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The HDMI standard has established itself as a mainstay of the post-HD digital age. While new versions have arrived and speeds have increased, the connectors have remained the same since their initial introduction.

So what is the difference between Standard HDMI, Mini HDMI and Micro HDMI?

What is HDMI?

To understand the different varieties of HDMI cables in use, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what HDMI is. HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. It is a digital standard designed to transport video and audio from a source (such as a Blu-Ray player or game console) to a screen or recorder.

One standard HDMI connector
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HDMI has undergone several iterations, each of which increases bandwidth performance to allow for higher resolutions and higher frame rates. The latest standard is HDMI 2.1 , which allows a total throughput of 48 Gbps or enough bandwidth for an uncompressed 12-bit 4K HDR signal at 120 Hz.

Regardless of whether you’re using full HDMI (aka Type-A) or a smaller variant, the standard uses 19 pins to carry various signals, including video and audio, clocks to keep things in sync, 5V of power, and even data from Ethernet.

A standard HDMI type A cable Like the one you’ll find on the back of your TV or a game console, it uses a relatively large 14 x 4.55mm connector that can only be inserted one way.

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What is Mini HDMI?

Mini HDMI, also known as Type-C, is a smaller version of the digital interface. The connector measures only 10.42 x 2.42mm and features 19 pins as well, although the layout is slightly different from the larger Type-A connector. It is not uncommon to find HDMI cables with a Type-A and Mini HDMI (Type-C) connector .

One mini HDMI connector
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While there is plenty of room for the interface on larger devices like game consoles and televisions, smaller devices often need to save space. This is where Mini HDMI comes in, providing all the benefits of the HDMI interface in a much smaller form factor.

The most common devices that use Mini HDMI are digital cameras and camcorders. Some laptops also use the smaller form factor, as do some smaller computers like the Raspberry Pi Zero .

What is Micro HDMI?

Micro HDMI, also known as Type-D, reduces the interface to an even greater degree. The connector measures only 6.4 x 2.8mm, but all 19 pins are present (although the layout is different from the standard and Mini connectors). Micro HDMI is less prevalent than the other two variants and has fallen by the wayside in recent years.

One micro HDMI connector
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Some Android phones like Motorola Droid X, HTC One VX, Samsung Galaxy Note II and LG Optimus G use these connectors . If this all sounds old to you, you’re right. Most Android phones now use the more ubiquitous USB-C connection, many of which can support HDMI output using a USB-C to HDMI adapter.

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Arguably the most common devices still using Micro HDMI are GoPro action cameras. GoPro Hero 4, Hero 5 Black, Hero 6 Black, and Hero 7 Black have Micro HDMI ports, while Hero 8 Black and Hero 9 Black action cameras still use Micro HDMI with Media Mod (sold separately).

HDMI is here to stay (for now)

The beauty of HDMI is how each new iteration maintains backward compatibility. You can take an HDMI connection from an old laptop or Xbox 360 console and display it smoothly on a new 8K TV .

Compare this to older analog standards that often require intermediary devices to convert SCART, component, S-video, or similar connections to HDMI-ready digital. Without such an interface, it is difficult to display older consoles and computers on a modern television.

Xbox Series X consoles

The latest HDMI 2.1 standard is fairly new, with early source devices such as Xbox series x , PlayStation 5 and NVIDIA 30 series graphics cards coming in 2020. While standards are constantly advancing, HDMI 2.1 provides more than enough bandwidth for the foreseeable future.

HDMI 2.1 supports 10K 120Hz streams with screen stream compression, Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) for soundbars and home theater receivers, audio formats like Dolby Atmos, and gaming features like Frequency Technology native variable update (VRR).

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The Type A connector is ubiquitous and cables are easy to come by. If HDMI were to be replaced, USB-C would probably be a prime candidate. HDMI over USB-C is now possible, although HDCP 2.2 support is currently limited to HDMI.

Ultra high speed HDMI

The only other technology that could unseat HDMI is some kind of wireless standard. While wireless display technology is useful for portable devices (and technologies such as Airplay already enabled), wireless technologies are notoriously vulnerable to interference. So it makes little sense for static devices like game consoles or Blu-Ray players to use a wireless connection, even if it reduces cable clutter.

Buying and Using the Right HDMI Cables

If you need to use a Mini or Micro HDMI cable (Type-C and Type-D), your device probably came with one. Since most of these devices are limited to 4K and below (even 60Hz), there is no need to worry about HDMI 2.1 in these cases.

If you are buying an HDMI 2.1 cable, you can use a mobile app to verify that your cables have passed certification . New consoles like Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 will come with HDMI 2.1 cables and replacing them with aftermarket alternatives will not produce an improvement in picture quality.

In fact, we recommend avoiding “premium” HDMI cables entirely . While these promise superior shielding and high data throughput, they are no better than cheap cables.

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