Want to show off photos, videos and content from your Android phone on your TV? This is how you do it.
To connect an Android phone or tablet to a TV, you can use an MHL / SlimPort cable (via Micro-USB) or Micro-HDMI if supported, or place your screen wirelessly using Miracast or Chromecast. In this article we will look at your options for viewing your phone or tablet screen on TV. If you want to know how to share your Android screen via calls, click here.
Tablets and cellphones are perfect for individual users – light weight with very long battery life, and with a sharp and sharp screen that makes everything light from watching movies to reviewing photos.
However, a bigger crowd is asking for a bigger screen: this is how to connect your Android tablet or phone to your TV without spending a fortune or drowning in a sea of cables.
We live in a golden age of content thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. However, this is not so good when you want to share experiences with many people.
Your TV is perfect for this and we will explore your options when it comes to getting your mobile content on the big screen. We will also look at services that allow you to share subscriptions, photos and videos on the big screen – and those that don’t.
Wirelessly connect Android to TV
There is little to beat the wow factor associated with transmitting video directly from your tablet to your TV. The good thing about Android is that there is more than one way to do it. Miracast is a wireless standard that creates an ad-hoc network between two devices, usually your tablet and a set-top box that supports Miracast.
More and more TVs support Miracast without requiring additional hardware. Miracast uses H.264 for video transmission, which means efficient compression and decent full HD image quality.
Better yet, Miracast supports Digital Rights Management (DRM), which means services like iPlayer and YouTube can be streamed to TV. However, not all services work – see below. Android devices running Android 4.2 support Miracast.
The alternative (and most user friendly) is Google Cast. This cheap £ 30 dongle is connected to the backup HDMI port on your TV and connected to your wireless network. Chromecast support is developing, which means content from services like iPlayer, Netflix, BT Sport, and others can be played with the Chromecast dongle doing all the hard work instead of your tablet, and that’s good news for battery life.
It is possible to use Chromecast to reflect the display on your Android device, allowing you to play on a tablet and have videos (which are not protected by DRM) begin playing on your TV. The same applies to anything the screen can display, including applications, games and photos. You can also take the Chromecast Ultra pricier to stream 4K content too.
BBC iPlayer also supports AirPlay. Note that you cannot use Sky Go to watch Sky programs on your TV via AirPlay. For more on streaming iPad and iPhone, see our step-by-step guide on the Macworld sister site.
Which devices support Chromecast mirroring?
Today, Chromecast mirroring has reached almost everywhere, with any device running Android 5 Lollipop or newer able to support the Cast Screen feature.
All the latest devices are supported, while Google says phones that exist as far as Samsung Galaxy S4 2013 qualify.
HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) is a standard du jour interface. If your TV was purchased in the last decade it has an HDMI port, as do almost every set-top box, game console and a number of video and still cameras.
The benefit of HDMI, despite its ubiquitous presence (which means cheap), is that it accommodates HDMI and HD video at the same time, allowing you to connect devices without worrying about watching movies in full HD but must be done with your tablet’s loud speakers.
HDMI jacks are available in three sizes. Regular HDMI (or Type A, left) is a full size port found on devices where space isn’t a problem: think about TVs, laptops and game consoles. Sockets that may be found on tablets and mobile phones are Type C (also known as Mini HDMI, middle) or Type D (Micro HDMI, right). Of these, Micro HDMI, or Type D, is the smallest.
Whatever type of port your tablet has, connecting it to an HDMI socket won’t burden your Earth: expect to pay under £ 10 (under £ 5 in some cases) for an HDMI to Mini- or Micro-HDMI cable.
Some tablets have HDMI or smaller variants. This is the easiest approach.
You are not limited to buying tablets with HDMI output to connect it to a TV.
MHL or SlimPort
HDMI is easy to understand: this is a port that only does one thing. The drawback is that not all tablets have HDMI output, and very few phones have it. The good news is that a pair of widely supported standards have emerged that allow Android owners to connect to an external display using their microUSB port.
The standard in question is MHL (Mobile High Definition Link) and newer SlimPort. Both look the same, which states clearly because they only use the microUSB port on Android devices to transmit videos.
Like HDMI, SlimPort and MHL support video and audio, with up to eight surround sound channels available. Both usually require a breakout box: a small dongle between your device and a TV that converts the signal from your cellphone to HDMI compatible.
It is expected to pay between £ 5 and £ 25 for a SlimPort or MHL signal converter. It makes things a little more expensive than using a tablet with an HDMI port, but MHL in particular is supported by various mobile and tablet makers.
MHL has experienced various versions: we are currently on version three, which increases the maximum resolution to 4K – even though the price is a little more expensive. This is the same as Slim Port, and means that both standards offer very similar technical specifications.
One advantage MHL has is the support of various TV manufacturers: look at the back of your TV, and if the HDMI port has the MHL logo on it, you can use an HDMI to micro-USB cable to connect the two – the HDMI cable will provide power to your tablet or your cellphone, meaning you don’t need an extra adapter or cable. Bonus.
If your TV does not support MHL, or you have a SlimPort device, all I need is an adapter. SlimPort users have to pay around £ 15, while MHL users might spend a little less. If you use MHL, you might need an external power source: MHL 3 can draw up to 10 watts from its host device.
With SlimPort no external power supply is needed (this draws a small amount of power from your device), making settings less cluttered. Both devices require a tablet screen to live, so a breakout box usually comes with a microUSB port so the charger can be connected.
Support for MHL and SlimPort varies greatly. With three MHL versions available plus SlimPort, you all need to check the specifications of your device before buying an adapter.