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I've been given a work task that requires to establish a connection between external usb device plugged into an android device, however, I cannot seem to find any tablets that are able to perform this. I made the task prototype with my own android phone that does support the said feature, however when the task is to be transferred over to a tablet device, I get stuck. We've tried literally 4 tablets that we've available at the office and none of them seem to support the listing of external usb devices which will make the prototype testing on such impossible. So my question to anyone who reads this is, do you know any tablets with android operating system that would support external usb devices like external nfc reader? And if you do, could you please list one here?

Any help is appreciated a lot!

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    How are you connecting the USB storage device to the tablet? What kind of USB ports did they have? What model(s) were they? What you have already might work and could need a specific kind of USB adapter - or maybe we really do need to recommend a tablet. Depending on your answers.
    – Romen
    Oct 31, 2023 at 13:55
  • What version of android do each of these devices have? In a number of cases, it usually more version dependent. Your phone could be v13, but some random tablets you found laying around are more likely to have a much old version.
    – cybernard
    Oct 31, 2023 at 15:46
  • Is it android required? What about Windows? Surface Go? Oct 31, 2023 at 20:31
  • It has been a topic with our team that windows could've been fine too, but we prioritize android so that is what we're going for in the first place.. To be honest, this whole project with external NFC reader communication with android systems is not the everyday thing we're used to working on. This stackoverflow post (stackoverflow.com/questions/13651025/…) suggested that we would need an android tablet with "FULL USB API" support, but I can't seem to find any tablets with the described feature. Does anyone of you know one?
    – Eetu
    Nov 1, 2023 at 9:52
  • Hi Eetu, can you provide more details about the NFC reader you're using? Also, is there a reason you don't want to use the builtin NFC reader on your tablet/phone?
    – JMY1000
    Nov 1, 2023 at 14:59

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I'd try the Google Pixel Tablet - $399

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  • First-party Android support
  • Not horribly expensive (although not cheap)
  • Included stand with charging/speaker (nice for a static office environment) that leaves the USB-C port free, so no additional dongles would be required for the NFC card reader

So as you've discovered, USB host mode support for Android devices can be hit or miss. Worse still, there's almost a total lack of any sort of comprehensive list as to which tablets actually support USB host mode. So far, the most reliable complete I've been able to find is actually the Square Device Compatibility site and Devices with Known Issues list; the Square Reader (1st generation) is a USB NFC reader and thus relies on the same feature set that you're looking for.

While it is possible to enable USB host API support on basically any device by adding the appropriate XML file to the right directory, this can require rooting on certain devices and is a bit of a pain—especially for larger deployments.

While I haven't been able to confirm that the Google Pixel Tablet specifically supports USB host mode, it appears that all Google Pixel phones support USB host mode. Thus, I'd assume that the Pixel Tablet also does.

For security reasons, many Android flavors disable this functionality by default—including the versions that have shipped with most Pixel devices. You may need to enable USB host mode in the settings; here are some instructions for common device brands:

  • Samsung Galaxy Devices: Go to "Settings" > "Connections" > "USB Accessories" and enable "USB OTG."
  • Huawei Devices: Go to "Settings" > "Advanced settings" > "OTG connection" and enable it.
  • Google Pixel Devices: Go to "Settings" > "Connected devices" > "USB Accessories" and enable "Use USB Accessories."

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