What about Apple's resistance to change makes you think they would do this to iOS now? Haha Posted via the Note 4/Nexus 7 (2013)/Lumia 1020/Lumia 2520
  • As others have said, it seems unlikely as they had an opportunity to do it with the iPad Pro, but they didn't, Unless they're working behind the scenes to bring both iOS and OSX together, then I don't think we will see it in their phones for a while.
  • IPhones have been able to screen mirror since the 4s using either Apple tv, hdmi cable or vga cable. This means they can do pretty much the same as continuum.
  • Continuum is not about streaming content to screen. It is about using the app you installed on your phone, which scales automatically to a tablet version just by connecting to a screen, keyboard and mouse. Simplest example is using alt+tab shortcut to switch between running apps if the phone is connected to a keyboard and monitor. Does command + tab work with iPhone in such a setup???
  • No, that's a silly thing to say. Can it act as a track pad while driving the monitor? No. Can it act as a phone while driving the monitor? No. Does it resize the app to run full screen on the monitor? No. Can it drive the monitor, mouse and keyboard wirelessly? No. I'm sorry if this offends your Apple sensibilities, but continuum is true innovation and neither Apple or Google are even close. In the same way as neither the iPad Pro or Chrome Pixel tablets are even close to a Surface in their capabilities, while costing very nearly as much. Microsoft aren't resting on thier laurels anymore, they're innovatingand even Windows isn't the awful experience it was.
  • Google could easily port some Linux desktop and have their apps run in windows. In fact, they won't do it because it is a ridiculously stupid idea.
  • My Apple sensibilities are not offended as I use all os's, Windows, Android and iOS. I am just saying that for the few occasions I need to connect my phones to a large screen, screen mirroring on ios, screen casting on android and miracasting on Windows, using a Bluetooth keyboard is good enough. Posted via the Windows Central app
  • Interesting view of the Apple ecosystem and the iPad Pro http://a.msn.com/r/2/BBneqN6?ocid=News
  • @Crosswhite17 - Might be good enough and only the customer can determine that.  But make no mistake, continuum is very much different as others have said.
  • In that it scales the app admittedly. However I can use Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the big screen using my iPad Mini, Apple TV and Bluetooth keyboard and print and scan with my wireless printer. This is as close to a desktop experience as I need from a portable device at the moment. At work the iPad has replaced the laptop as the main presentation tool by its ability to connect to TV's and projectors using Keynote or PowerPoint. Similarly I can use my Nexus 5 with keyboard and mouse to give a good desktop experience too. My Lumia 735 also gives quite a good desktop experience but is just let down by the built in office app, hopefully the upgrade to Windows 10 will come soon to improve this with the individual office apps.
  • IPhone is about simplicity. Their users don't want a desktop on their phone.
  • How about androids? Don't they have all these features already?
  • Yes, I've been plugging XBox controllers, a DAC, and OTG peripherals into my Android phones for a long time.
  • Taking my 5 devices to AT&T, gonna get 2 950's and a 950XL and save $40 U.S. a month because I add it to my DirecTV account. GOOD BYE VERIZON
  • Wow. I alrady used 3 year ago with Lumia 920 usb-to-micro-usb OTG adapter (and 32 gb usb-merory-stick) to connect Lumia with usb-drives etc, so Verbatim 32GB Nano USB Flash Drive with USB OTG Micro Adapter.
  • I own a Lumia 920 and I'm pretty sure that doesn't work.
  • I'm pretty sure that doesn't work because I own a lumia 920 Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Pretty sweet but I'm still waiting on the unlocked Lumia 950. If it ships by the 25th , why not accept preorders already???
  • Yes, cool! I will buy Lumia 950 XL : white ( free microsoft dock also ) on Launch event at New Delhi - got invitation today  Loved both the phone 
  • seems rich, I got invitation for Mumbai event, but doesn't have money to buy :P
  • I'll pass... For the price of a 950XL I can get new pipes for my Harley.....
    .....
    Better to invest in something I know will be around for the next 5 years... Lol.
  • In that case, don't buy any phone. In 5 years it will be old and nobody will want it. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I think he means the OS.
  • Lol true
  • I'm pretty sure you won't even using 950xl in 5yrs. Lol
  • Nah you should chop your slow, noisy Harley in for a proper bike... Go Triumph Rocket III. THEN you'll have a "real man's" bike that's to last you :)
  • You must have meant Triumph Rocket III. Yamaha does not manufacture the rockets. 
  • Thanks for the reminder- trying to be witty after being woken up by my 4 month old daughter at about 3.30am didn't work too well for me! I should know who made it as we have one lol!
