I need to talk to you about an important issue, and one that you will probably have to face sooner or later: the micro-USB port on your phone, e-reader, or other device going bad.
I’ve experienced a rash of these port failures lately. My Nexus 6 had it fail (twice!), my Karma Go hotspot did, my old first-gen Moto X smartphone has as well, and now the port on my 7″ Fire is showing signs of going.
The problem is that the Micro USB port is pretty badly designed. It’s pretty easy to bend it out of true just by plugging the cable in wrong, or accidentally putting pressure on the plug. Possibly the asymmetrical nature of the plug, in which it’s easy to bend in one direction, has to do with the issue. The ports can be replaced, but it’s a fairly expensive process, and for some devices (such as my 7″ fire) it may not even be worth it. When I talked to the technician who runs the cell phone repair shop I use, he told me he’d had to replace many broken micro-USB ports.
But he hadn’t had to replace a single USB-C port yet. The USB-C is the symmetrical plug the replaced the micro-USB on the Nexus 9P and newer phones, including my Moto X4. USB-C might be a bad design from the standpoint of certain compatibility issues—ZDNet calls it a “dumpster fire”—but it doesn’t seem to have the same kind of problem standing up to physical wear and abuse.
If you want to try to keep the Micro USB port on your device working as long as possible, here’s some advice:
Don’t use it while plugged into a cable. Just don’t. I know, if you’ve almost used up the battery and want to keep going, it’s tempting to plug in a battery pack and keep on trucking, but if you’re doing this while you’re holding it in your hands or with it stuffed in a pocket, it’s a bad idea. Anything that puts pressure on the plug/cable connection, even the weight of the cable itself, can contribute to damaging that port. But you can disregard this if you’re putting the phone or tablet in a stand and keeping it steady while the cable is plugged in.
Don’t use bent or loose cables. If your cable fits badly and has room to wiggle around, it probably will wiggle around, and could damage the plug while it does so. Best to stick with cables that are fairly new, or at least in good condition.
Try to minimize unplugging/replugging. The more often it’s plugged, the sooner it will wear out (and the more chance you have of bending the connector). Of course, this holds true for any connector, including the earphone jack.
Sooner or later, every phone and tablet maker will surely switch over to USB-C, and that time can’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned. I’m a little surprised Amazon hasn’t yet made that change with its Fire tablets.