If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad and want to connect it to your TV, there are a few ways to do so. Whether you want to showcase your holiday snaps, show everyone your mad game skillz or watch your favourite YouTube videos on something larger than a mobile display, we’ve got you covered right here.
Use physical cables
The cheapest, and arguably easiest, way to connect your iPhone or iPad to a TV is to use Apple’s own Lightning Digital AV Adapter. It’s available via the Apple Store for £49/$49, and doesn’t include the required HDMI cable, although those can be found fairly cheap on the likes of Amazon (£4.99/$6.99). It’s a premium, but that should come as no surprise for long-time Apple fans.
It’s a handy bit of kit that provides a way for you to connect to any 1080p HDMI-enabled TV, and also comes with a second Lightning input, allowing you to charge your iPhone or iPad whilst using the Lightning port to mirror your display to your TV. No more battery woes!
It’s worth noting that the Lightning Digital AV Adapter has been designed for use with Lightning devices - if you’ve got a recent USB-C-enabled iPad Pro, you’ll have to opt for a USB-C-to-HDMI cable (like this) and old 30-pin product users need something like this.
Using Apple’s Lightning Digital AV Adapter - or any third-party alternative - is a fairly straightforward process:
- Plug one end of a HDMI cable into your TV, and plug the other end into the adapter’s HDMI port.
- Plug the adapter into the Lightning port of your iPhone or iPad.
Once you’ve got everything connected, simply turn on your TV and navigate to the correct HDMI input. You should then see your iPhone or iPad display on your TV, ready to share photos, videos or just about anything else. The aspect ratio may not match your TV when scrolling through apps depending on the device you’re using, but this issue should resolve itself when it comes to media playback.
Use Apple TV and AirPlay
While using a cable to connect your iPhone or iPad to a TV works well, it’s a bit inconvenient having to plug your phone in whenever you want to see content on the big screen, right?
That’s where Apple’s AirPlay technology comes into play - the tech on offer from Apple’s Apple TV range - starting at £149/$149 for the 2015 model or £179/$179 for the 4K model - along with a limited number of smart TVs. It’s a more expensive option than using a cable, but it offers wireless connectivity and all that the Apple TV range offers, from catch-up TV to a library of exclusive Apple Arcade games.
If you’ve got an Apple TV and want to connect your iPhone or iPad, there are two options to choose between: screen mirroring or media playback. We talk you through both right here.
Mirroring your screen
Mirroring your screen does what it says on the tin - it displays whatever you’ve got on your iPhone or iPad display on your Apple TV, allowing you to showcase gameplay, video calls and just about anything else on your TV. As with the wired connection, the aspect ratio will likely be different to that of your TV, although this depends on the orientation and aspect ratio of your iOS device.
If you want to mirror your display on your TV:
- Connect your iPhone or iPad to the same Wi-Fi network as your Apple TV. It can connect without doing so, using a combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but the results aren’t as reliable.
- Access Control Center on your iOS device. If you’re on an iPad or Face ID-enabled iPhone, swipe down from the top-right, and if you’re on an older iPhone, swipe up from the bottom of the display.
- Tap Screen Mirroring, and then tap your Apple TV. (If you’re running iOS 10, tap AirPlay and then select your Apple TV).
- Swipe up to exit the Control Centre.
- Your iPhone or iPad display should now be wirelessly mirrored on your TV.
If you only want to use AirPlay to play music, photos or videos on your TV, there’s no need to mirror your entire display. In fact, by selecting your Apple TV as your AirPlay output, you may actually see improved performance compared to media playback via full screen mirroring.
To play music and watch videos from your iPhone or iPad on your Apple TV, follow these steps:
- Start playback on your iOS device. This can be anything from music in Apple Music to a video playing in Safari.
- Access Control Centre by swiping down from the top-right on a recent iPhone or iPad, or swipe up from the bottom on iPhone 8 or earlier.
- Tap the circular icon above the media controls to access your output.
- Tap your Apple TV to connect.
- Your media should now play on your Apple TV without displaying your entire display.
It’s worth noting that while this method should work with media via most apps, developers can opt-out of using the tech if they choose to.
For Android counterparts, here's how to connect an Android to TV.