Using my Desktop USB Keyboard with my Android Phone

There’s this standard, which seems mostly ignored by mostly everyone, called USB On-The-Go, that allows mobile phones and tablets to connect to USB peripherals like flash drives, keyboards and mice.

It turns out that my Moto G7 Play Android phone has support for this standard. I bought a UGREEN USB C OTG Cable Adapter from Amazon1 for $8.99 to try this out. And it worked!

Here’s a little video of me using my Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard with my phone: I plugged the keyboard’s wireless dongle into the OTG cable, the OTG cable into the USB C port on the phone, opened up my email client, and started typing. The phone automatically recognized the keyboard; I didn’t need to configure it or set anything up.

I also tried the OTG cable with my Apple Mighty Mouse, and with a USB flash drive, and both worked as expected.

I hate typing on the tiny glass keyboard of my phone, so this is a good way for me to try out the idea of getting a Bluetooth portable keyboard to allow for typing-on-the-road.

I’m also interested in seeing whether I could plug the OTG cable (likely with a male-to-male USB A adapter) into one of the scanning-photocopiers at Robertson Library and thus gain the ability to “scan to my phone.”

1. Not an affiliate link.


Oliver B's picture
Oliver B on July 18, 2019 - 06:01 Permalink

After I thought "neato", it occurred to me this link happens automagically and with no dongles between iPhones and those little bluetooth keyboards. Is your keyboard of choice unable to speak the same Bluetooth dialect as your phone? Does your phone not have Bluetooth built-in at all? Just curious

Peter Rukavina's picture
Peter Rukavina on July 18, 2019 - 08:41 Permalink

For reasons I’ve never understood, the Microsoft Sculpt, otherwise an excellent product, uses a proprietary radio scheme (hence the dongle) rather than Bluetooth.