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How to connect devices to your TV

How to connect your smartphone or tablet to your TV

By Martin Pratt

Article 2 of 6

Our smartphones and tablets hold photos, videos, music and more, but the small screen isn't always the best way to display them

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The big HD or 4K screen in your living room is the perfect way to view the photos and videos you have saved on your smartphone or tablet. Now that most TVs have built-in wi-fi, it's simpler than ever to connect your mobile devices.

As well as photos and videos, a connected mobile device will let you send content from apps, such as YouTube, Netflix and more, straight to your TV. If you've ever used your TV remote to try to type in the name of a show or video, you know it's a ponderous process. Finding the video on your phone first is quicker and more convenient.

If your TV has particularly good sound, or you've got it hooked up to a sound bar, then you can play the music on your phone through it once you've connected, too.

In this guide we'll explain how to quickly and easily get your mobile device and TV connected so you can start making more use of the biggest screen in your home.

How to wirelessly connect Android devices to your TV

There are several ways to connect Android phones and tablets to your TV. Which way you choose will depend on the devices you have. 

Casting from specific apps

'Casting' is a general term that means sending content from one device to another, in this case from your mobile device to your TV.

It's easy to spot when you can cast something because you'll see a specific icon. 

 

You'll usually see the icon on video apps such as YouTube and Netflix. If you select the icon, it will then bring up a list of devices that content can be cast to. Simply select your TV and the image will be displayed.

If you can't see your chosen video on the TV, then try returning to your TV's home menu and cast again.

Screen mirroring with a Chromecast

Connecting a Chromecast to your TV lets you display your phone or tablet's screen on the TV screen. This means you could display anything on your TV, even apps and games that wouldn't normally support casting. Here's how to do it.

  • Make sure your Chromecast and mobile device are on the same network.
  • Open the Chromecast app on your phone or tablet.
  • Select Cast Screen and then hit Cast Screen again on the next screen.
  • You'll then select the Chromecast you want to connect with, and your device's screen will now be mirrored on your TV.

Screen mirroring with a Fire TV stick

Alongside the Chromecast are many other devices that let you mirror content to your screen.

Follow these steps to start mirroring using an Amazon Fire TV Stick.

  • Go to the Settings menu on your Fire TV Stick.
  • Select Display & Sounds followed by Enable Display Mirroring.
  • On your phone, select the screen mirroring option (not every phone and tablet will have this) from the quick-access menu.
  • Select the Fire TV device you want to connect with.

Don't worry if you don't see a screen mirroring function on your device. There are other ways to connect.

Screen mirroring without an internet TV box

If you don't have a Chromecast or Fire TV Stick, you may still be able to mirror your device's screen. Whether you can will depend on which TV, smartphone or tablet you own.

Newer TVs have screen mirroring software built in. You will usually need to head into your network menu to enable it. You may also see 'wi-fi direct' in the same menu. This software enables file-sharing between devices without the need for an internet connection. It's worth turning this on too, as it's another potential way of getting what's on your phone on to your TV.

 

Your phone will also need screen mirroring capabilities. Different manufacturers have different names for it. Typically, you'll find screen mirroring in the quick access menu or in the network settings of your device. 

  • Huawei's screen mirroring app is called MirrorShare. 
  • On Samsung phones it will either be called Screen Mirroring or Smart View. 
  • HTC's app is called HTC Connect.
  • Sony keeps it simple by calling its app Screen Mirroring.
  • On LG phones it is called Miracast. 

The names are the same across each brand's smartphones and tablets.

How to wirelessly connect iOS devices to your TV

Apple is the only company making iOS devices, which means there are fewer methods of connecting your iPhone or iPad to your TV.

Casting from specific apps

As with Android handsets, some iOS apps will show the cast icon. This means you can send content from that app to a compatible TV. 

 

Once you've tapped the icon, you simply select the TV you want to cast to and your content will display on the screen. If you can't see it, try returning to your TV's homepage and cast again.

Screen mirroring with an Apple TV

Screen mirroring means the same thing regardless of whether you've got an Android or iOS device. Once you're connected, you'll be able to see exactly what's on your phone or tablet's screen on your TV screen.

  • Make sure your iOS device and your Apple TV are on the same wi-fi network.
  • Swipe up from the bottom of your iOS device to reveal the control centre and select Screen Mirroring.
  • Select the Apple TV you want to cast to.
  • The Apple TV will then display a passcode, which you'll need to enter into your device.

 

If you can't see Screen Mirroring in the control centre, it may mean the version of iOS your device is running does not support it.

How to connect your phone or tablet to your TV with a wire

You may still be able to use a wire to achieve the same result if your devices don't support wireless mirroring and casting.

Some Android tablets, and even a few phones, have HDMI or mini-HDMI outputs. If so, it means you only need a HDMI-to-HDMI cable or mini-HDMI-to-HDMI cable connecting your device to the TV in order to mirror the screen.

 

You'll need an MHL cable if your Android tablet or phone doesn't have either of those outputs. An MHL cable has a micro-USB connector at one end and an HDMI connector at the other. If your phone has a USB-C rather than micro-USB connector, you'll need to buy an adaptor.

 

Apple has created its own connector to wire an iOS device to your TV. It's called the Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter and it has a Lightning connection at both ends (in case you want to charge your phone at the same time), as well as an HDMI output to connect to your TV.

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