How to Use your Smartphone on a TV using USB and other Connections

How to Use your Smartphone on a TV using USB and other Connections

Everyone knows that bigger is better nowadays. With smartphones and tablets growing in screen size every other month, TVs are most definitely not an exception to the rule. If anything, they invented the rule. Given the technology of the time, everything is also now becoming more connected. You can combine most of your peripheral devices into one to create the ideal solution between the two. For this post, we’ll look at a couple of great ways you can view your smartphone screen on an HDTV using USB and other comparable connections.

We’ve already said it before, but still it’s hard to believe. Smartphone displays are growing larger and larger by the day. Enormous 4.7” displays are now the norm for high end handsets, and “phablets” (happy medium between a smartphone and tablet) are pushing the boundaries of portability even further with screen sizes of up to 6.1”. But even these generously large displays are no real substitute for a giant flat screen TV. As convenient as smartphones are sometimes you just want to relax on your couch and watch something a whole lot bigger and farther away from your face. Here are six ways you can output your smartphone’s display to a HDTV at 720p or 1080p resolution. Most of these options will “mirror” your smartphone display to your TV.

Micro-HDMI Connection

If you’re lucky enough to have a unique smartphone with a built in micro-HDMI port (commonly found on Sony and Motorola phones), then hooking it up to a TV will probably be pretty easy. Just grab an HDMI to micro-HDMI cable, put the small end into your phone, and the bigger end into your TV. If you’re lucky, your phone may have come with this cable already. Otherwise internet wholesalers will provide it for an affordable $5 or $6.

MHL-HDMI Adapter

Let’s say you don’t have a micro-HDMI output on your phone. Not a problem, it may also support HDMI output anyway using an optional adapter. These are available in official and non official formats. Apple has both 30-pin and Lightning HDMI adapters for the two different iPhone connectors, and Samsung offers two different MHL (short for mobile high definition link) adapters for its range of Galaxy smartphones. For all other smartphones, check whether it supports MHL output in the specifications, and if it does, you can pick up a cheaper micro-USB MHL to HDMI adapter for around $8 online.

Dock Connecters

Another wired option for connecting your smartphone to your HDTV is a dock. These have the advantage of combing main power and HDMI output together, so you can recharge your smartphone while it’s connected to your HDTV (otherwise, the HDMI output will probably drain your smartphone’s battery rather quickly). Docks also have the advantage of proudly displaying your precious smartphone in the living room, even though the screen can be a little distracting when placed next to the TV. Some companies like Sony and Motorola, even build special made for TV interfaces into their smartphones that will only display when you connect them to the official dock. The downside to this is that they’re between 10 and 20 time more expensive than the MHL adapters.

Wireless Media Players

Depending on which smartphone you’re using, you may be able to buy a brand-specific media player that mirror’s your smartphone display wirelessly. Apple devices have the Apple TV, Samsung devices have the Samsung AllShare Cast Hub, and HTC devices have the HTC MediaLink. It’s also worth pointing out that wireless mirroring isn’t as reliable as a wired connection, as it’s subject to the vagaries of your home wireless network and may cut out every now and then. Still, you can’t argue with the convenience if you can afford it – expect to shell out around a hundred bucks for the privilege.

Xbox 360 or PS3

If you’re only after music or video streaming (rather than the full-fledge screen mirroring), you may not even need to buy a media player. Xbox 360 and PS3 owners already have the requisite hardware – you just need to pair it up with an app like DoubleTwist (for Android) or media:connect (for iOS devices) to output music and movies over a wireless connection. As with the brand-specific wireless media players, this method isn’t as fool-proof as a wired connection, and some movies (depending on the audio and video codecs use) simply refuse to play, but it should work for most of the content in your smartphone media library. Keep it in mind that you will also obviously need a compatible HDTV as well.

HDTV or DVD/Blu-ray player

Some HDTVs or DVD/Blu-ray players with built-in Wi-Fi will support DLNA media streaming from an Android smartphone. Unfortunately however, this isn’t the easiest thing for people to set up. Most Android smartphones come with a media streaming application pre-installed that allows you to push multimedia content to a DLNA-compatible TV. On Samsung devices, it’s the AllShare Play app, and we’ll use this as an example in this section. To stream a file onto your HDTV or media player, open the AllShare Play app, tap on the name of your device under the Registered Devices section, find the file you want to play in the file explorer, and then tap it to open it. Once it’s playing, press the ‘play to’ button in the top left corner of the screen. If you have more than one DLNA device on the network, you’ll be able to choose which one to output to.

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Vincent Clarke

Vincent Clarke is the Universal Serial Bus (USB) Guru for When he's not writing tutorials and catching up on the latest USB news, Vincent is busy preparing his next blog post and answering USB questions from his readers and subscribers.

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