HDMI, Cast & Screen Mirroring


With modern TVs supporting an ever increasing range of on-demand- and streaming apps, mirroring content from a phone or tablet is rarely the go-to solution for accessing that content on the larger screen – at least not when you’re at home.

But when you’re away from home and you aren’t signed into your own apps, you’re using an old TV without smart functionality, or the content you want to display is owned by you – photos and video captured on your phone, for example – there are other solutions that will be preferable.

You can connect your Android phone or tablet to a TV wirelessly or using a cable. We’ll outline your options below.

Connect Android to TV with HDMI

If you don’t want to fiddle around with settings, the simplest solution for connecting your Android phone or tablet to a TV is using an HDMI cable – provided that your device supports streaming over HDMI. You connect one end to the port on the back of your TV, and one end to the charging port on your phone, then change the Source on the TV to view the HDMI input.

You’ll notice that a standard HDMI cable won’t fit into your phone, however. If your phone or tablet has a USB-C port, this is super-easy to get around, and you can buy an HDMI cable that has a USB-C connection at one end. We like this UNI cable from Amazon.

If your phone or tablet has an older Micro-USB connection, things are a little more complicated. You can use an MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) adaptor, for which you will also need to attach a standard HDMI cable. Do note that the adaptor will typically need to be powered by USB, and that not all Android phones and tablets support MHL.

SlimPort is another term you might hear mentioned. It is a similar but slightly different technology to MHL, and does not need a separate power source. It can output to HDMI, VGA, DVI or DisplayPort, while MHL is limited to HDMI. In our experience, many people use these terms interchangeably, but in essence they are simply talking about an adaptor or cable that can convert the feed from USB to HDMI.

Some tablets might additionally feature Micro-HDMI or Mini-HDMI connections, which will simplify things. With these you can use a Micro-HDMI or Mini-HDMI to HDMI cable, but you must check the spec of your device to ensure you are buying the correct cable (these connections are different sizes). Here are examples of Micro-HDMI and Mini-HDMI cables available at Amazon.

If you have no spare HDMI ports on the back of your TV, you may also need to purchase an HDMI splitter to add more, freeing up a port to connect your phone or tablet.

Connect Android to TV wirelessly

Because not all phones and tablets support HDMI connections, and cables strewn across the living room can be messy, a wireless solution may be preferable.

Casting content from your phone or tablet to your TV is actually really straightforward, but what confuses things is the huge number of terms that are used in conjunction with it, from Miracast and Wireless Display to screen mirroring, SmartShare and everything in between. There’s also AirPlay, but this is used only for Apple devices.

Our advice is not to worry too much about these terms: you are merely looking for an option in your phone or tablet Settings that alludes to casting or screen mirroring, which may be found under Connected Devices or Display Settings, depending on your device.

Most smart TVs will support screen mirroring from Android. If you don’t have a smart TV, relatively cheap wireless display devices such as Chromecast and Roku can facilitate a wireless connection between your phone or tablet and TV, and have many other handy uses, too. Check that the screen mirroring option is enabled in the settings of whichever device you are using.

Now go back to your phone or tablet, and ensure it is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your TV. Find the casting option and select your TV (or your Chromecast/Roku/other wireless HDMI device) to begin mirroring the screen. You may be asked to enter a code displayed on the TV to confirm you are connecting to the correct device.

You will want to put your phone or tablet in landscape mode, ensure the content you want to view is open in full-screen mode, and check the volume is not turned down or muted. You may also want to consider setting Do Not Disturb options to prevent incoming notifications interrupting playback, especially if they are likely to be private. 

If the phone or tablet app in which you’re viewing the content has a Cast icon at the top of it, or your phone or tablet has a Cast option in the quick access settings in Android’s pull-down notification bar, this process is even simpler: tap Cast and select your TV or smart device to begin screen mirroring.  

Do note that some apps, such as those from Sky, will not allow you to cast their content to a larger display. There is no way to get around this wthout paying for a package that allows you to watch that content on TV rather than mobile.

Also see: How to connect a laptop to a TV


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