  • Most people swop their phones every couple of years. Even if Microsoft stopped making phones your phone will still work so it is not that much of a risk is it? There are plenty of android users still running phones on Jellybean or earlier. Posted via the Windows Central app
  • Lol and you say the phones are overpriced and behind the times. Harley is as overpriced and under equipped as they come.
  • Well if you take pretty good care of your phone, it might last for five years. Lol Honestly, I'm still on the edge if I will hold off for Surface Phone or get 950xl soon.
  • And how much will you spend on maintenance and insurance fees for that bike over 5 years?
  • This great, seems to have at least as much funcationality as android, but has potential to do much more as well. Something like you mentioned, using an xbox controller would be amazing to play some games. We need to get this USB-C thing going faster now.
  • What about printers?
  • Can we print wirelessly with Windows 10 Mobile?
  • Yes!!
  • You could do that with 8.1.
  • Don't talk rubbish. In 8.1 it is only through third party app whereas in Win 10 it is inbuilt. Moreover one can also print to pdf in Win 10.
  • I'm also thinking about this too. Though there is a Wireless Printer support already, just needs more app to take advantage of it.
  • wow. thats so cool/useful!
  • USB microphones? Really?
    That sounds as though it would fall foul of the law of diminishing returns.
  • actually, there are some quality USB mics out there that are FAR better than the onboard mics. similar to what i see some tech bloggers doing now, plugging in their mics into a phone and using the phone to record an interview.
  • I think you'd be surprised. Posted via the Note 4/Nexus 7 (2013)/Lumia 1020/Lumia 2520
  • 'sauceum.
    Sucks about the Xbox controller support but I don't see that being very practical on the phone
  • You don't see how playing games with an XBox One controller could be practical? One picture at a time -- LG V10
  • I'd really love to be able to play with the Xbox controller on my phone. Just imagine, you had a hold for the controller where you could put your phone and use it like a handheld console. Also there would be no need for a MOGA gamepad (still didn't buy one because I don't see why, if I have 2 Xbox pads already). Xbox labeled game would make even more sense.
  • That would be amazing!! It would be like having a more ergonomic version of a Nintendo DS!!!
  • I wonder if the Xbox wireless adapter plugged in would allow the controller to work?
  • Its pointless right now just like moga never really caught on by the publishers to recode their wp games like they did with Android initially
  • They really need a Usb type c cable (and driver for 10 mobile) for the Xbox one controller and enable Xbox one streaming to the Xbox app like it does on the desktop version
  • Dead Trigger 2 with an XBox controller is the only way to play. It's also the only reason why I'm so far ahead in the game.
  • I left that game after completing 7-8 levels. It was becoming pain in da aass to earn a staggering large amount of money to unlock to level 10 and then unlock a new continent...pheww...
  • Its actually useful to have Xbox Controller support for W10M. With Continuum, they could make W10M compatible devices as a lite gaming machine making your phone acts like a console. It would be great if there is new SDk for games to take advantage Continuum by utilizing the phone screen as a controller like Nintendo DS and use the TV/Monitor as a gaming screen.
  • Provide feedback.....
  • brilliant!
  • Blue Yeti support. Wow! Talk about a mobile studio.
  • Too bad other phones don't seem to support it. Do you think that could be fixed with a firmware update?
  • It could be... But not likely... We gotta wait till official release of the OS for older phones...
  • No other Windows Phones on the market currently have what Microsoft has deemed as the minimum hardware requirements to use Continuum. So highly unlikely, sorry.
  • But that's because you need enough processing power to support the output to two different screens at a time, two apps at a time (if you are using an app on both the screen and the phone) plus the fact that Edge renders desktop websites in Continuum. USB OTG is independent of that.
  • Uau this is awesome, just ordered two usb type c adptors after seing this. It will be awesome to connect flash drives, CF cards (by the way Daniel can you please tell me if the lumia 950 can read raw files at all?) and external hard drives to my future the 950 XL.
  • Hmmm, time to start buying some USB-C flash drives! Wonder if you can get a drive with a different a connector on each end for also plugging the same  one into my SP3?
  • Sounds like a neat idea.
  • The SanDisk ones can but like most 1st gen c accessories their a fire hazard(read the reviews on amazon)
  • Nothin wrong with some fire...
  • "We don't need no water, let the mother f*$&er burn"
  • Winter is here. We could all use some free heat. Posted via the Note 4/Nexus 7 (2013)/Lumia 1020/Lumia 2520
  • Nice