No external microphone with micro USB?

It’s probably the most asked question I get: Why does action camera XY doesn’t allow the use of an external microphone? This question pops up for action cameras which have one thing in common: a micro USB port.

Action Cameras that feature mini USB (like SJCAM SJ6 & SJ7, GoPro Hero4, Firefly 8S,…) allow the use of an external microphone. Same as cameras with USB-C ports (like GoPro Hero5 & Hero6, YI 4K+,…). USB-C offers 24 pins, so there are enough pins for audio transmission.


micro USB vs mini USB

micro USB vs. mini USB

micro USB vs. mini USB


Basically mini USB and micro USB offer the same amount of pins: 5. But there are also 10 pin receptacle (ports). Although not officially being called “mini USB”, as this term is a defined standard, they have the same shape. Even tough they are proprietary connectors, marketing wise they are also called mini USB. These 10 pin “mini USB” ports can be found on Firefly 8S, Git2 or GoPro Hero4 and allow the use of an external microphone. Further more the port also allows video out.

Since the form factor of micro USB is smaller, there are no 10 pin micro USB receptacle (ports), hence no option for an external microphone as they all only offer 5 pins.

10 pin "mini USB"

10 pin “mini USB”


So why did so many manufacturers go for micro USB and gave up on using external microphone?

I think because of 2 reasons:

  • micro USB is more common. Most devices use micro USB and therefore you don’t have to keep in mind to take a mini USB cable with you to charge your action camera.
  • micro USB is more durable. It has a life cycle of at least 10.000 connects & disconnects whereas mini USB has a life cycle of at least 5.000 connects & disconnects.


Future Development

USB-C is getting more common and I think more action cams will go for this port in the future. So I guess it’s a matter of time until more cameras see this port and will allow the use of an external microphone. Then again I haven’t seen a mic with USB-C port so far (comparable to many mics using a mini USB plug); more common is the use of an adapter from USB-C to 3,5mm jack (compare with YI 4K+ and GoPro Hero6 / 5)

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