​How to connect flash drives, hard drives, keyboards and mice to the Samsung Galaxy S III using USB host

Here's a lesser-known feature of the new Galaxy S III -- the ability to connect all manner of USB peripherals to Samsung's latest flagship phone, from mass storage to input devices. You'll need a USB OTG (on-the-go) cable to be able to connect all this stuff into the Galaxy S III or any other USB host-supporting phone.

Like the Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note before it, the S III supports full USB host capabilities, meaning if you've got the right connector you can go completely nuts and plug all sorts of stuff into the phone. In our video, we tried USB memory sticks, full-sized SD card readers, USB hubs, hard drives, keyboards and mice. All of them worked. At one point we even had a hub plugged into the S III, allowing keyboard and mouse support simultaneously.

While we don't imagine many people will be using this feature every day, it's certainly impressive to see a smartphone able to handle such a wide range of USB gadgets, including full-sized desktop peripherals. Check out our video demo of USB host on the Samsung Galaxy S III above, and be sure to share your own experiences down in the comments if you've tinkered with this sort of thing yourself.

 
There are 33 comments

It would be very nice if there was one connector which would allow you to use the MHL and USB host capabilities simultaneously, so you could plug the phone in on your desk and use it with your desktop monitor via HDMI, keyboard, mouse, and USB storage.

Suntan says:

Yep.

The only time I'd really want to hook a lot of these things onto the phone is when I also have it hooked to a larger screen... ...this kind of defeats the purpose.

-Suntan

Deaconclgi says:

I've been doing that for almost 2 years with my N8. It has a dedicated mini HDMI port, a separate Micro USB
OTG port and a separate additional charging port. With separate ports, I can do exactly as you mentioned. I have used my N8 like a mini computer a few times, to my HDTV.

I need to get the OTG cable for my android devices as the one that came with the N8 is proprietary.

Has the T-Mobile One S been updated to use OTG? I have a One S but I have heard conflicting reports and I don't have a OTG cable to test it.

OVMorat says:

If you really need this for something, the Motorola Xoom2 ME has both USB OTG via a micro USB socket and a separate MicroHDMI output. OK, you might not want to buy a whole new tablet for this, but if you need it for work or something this might help.

impulse101 says:

This works exactly the same with the Galaxy Nexus too correct?

Alex Dobie says:

Kinda. USB host is really, really janky on the Gnex. Mass storage doesn't work without root.

thatkidnamd5 says:

Is this for the international version?

digmys says:

FWIW, this is an ICS feature, not a Samsung GS3 feature. I've been using this on my Xoom since it got ICS and on my Evo 4G LTE since I got it.

Uncle Louie says:

It must also depend on the kernel...I have ICS on my SII, but it doesn't have this capability.

Impulses says:

Spreading misinformation is not nice. USB OTG does NOT work out of the box on most HTC devices without a custom kernel, and there's no custom kernels with this feature for the EVO LTE yet... The international One X has been out longer (even tho the source for the kennel took a while) and they're still working on it over there... Just because it's built into ICS's source doesn't mean it's available on every device running ICS. I own an EVO LTE, I'd love to have USB OTG support, but it's not there yet. I think there's a difference between host mode and OTG support too, where the latter means you can power low voltage devices (think flash drive) whereas the former means you'll always have to use a powered hub to get anything recognized over USB. We may only get the former working thru custom kernels, nothing's guaranteed.

nighthawk700 says:

Hmmm, could you connect a GPS to the S3 and download information to it? (when I hook the GPS to my computer it goes into a mode where it looks like external memory). This could be really convenient for geocachers on the go!

And yes, I know the S3 has a GPS in it, but I wouldn't want to be holding the S3 when going through rough woods, crossing streams, etc.

CeluGeek says:

What about a USB game pad?

Suntan says:

Yup.

NZTechfreak already showed a video of it running off a PS3 controller plugged in via USB cable in the forums.

-Suntan

Hand_O_Death says:

And NOW I am already jealous of my wife's preordered phone.

jeffreii says:

I'm surprised the phone can power a portable USB hard drive. Impressive.

jeffreii says:

BTW I don't even have my S3 yet but just ordered two of those cables from Meritline for $1.50 each:
http://www.meritline.com/micro-usb-type-b-male-to-usb-a-female-cable-bla...

icebike says:

You over paid.

There is an even more smaller version on Amazon.

CoryBantic says:

Thank God Sprint's S3 comes with Dropbox! Flash drive, you are obsolete!

trivor says:

Actually not. With tiered data there may be a lot of times when you won't want to use the cloud. Also, it's nice to know if you're out and around and want/need to transfer something to a desktop or laptop (not your own, of course) that you could use a USB flash drive (you may not want to pull out your micro SD and the other computer may not have a flash reader).

c4v3man says:

Well, he did say Sprint, which means no tiered data. Still, my flash drive is a heck of a lot faster than Sprint's network...

athensjohn says:

Can you use the phone for a presentation? Can the phone be connected to a projector or screen and is there an office type presentation program that would allow this to function similar to a laptop running PowerPoint?

mrayth says:

You use the hdmi adaptor, and then a short hdmi VGA cable and you're good to go.

CheddarBo says:

I use the USB host feature quite often on my motorola xoom. Specifically for playing games with a corded xbox 360 controller. It's awesome for GTA III !!!

icebike says:

So this cable that was needed.... Was it something unique or just the standard USB micro Male to USB standard Female?


Like this, or something expensive from Samsung?

Suntan says:

That's the one I just ordered about 4 hours ago.

I'll let you know if it works in about a month. ;)

-Suntan

dhedwards says:

Got my adapter (£3 from eBay) and not only does it work with USB sticks, but it will connect to both my digicams (Panasonic FX500 and Pentax K-5), so I'll be able to back up photos away from home. I am very pleased. Thanks!

NZtechfreak says:

Well if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then I guess I need to say "Thank you, Androidcentral!".

Naturally this has better production values than my own effort, content wise though this one is very incomplete.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46IiRyigUH0

Any idea how this would work hooked up to a camera? I was vacationing recently and it would have been really nice to be able to download photos off the camera to my phone or tablet.

Barton82 says:

Just checked that with my Canon S90. Took me some time to find a mini USB cable, haven't used it for years, I take out the card to copy stuff from the camera. Anyway, no problem, the phone launches the gallery automatically and shows all photos from the camera (1498 of them in my case) as a separate album. I don't see any videos though.

NZtechfreak says:

I tried with my Panasonic Lumix FZ-100 and when connected via USB OTG it shows up as a drive on my S3, can copy pictures from it (video a no go, as per the other poster).

kangi26 says:

I'll be excited to connect it to my Nikon D700!! :D
I'd be willing to be I can use the phone's GPS to geo-tag photos

hi kangi26
can i know how u connect d700 to s3..i try with my d700 but the s3 cant detect the photo..can u help me.. tq

Has anyone managed to use a StarTech.com USB to VGA adaptor with this?