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I hesitate to ask this on the EE site because it's not really an EE question. I'm more interested in the mechanical forces that keep an USB plug from slipping out of the socket.

I am asking because of the common issue of USB-c plugs becoming loose over time, compared to USB-a plugs which do not seem to have this issue. I wonder what is reason behind this. Is the mechanical structure of a USB-c plug considerably different than a USB-a?

Also, last time I went to have mt phone checked up, I was told that the "sensor" of my phone is misaligned, hence why my plug keeps falling out. I don't understand what the "sensor" being referred to was, nor can I find it on the typical USB-c pin layout. Some explanations on this would be much appreciated.

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  • $\begingroup$ What is the make and model of the phone? $\endgroup$ – Mahendra Gunawardena Feb 12 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ @MahendraGunawardena pixel 2 $\endgroup$ – PeaBrane Feb 12 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ If it's falling out even with a new cable, by far the most likely problem is fluff in the port preventing it being plugged all the way in - have you tried to clean it out? $\endgroup$ – Jonathan R Swift Feb 12 at 23:15
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CORRECTION per @Jonathan R Swift -- The "USB C" is held by the spring tabs inside the plu, on the narrow sides. photo

I dealt with a similar issue in a low-volume-manufactured device with pcb-mount "mini-B" generation USB sockets and plugs. There was not enough interference fit between the panel-mount socket and the plug of the cheap panel-mount extension cable that went into it, leading to intermittently flaky connection. The solution was to very gently squeeze the sockets with a pair of pliers, to increase the mechanical interference.

On a phone, it might be possible to gently pry apart the faces of the plug instead, but before doing this, check for is that there isn't dirt or debris in there that prevents the plug from going all the way in and mechanically latching. -- UPDATE not for USB-C


This question inspired me to fix my own phone plug (microUSB), and the problems (failure to mechanically latch and the intermittent connection) seemed both caused by debris.

!! Remove battery before poking around !!

My micro-B socket had an astonishing amount of pocket lint, seemingly multiple times the volume of the space into which it was packed. Cleaned it out with a combination of a small safety pin, a piece of index card material cut to ~1.5mm width (to sweep out the clearance below the "tab", which is too narrow for the safety pin diameter), and ultra fine point tweezers.

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    $\begingroup$ USBC has the little springy clips on the inside, at the edges, in contrast to the outside on the flat face for mini B. Sadly, therefore, it's not an option to squish the port myfixguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/… $\endgroup$ – Jonathan R Swift Feb 12 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ @JonathanRSwift are the "springy things" in the plug or the socket? Are they separated from the pins? In my case, I do hear a mechanical "click" sound when I plug in, but the connection inside still appears intermittent, because my charging icon turns on and off when I slightly shake my phone. $\endgroup$ – PeaBrane Feb 12 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ They are on the inside of the plug - you can see them in the photo I linked! $\endgroup$ – Jonathan R Swift Feb 12 at 23:09

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