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Tethering USB Flash Drive and Memory Card Reader to the Samsung Galaxy S III

I own an Apple iPad 2 for more than a year before I picked up a Samsung Galaxy S III which is to say, quite recent. As most of you know by now, the iPad offers very limited functionality when it comes to interacting with external devices. Using a Camera Connection Kit, you can hook up an externally powered digital camera to download images and videos. That’s pretty much it as far as how the iPad adds value to my photography business besides the obvious — a good digital album. For more than a year I had hope there would some way the iPad could be more useful – perhaps satisfy my need or the needs of every other professional photographers for it to to double as an external viewing monitor when tethered to my Canon EOS 5D Mark II. The days, months trickled by with absolutely no promise of this to happen. There are a number of wireless tethering methods that either involved costly equipment investment or when it’s affordable such as the Eye-Fi way, it’s often unreliable. Tethering via USB cable is the only way I know that’s reliable and fast as I often do in my shoots.

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This short USB On-The-Go (OTG) adapter is what makes tethering on the Samsung Galaxy S III possible.

Motivated by my repeated disappointment of the iPad, I look at the possibility at a competing platform — Android on the Samsung Galaxy S III — and it didn’t take long to see the light. With a micro USB male to female On-The-Go adapter cable, I discovered much to my delight that the S III has no problem accessing the contents of my, wait for it, 64GB SanDisk. Yes that’s a pretty big flash drive and I was under the impression that the bigger the capacity the least likely it’ll work. Never have I been this enthusiastic to be proven wrong!

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The Samsung Galaxy S III easily reads the content of the SanDisk Ultra 64GB. The drive contains 16GB of high resolution 5D Mark II JPEGs on the drive (that’s 8766 images from my Singapore assignment stored in 54 folders).

Not content with this discovery, I went further and plugged in an Apacer memory card reader with one 16GB SD and a 16GB Compact Flash card inserted. This is like attempting to power two flash drives and it worked flawlessly evidenced in the picture below identified as UsbDriveA and UsbDrive B. Pretty incredible if you ask me — a night and day comparison between the iPad and the S3 when it comes to freedom of choice.

I bought this Apacer God knows how many in one memory card adapter some years back when I needed one that supports Extreme media card speeds. It’s incredible how this actually works on the S III.

13 thoughts on “Tethering USB Flash Drive and Memory Card Reader to the Samsung Galaxy S III

  1. Hello Jan, I stumbled across your blog as I was searching for a USB tethering option for my new Galaxy S3 and I’m was pleased to read your observations of the S3. I would love to hear where you acquired your OTG adapter cable (if you are willing to share this?).

    I have been reading that Samsung changed from a 5-pin to 11-pin configuration on their S3 to provide greater functionality so many of the “older” micro to USB & micro to HDMI adapters do not work with the S3. I am attempting to locate an updated adapter that can be shipped to the United States.
    Many thanks in advance…

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    1. As it turned out, OTG cables are fairly common accessory items you can find in shops that carry mobile phones and accessories, and I don’t think the one I have was designed particularly for the S3’s improved functionality. While there are many online stores that carry such items, I do suggest you buy it in a walk-in store so you can ensure compatibility.

      On a side note, I read somewhere that the OTG adapter is supposed to be compatible with the Galaxy S2 too but I got a friend to plug it into his S2 and it didn’t work. Either compatibility is spotty or you can’t believe everything you read on the web.

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      1. Thanks for your insight Jan. Yes, I had seen several options available along with related comments/reviews from S3 users indicating they didn’t work. Perhaps compatibility is more dependent upon how the card has been formatted vs the cable itself? At any rate, I will take your recommendation and stroll into a few local phone support stores and see what I find. Thanks again! Cheers!

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  2. Thanks for the info. Can you give more detail on the memory card reader you are using? I just purchased an all in one card reader and an on the go USB cable off of ebay. I paid less than 10 dollars for both and they both seem to work very well on the PC. However, the card reader does not seem compatible with the S3. This is partyly my fault because the ad said mentioned PC system requirements (e.g., XP, Win7, etc.). I was able to tether to a PNY USB memory stick without any issues and breezed through many word, xls, and txt documents.

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  3. Hi. Did you ever try to use a “female-to-female” adapter to connect these devices thru the provided usb cables?
    Something like this:

    [Camera] [miniUSB-USB] [Female-to-Female-USB-adapter] [USB-microUSB] [Android Galaxy]

    Because I tried to do that (while I’m waiting for my OTG cable to arrive) and didn’t work….
    Thanks!

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