Connecting your Smartphone to your Computer

Connecting Smart-phones to Computers

For many people, their smart-phone is largely replacing their computer, especially when they are away from the office. As smart-phone capacity has increased, offering more and more capability, the use of a smart-phone as a substitute for a laptop has become commonplace.

Even so, the smart-phone isn’t likely to totally replace most people’s laptop or desktop computer. While they are great for use on the road, smart-phones don’t have all the capacity of a personal computer. The lack of ability to type quickly and effectively on them reduces their functionality for things like writing reports and data entry. Even the best of smart-phones are limited in their capability for serious applications, such as graphics design software, word processing and spreadsheets.

One of the limitations for those who use their smart-phone is being able to connect their phone to their computer, in order to transfer files, photos, contact information and notes. While early smart-phones and earlier versions of Windows were limited in their capability to do this, modern smart-phones can readily connect to your Windows computer for file transfer and equalization.


Smart-phone Connections

Smart-phones have a USB Mini-B or Micro-B connection on them, for connection to a computer’s USB port. The exception to this is the iPhone, which uses the iPhone Dock-Aux connection.

To connect the smart-phone to a computer, all that is needed is a cable with the USB Type A connector on one end and the appropriate connector for the phone on the other end. The chart below shows the difference between these different connectors. For the USB Mini-B and Micro-B, we’ve used drawings, to make the difference more obvious. This would not be as visible with photos.


USB A type connector

USB Mini B Connector

USB Micro B connector

iPhone ipod ipad original Dock connector

iphone, ipod ipad new Lightening connector

USB Type A

USB Mini B

USB Micro B

iPhone Dock

iPhone Lightning

This takes care of the physical connection of a smart-phone to the computer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can communicate with one another. Windows will attempt to treat the phone as if it were a new accessory connected to the USB port, finding the necessary driver to make it possible to communicate with it. However, this is not what is needed.


Install the Driver

All smart-phone manufacturers have drivers for their products, allowing them to communicate with computers. While the computer may find the appropriate driver on its own, it is possible that it won’t. In those cases, it will be necessary to download the driver from the phone manufacturer’s or cell phone service provider’s website.

The desktop software should be installed with the phone disconnected. Once installed, the smart-phone can be connected, using the cables mentioned above. This will allow the computer to fully communicate with the smart-phone.

Most desktop software will allow the transfer of files, backup of the data from the smart-phone, backup of your phone book and backup of apps onto your computer. There is usually a “synchronize” function, which allows data to be backed up as a one step operation. This provides security, in case the smart-phone is lost or broken.


Rich Murphy