How to connect your iPhone or iPad to your big-screen TV

By Microsoft 10 Min Read
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Your iPhone and iPad screens are beautiful enough, but are they big enough to show off your favorite videos, photos, and other visual content? Probably not; fortunately, it’s easy enough to connect those devices to your big-screen TV. We’ll show you all the ways to do just that. And you don’t even need a fancy smart TV.

Keep in mind that if your goal is to watch streaming services such as Apple TV+, Netflix, or Hulu on your television, mirroring your iPhone or iPad is neither necessary nor the most practical solution. Instead, you can buy a low-cost streaming media player such as a Roku Streaming Stick+ or Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, plug them into your TV, and operate them with a proper remote control. Here’s a link to our guide to the best media-streaming boxes.

Apple TV 4K (2022) (64GB)

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Still, mirroring can be useful if you want to replay videos you’ve recorded on the device, display your photo library, present a slideshow, communally browse social media, or show off your iOS gaming skills on the TV screen. Read on for instructions on how to do that.

Wireless mirroring with AirPlay

The easiest way to mirror your iPhone or iPad to your TV is through Apple’s wireless AirPlay protocol. This allows you to either stream your entire screen’s contents straight to the TV, or beam just the video and audio from within supported apps.

While AirPlay used to require an Apple TV streaming box, it now works on most modern Roku devices, select LG TVs from 2018 onward, select Samsung TVs from 2018 onward, select Sony TVs, all Vizio SmartCast TVs, and 2020 Fire TV Edition TVs from Toshiba and Insignia.

Here’s how to mirror what’s on your iPhone or iPad display:

Ensure that both the TV device and iOS device are on the same Wi-Fi network. (For TVs with AirPlay support, make sure you’ve set up their smart TV software.)
If you have an iPhone X or newer or an iPad running iOS 12 or later, swipe down from the upper-right corner to reveal the Control Center. Otherwise, swipe up for Control Center instead.
Tap the screen mirroring button, which looks like two overlapping boxes.
Select your TV from the list. (If you have multiple AirPlay-compatible devices, consider labeling each one based on the room it’s in.)
On your iOS device, enter the four-digit code that appears on your TV screen. (By default, you’ll only need to do this once for each device.)
To disconnect from the TV, follow steps 1 through 3, and then select “Stop Mirroring” from the list.

origin 1To start mirroring your screen wirelessly to an Apple TV, just open Control Center and select “Screen Mirroring.”

Jared Newman / IDG

Keep in mind that with many video and audio apps, mirroring isn’t necessary. Instead, you can just tap the AirPlay icon during audio or video playback—it looks like a TV with a triangle at the bottom—and then select your Apple TV from the device list. Alternatively, bring up Control Center and tap the AirPlay icon (it looks like a concentric circle with a triangle at the bottom). Using AirPlay with these methods consumes less battery than mirroring, and it allows you to use the iOS device for other tasks while music and video play on the television.

origin 1With most video apps, you can hit the AirPlay button to send video to the TV instead of mirroring your display directly.

Jared Newman / IDG

Connect an iPhone or iPad with an HDMI cable

While a wired HDMI adapter isn’t as convenient as AirPlay for screen mirroring, it’s a more straightforward way of connecting, especially if Wi-Fi is flaky or unavailable.

For an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with a Lightning connector, you can use Apple’s Lightning Digital AV adapter, which costs about $40. Cheaper third-party adapters are also available, but be aware that these will not support streaming video apps that use copy protection, such as Netflix. (You’ll also need to supply your own cable, so consider getting an HDMI cable that’s at least 15 feet long if you want to sit a comfortable distance from the TV.)

origin 1Apple’s official Lightning Digital AV Adapter is pricey, but it’ll let you mirror an iPhone or iPad on your TV with no hassles.

Jared Newman / IDG

Setup is easy: Just plug the HDMI cable into your TV on one end and the adapter on the other, plug the Lightning cable into your iOS device, and set the TV to the appropriate input. You can also plug a charger into the adapter’s second Lightning port to keep your iOS device’s battery from draining.

Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter (model MD826AM/A)

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Most apps will simply mirror the iOS device’s display onto the television, but video apps such as Amazon Prime and Netflix might offer persistent playback controls while the video plays on the TV.

origin 1Some video apps, such as Netflix, provide handy media controls when the adapter is plugged into a television.

Jared Newman / IDG

As for older iOS devices with 30-pin charging ports, Apple no longer sells its own 30-pin-to-HDMI adapter, but you can find third-party options, such as the JIMAT model shown below, on Amazon. (It’s important to note, however, that these might not work with streaming video apps, due to copy protection. The same is true of third-party Lightning adapters.)

JIMAT 30-Pin to HDMI, Dock to HDMI TV AV Cable Adapter Video Converter

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Apple no longer sells its Composite A/V cable that enabled you to connect iOS devices to older tube TVs.

Mirroring to Fire TV and Chromecast

If you don’t want to buy a compatible AirPlay device or HDMI adapter, you can use mirroring apps to share your iPhone or iPad screen on Fire TV and Chromecast devices instead.

Several apps offer this with varying degrees of success, but I’ve gotten good results from 2kit Consulting’s Screen Mirroring apps for Fire TV, and Chromecast. These apps use iOS’s Screen Recording feature to capture video from your iOS device and send it to the streaming player. (With the Fire TV app, you’ll also need to download a separate app on the player itself, but the iOS app will guide you through the process.)

origin 12kit Consulting’s Screen Mirroring apps aren’t as sharp or responsive as AirPlay mirroring, but they’re a good enough alternative for Fire TV and Chromecast devices.

Jared Newman / IDG

Some caveats do apply: You’ll experience some delay, video quality isn’t perfect, and you’ll usually have to sit through an ad before you can mirror unless you upgrade to the paid versions of these apps. Still, these apps are good enough for mirroring photos, websites, presentations, and social media feeds.

With Chromecast, be aware that you can also send video, audio, pictures, and information to your TV from thousands of supported apps. These apps will allow you to play content directly on the television, so you don’t need to mirror your iPhone or iPad display.

origin 1To stream media directly through Chromecast instead of mirroring your display, just look for the Cast button in supported apps.

Jared Newman / IDG

After plugging the Chromecast into your television, use the Google Home companion app to connect the device with your wireless network. You should then see the Chromecast icon appear in supported apps. Tap on it, and then select your Chromecast from the device list. Once you begin media playback, it will appear on the television instead of your iPhone or iPad.

With Roku players, you can also share photos, videos, and music from an iOS device using the Roku mobile app. After installing, just head over to the “media” tab to get started.

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