Does Android use MTP?

What is MTP?

MTP stands for Media Transfer Protocol. It’s a protocol for transferring media files between devices. As stated by PCMag in their encyclopedia entry, MTP is “a Microsoft enhancement to the Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP), starting with Windows Media Player 10 in Windows XP.”

The main purpose of MTP is to allow the transfer of media files and associated metadata between devices. This includes files like photos, videos, and music, along with information like timestamps, ratings, and playlists. MTP builds on the earlier PTP protocol by adding capabilities like the ability to move files between devices and manage them in more complex ways.

Why MTP is Used

MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) is used primarily to allow the transfer of media files like photos, videos, and music between devices. Unlike old USB mass storage modes, MTP is capable of abstracting the filesystem of the device so that transfers can work between devices with different filesystems. Devices with internal memory instead of external SD cards shifted towards using MTP since it is more robust for accessing internal storage. According to “USB Connections: MTP, PTP and USB Mass Storage” MTP functions similar to USB mass storage in allowing file browsing and transfers but works better for modern devices.

Android’s Use of MTP

Android has used MTP for file transfers since Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), which was released in 2011. MTP replaced the previous USB mass storage mode that was commonly used for file transfers before Honeycomb.

The switch to MTP was necessary due to changes in how internal storage is configured on modern Android devices. Starting with Honeycomb, Android began using partitioned internal storage rather than storing all files in a single partition. This allowed for better security and management of different types of data, but it meant the old mass storage mode no longer worked properly.

MTP allows the user to access and transfer files on partitioned internal storage through a special protocol. When connected to a computer via USB, the Android device will show up as a portable device rather than a typical mass storage drive. Special software on the computer translates MTP communications to enable file transfers between the devices.

Overall, Android’s adoption of MTP allowed Android to evolve its internal storage design while still providing an accessible way for users to transfer files between their device and a computer. It replaced mass storage as the standard USB connection mode beginning with Honeycomb and all later versions of Android.

Advantages of MTP

One of the key advantages of MTP is that it supports a wide range of file types beyond just images and documents. MTP can transfer audio, video, and other multimedia files between devices. This makes it very versatile for sharing different kinds of media files.

Another benefit of MTP is that it maintains metadata of files during transfers. Information like playlists, ratings, playback counts, and more remain intact when files are moved between devices via MTP. This helps preserve the full experience around multimedia content.

MTP also enables simultaneous data transfer and device charging. When connecting a mobile device to a computer via MTP, the mobile device can charge over the same USB connection used for file transfers. This is convenient compared to USB mass storage which only allows either charging or data transfer at a time.

Overall, these advantages of maintaining metadata, supporting diverse file types, and allowing simultaneous charging make MTP a very capable and convenient protocol (Medicaid Transformation Project amendment request).

Disadvantages of MTP

While MTP offers some advantages, it also has some drawbacks compared to other transfer protocols like USB mass storage. Some of the main disadvantages of MTP include:

Slower transfer speeds than USB mass storage – Due to the protocol overhead, MTP can be significantly slower than USB mass storage for transferring files between devices. According to one analysis, MTP achieved transfer speeds less than half as fast as USB mass storage in a head-to-head comparison (

Requires MTP support on computer side – For MTP to work properly, the host computer needs to have software support for the protocol. Some older operating systems lack native MTP capability. This can cause connectivity issues or require installing additional drivers (

Can be finicky with some devices – There have been reports of MTP being temperamental or not working well with certain device combinations, requiring troubleshooting to transfer files. Factors like OS version, driver issues, or hardware bugs can disrupt the MTP connection.

Alternatives to MTP

Although MTP is commonly used for file transfers between Android devices and computers, there are some alternatives that can be used in certain cases:

USB mass storage can still be used for file transfers in some older Android devices that do not support MTP. With USB mass storage, the device’s storage is mounted directly as a drive on the computer for drag-and-drop file management. However, USB mass storage has limitations and is not as widely compatible with newer Android versions [1].

Bluetooth can be used for wireless file transfers between Android devices and computers or other devices that support Bluetooth. The transfer speeds may be slower compared to MTP, but Bluetooth works for sharing files and folders without physically connecting the devices.

Cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive allow files to be accessed from Android devices as well as computers and other devices. Files can be uploaded from the Android device to the cloud and then accessed from a computer, which serves as an alternative to direct wired file transfers.[2]

While MTP is the standard protocol for managing files on Android, these alternatives provide some options in cases where MTP is not ideal or available.

Compatibility with computers

MTP has broad compatibility with computers, but the level of built-in support varies by operating system:

Windows has native support for MTP. Windows XP and later versions include MTP drivers if Windows Media Player 10 or newer is installed. Windows Vista and all later versions have MTP support built into the operating system without needing additional software.1

Mac OS and Linux do not include built-in MTP support, so additional software is required. For Mac, Android File Transfer app can enable MTP connectivity. On Linux, libraries like libmtp can add MTP capabilities.2 So while Windows offers plug-and-play MTP support, Mac and Linux users need to install additional MTP software to get full compatibility.

Connection protocols

The primary connection protocol used by Android for MTP file transfer is USB. When an Android device is connected to a computer via USB, the default setting is often to use MTP for file transfers.

As noted in this Wikipedia article on MTP and this brief on MTP file transmission, the MTP protocol utilizes the USB connector and USB communication protocol to enable media file transfers between devices.

While USB is the main method, MTP file transfer over WiFi is also possible utilizing DLNA or similar network communication protocols. This allows wireless transfer of media files between an Android device and another networked media device or computer.

Future of MTP

Evidence suggests that MTP will likely continue to be the default data transfer protocol used in Android devices into the foreseeable future, though changes may come eventually. As this source indicates, MTP has proven itself as a reliable solution for connecting Android phones and other devices with computers. Its flexibility for transferring media has made it the go-to option on most Android devices, and that status is unlikely to change.

However, some experts predict MTP may eventually be replaced by newer or more efficient protocols if developers come up with better alternatives. Any threats to MTP’s dominance remain speculative for now. But given the fast pace of innovation in the mobile technology industry, developers may someday design a superior method of transferring files between devices.


MTP (Media Transfer Protocol) has served as the primary way for Android devices to transfer files and media since Android 3.0. It replaced the older USB mass storage system used in earlier versions of Android.

MTP enables modern options like transferring media files while they are still being accessed and viewed on the Android device itself. However, MTP can sometimes be less compatible or convenient than standard USB mass storage when connecting to certain computers and operating systems.

Overall, MTP strikes a balance of allowing improved media workflows while maintaining device integrity and stability. Unless a radically new protocol gets adopted across the tech industry, MTP will likely continue to be the central file transfer system for Android phones and tablets into the future.

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