It's incredibly convenient to enjoy online content on your iPhone screen, but the smaller display gets old quickly. Even with an iPhone Plus or Max model, watching more than a few minutes of video is no fun.
However, you don't have to suffer through this; it's easy to use a different display. If you've wondered how to connect an iPhone to a smart TV, we'll show you the various ways.
Who This Guide Is For
Before we get started, it's important to figure out why you need to connect an iPhone to a TV. We assume the vast majority of people are doing so to stream movies, TV shows, or to look at their own photos and videos on a big screen. This usage is what we're focusing on in this guide.
What we're not focusing on is mirroring your iPhone or iPad screen to a TV to use your iOS device on your desk, for example. If that's what you're looking for, we have a guide on mirroring your iPhone or iPad screen to your TV.
How to Screen Mirror Your iPhone or iPad to a TV
How does screen mirroring work on iPhone? Here's how to mirror your iPhone to a TV using several simple methods.
How To Connect An IPhone To A TV Wirelessly
If you want to connect your iPhone to a TV wirelessly, the easiest way is to use AirPlay. However, you'll need to check the TV and other home theater setup you're using to make sure it's compatible.
Apple's own Apple TV is one of the easiest ways to add AirPlay to your TV, but it's not the only way. Several TV manufacturers make TVs with support for AirPlay streaming built-in. These manufacturers include Samsung, Vizio, and TCL, among others.
If you don't have an AirPlay supported TV and you don't want to buy an Apple TV, you're not out of luck. There are AirPlay receivers available that will let you stream to your TV wirelessly and cost less than an Apple TV. Take a look at our roundup of cheap AirPlay receivers for a few recommendations.
Once you've got your TV ready to stream AirPlay, the rest of the process is fairly easy. Most popular streaming apps include support for AirPlay. In any of these, choose what you want to watch, then tap the AirPlay icon at the top of the screen.
Depending on how many AirPlay-ready devices you have in your home, you may see a few options. Your TV should be easy to recognize.
One caveat of this approach is that not every iOS app includes support for AirPlay. If you want to get one of these displayed on your TV, you'll need to use one of the two methods below.
How To Connect An IPhone To A TV Via HDMI
If you want to connect your iPhone to your TV with HDMI, you'll need a few items. The first is a free HDMI port on your TV, which is relatively easy to come by. In a worst-case scenario, all you'll need to do is temporally unplug something else.
Aside from a free HDMI port, you may need to buy a few accessories. The first is a spare HDMI cable, assuming you don't already have one. You'll also need Apple's Lightning Digital AV Adapter. This will cost you around $50.
For newer iPad Pro models, you'll need the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter for around $70. There may be cheaper alternatives, but they aren't guaranteed to work.
All you need to do is plug the adapter into your phone, plug an HDMI cable into the adapter, and then plug the other end of that cable into a free HDMI port on your TV. Using this method, streaming apps are limited to 1080p, so if you want 4K, you can't use this method.
It's also important to note that using this method introduces a slight delay between what your phone displays and what displays on the screen. If you're only using your iPhone to watch Netflix or a similar app, this isn't a problem. On the other hand, you won't be able to play an iOS game on the big screen this way, as it's far too laggy.
How To Connect An IPhone To A TV Via USB
Connecting your iPhone to a TV with USB may be a bit of a misnomer. The iPhone doesn't support USB, as it uses Apple's proprietary Lightning format instead. The above method is essentially the same as connecting via USB, only it uses Lighting.
That said, if you happen to have a USB Plug and Play cable lying around, you may be able to put it to use. A Plug and Play cable has one side that plugs into your phone, while the other has both HDMI and USB connectors. Both of these plug into your TV.
This method isn't as surefire as using Apple's own AV adapter, so we only recommend trying it if you have the cable already. You don't want to spend money on a new cable only to find out that it doesn't work as you planned---or even worse, it doesn't work at all.
You'll also occasionally see USB docks with iPhone compatibility that can plug into a TV. These can be handy, but many of them are limited in functionality. For example, many of these docks only output 720p video. They're also getting harder to find, so this is another option we'd only recommend trying if you have one around already.
More Ways To Connect Any Phone To Your TV
Using one or more of the methods we've detailed here, you should now be able to connect your iPhone or iPad to your TV. That said, depending on your setup, you may need to jump through a few extra hoops to get everything working. We also haven't covered every possible option, like using a Chromecast device.
If you've got more specialized needs, or maybe you occasionally need to connect an Android device to your TV, don't worry. Just take a look at our guide to connecting any phone or tablet to your TV using USB.