How to connect phone or tablet to TV without HDMI

So you’re wondering how to watch movies from your phone to your TV without HDMI. Maybe you want to show your friends a video on a bigger screen but you can’t figure out how to connect your phone to your TV.

What are your options? Do you need to buy any special adapters?

Let’s take a look.

How to watch movies from phone or tablet to TV without HDMI?

The best way to watch movies from phone to TV is either by casting content using AirPlay or Miracast or by using a USB cable. If you are not familiar with these methods, this article will help you out.

Casting using Miracast or AirPlay

The easiest way to watch movies from a phone or tablet to a TV without HDMI is with Miracast or AirPlay.

Miracast and AirPlay both allow you to stream media from your phone over the local area network to the TV with no additional cables or adapters required. Of course, your TV needs to support the technology.

Miracast is compatible with most Android phones, while AirPlay is only available for iPhones and other Apple devices.

To find out if your TV supports Miracast or AirPlay, use the remote to access the menu, open Settings, and select input. In the inputs options, you should see an option for either Miracast, AirPlay, Wi-fi casting or Screencasting.

If you do not see those options, chances are your TV does not support casting and you’ll need to use a different option. You could also research the TV model online to see which features are supported.

On that note, these casting features will only work if both the TV and phone are connected to the same Wi-fi network.

Bear in mind, if your TV does not natively support casting you can buy either a Miracast dongle, Chromecast, Apple TV, or Roku.

With those dongles, you can easily cast media from your apps or phone media library directly to the TV without HDMI.

Connect Phone to TV’s USB Port:

Another easy option that does not require you to use HDMI is to connect your phone to your TV via the TV’s USB port.

Most TV’s manufactured in the last decade have at least one USB port either on the rear or side panels. You can use your phone’s USB charging cable to connect to the TV’s USB port.

Remember to navigate to the input or source settings on the TV and select the USB option to find your phone’s files. You might need to unlock your phone and allow USB data access too.

The downside with this option is you’ll only be able to access your phone’s files. Use the TV’s remote to navigate through your phone’s system folders to find the files you want to watch. You won’t be able to watch apps on your phone with this option.

It’s also important to note that this option will only work if you downloaded movies to your phone. Another point to consider is your TV might not be able to read certain video file formats.

Most TVs support the usual image formats, so if you want to show pictures on the TV, it’s a good option to consider.

Phone HDMI Adapters:

If your TV doesn’t support casting and the USB option doesn’t work, the only remaining option is to use a phone to HDMI adapter. These adapters are not very expensive and they can be quite handy.

For Android devices, a USB-C to HDMI adapter is what you need. For iPhones, this lightning HDMI adapter should do the trick.

Plug the USB-C end into your phone and the other end into an HDMI cable connected to your TV.

On some Android phones, using an HDMI adapter will trigger a mode called Samsung Dex, which creates a Windows-like user interface on your TV.

Pair a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse with your phone and you can use your phone as a standalone computer. Very cool.

The problem with HDMI dongles like these is some apps are not supported because of HDCP issues.

Usually, apps like Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu, won’t work with these dongles.

Can You Connect Your Phone to a TV That Does Not Have HDMI Ports?

So you have an older TV that does not support HDMI, casting technologies or USB. What can you do?

It’s possible to connect a phone to a TV that does not support HDMI but you will need to use a specific adapter.

Note: You could connect a casting device to these adapters to add some life to an older TV.

USB-C to VGA adapter

Many older TVs have at least one VGA port. Connecting a phone to VGA is relatively simple, there are plenty of decent adapters out there.

The better ones require a power supply, usually powered by a USB cable. Here’s one USB-C to VGA adapter that should work.

Just bear in mind you won’t get high resolutions, the maximum resolution is usually 1920 x 1200 at 60 Hz.

Phone to RCA or AV

To connect a phone to a display that only has RCA/composite video ports, you will need to use two adapters, and there’s no guarantee it will work.

For starters, you’ll need a USB-C to HDMI adapter, similar to the ones mentioned above. Next, you’ll need an HDMI to RCA adapter.

The adapter will take an HDMI signal and output it to RCA, the colour coded ports.

From there you’ll need a set of RCA cables to connect the adapter to the matching ports on your TV.

Theoretically, it should work.

Phone to SCART

So you have a very old TV lying around that only has a SCART port.

Since finding a USB to SCART adapter or cable is almost impossible, one solution would be to use a USB to HDMI adapter, combined with an HDMI to SCART adapter.

I haven’t been able to verify if it will work but it’s worth a shot.

There’s no guarantee it will work on every phone, most modern Samsung phones should be able to handle it.

Bonus Idea: Chromecast to RCA

Here’s an idea. Instead of connecting your phone to multiple dongles, why not connect a Chromecast to your older TV?

There are HDMI to RCA adapters or converters that will allow you to convert an HDMI signal into RCA for an older TV.

Using these adapters for Chromecast is easier than connecting a phone to a TV because the phone requires one more adapter (and cable) so it’s a little neater.

But you will need to make sure the Chromecast has a good connection to your Wifi network.

I bet you never thought you would be able to watch Netflix on an old RCA TV before, huh?

What Is The Best Way To Watch Movies From Phone To TV?

While the adapters work, the setup creates a lot of cables and clutter. You’ll also need to plug and unplug your phone multiple times, which can be bothersome.

In my opinion, the best option for you is to use a casting stick. Chromecast is good, and there’s also Roku and Apple TV.

With a casting stick connected to your TV, you don’t have to plug in the phone all the time. You can just sit on your couch and cast media to your TV with no hassles.

It’s much more convenient.

Other casting options:

  • Android Box
  • Fire TV
  • Firestick
  • Miracast
  • Nvidia Shield
  • Roku
  • Many other dongles

And if your TV doesn’t have an HDMI port, consider getting an HDMI port converter for your Chromecast.

Tuck the device and the cables behind your TV and you’ll never have to deal with them again.

Everything will be wireless. Very modern and clean.

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About S. Santos

👋 I'm a technology columnist and tech blogger, with a love for video games, gadgets, home entertainment and personal technology. I've been writing about the industry now for over 10 years - first as an editor of various magazines before branching out to work on my own blog. I like to keep up with the ever-evolving world of gadgets, home entertainment, and personal technology. If not fiddling with AV cables at home or in front of the computer, I can be found playing tennis or padel. This blog is my space to explore new topics related to these hobbies; as well as share some thoughts about life in general (sometimes you need a break from electronics!). 😎

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