come back as a smartphone It’s still a new thing, and HDTVs are a lot less smart — oh, about 10 years ago — getting what’s on your phone’s screen onto a TV screen usually requires adapter dongles, cables, and a lot of frustration.
Today, devices like improved wireless standards, smart TVs, streaming apps, and Roku boxes all make that easier. Even the phone itself does this better. Of course, there are still some hurdles to jump through sometimes, especially if you have older hardware, but there’s almost always a way to get streaming video, photos, or anything else from your phone onto the big screen.
Still, a word to the smart: when you have time, test your setup in a relaxed environment. Don’t wait for your family or colleagues to get together and wait impatiently for you to figure out how to connect.
Newer setups are probably the easiest
If you have a big screen TV made in the last three or four years and your iPhone or Android phone is up to date, streaming is likely just a simple matter of finding your HDTV in your phone setup and direct glow. Many newer smart TVs support Apple’s AirPlay or Google’s Chromecast, or both. These streaming standards allow you to send video content to your TV or mirror your phone’s screen. You may have to enable this feature in your TV settings for your phone to find the device.
On iPhone, you can access screen mirroring settings by swiping down from the top right corner of the screen. The icon that looks like two overlapping rectangles shows you which devices are nearby for streaming. Look there for an Airplay-enabled TV. In an Airplay-enabled app (such as Apple’s TV app or YouTube), look for the streaming icon (rectangle with a triangle at the bottom) or AirPlay icon (circle with a triangle at the bottom) and select TV.
On an Android phone, you can use the Google Home app to select your TV and send a video to it, or use the Cast button (rectangle with a light beam in the lower left corner) to do the same in apps like YouTube. To mirror your screen to a Chromecast-enabled TV, you can also go directly to Android Settings, select Display, and then select Cast Screen.
Make sure your TV software is up to date and your phone and TV are on the same Wi-Fi network. If your TV’s network settings are disabled, or if it’s using an Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi, your TV may not appear as a streaming option.
Important: If you live in an apartment or near another home or business, make sure you’re streaming on the correct TV, especially if you’re sharing a Wi-Fi network. You could end up sending your TV show to the wrong device in someone else’s living room.
How to Stream to Old TVs and Set-Top Boxes
If your TV is older and doesn’t support standards like AirPlay or Chromecast, it’s best to stream to a connected device that works with your TV, such as Apple TV, Amazon’s Fire products, Google’s Chromecast hardware device, or Roku one of the streaming media devices.
Any Apple TV box should be capable of AirPlay, but so are some other devices, such as Roku’s 4K box. For features like screen mirroring or sharing photos on your TV, Roku recommends using its own mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices. Oddly, Roku says that Google’s own phones, such as the Google Nexus and Google Pixel running OS 6.0 or later, cannot screen mirror the Roku box.