How to connect your iPad or iPhone to your TV

How to connect iPad and iPhone to a TV icon

Hooking your iPhone or iPad up to your TV set is easier than you think - so long as you’ve got the right equipment. You'll likely need to buy yourself some extra tech to get it set up, but it's worth it if you want to mirror your gadget onto the telly.

It means you can watch videos from TV-on-demand apps, show off your photos on the big screen, stream your music to the TV's stereo system, or read your texts more easily when you can't find your glasses. Read on and we'll take you through three ways get it all connected.

With an Apple TV

The easiest way to stream content from an iOS device to a telly is by far with an Apple TV. It's not the cheapest solution in the world, but boy is it worth it - you'll also have access to tons of apps like iTunes, Now TV, and loads of games. And, of course, you can stream from your iPad or iPhone with just a few swipes. Here's how to get going.

1. Make sure your Apple TV is set up. Plug it into your TV set, switch it on, get it connected to your home Wi-Fi network, and check that AirPlay is turned on.

2. Load up the app (or video, or photo) you want to stream and find the AirPlay icon. It looks like a rectangle with a black triangle underneath it - kind of like a pyramid at the cinema.

  • On iOS 7 and above: Swipe upwards from the bottom of your device's screen and select AirPlay. Or, start the video and select the AirPlay button that appears. Then select 'Apple TV'.
  • On iOS 6 and below: Tap the home button twice, then swipe to the right to open the brightness menu. Select AirPlay, then select 'Apple TV'.

3. Presto! Your TV screen should now be a duplicate of your device's display.

Bear in mind that AirPlay is only possible if your Apple TV is second-generation or later, and if your gadget is an iPhone 4, iPad 2, or later. For the best experience, we'd also recommend updating to the latest version of iOS.

Bear in mind that some iOS apps are not AirPlay compatible - BT Sport, Sky Go, and Demand 5, for instance. That's mostly due to rights restrictions on the content, though some simply don't support it. Luckily, there are dozens of apps you can download straight to the Apple TV itself, and stream directly - including BT Sport.

Which is best: Amazon Fire Stick, Chromecast, or Apple TV?

With a Chromecast

The Apple ecosystem doesn't have a monopoly on TV streaming sticks. You can also wirelessly connect your iPad or iPhone to a Chromecast. As with an Apple TV, it's not cheap, but you'll be able to download all kinds of apps to use on your telly. And yes, they include BT Sport. Here's what to do.

1. Get your Chromecast set up. Plug it into the TV set, switch it on, and connect it to your home Wi-Fi.

2. Download the Chromecast app to your iPhone or iPad. Then go to the Wi-Fi settings of your device and select the Chromecast network.

3. Once it's downloaded, open the app. It should have already detected your Chromecast, and will take you through the settings to get them connected.

4. Go to the app you want to use - YouTube, Netflix, iPlayer, and Spotify will all work - and select the Chromecast icon. It looks like a rectangle with three curves in the bottom corner, kind of like a picture frame with an ice cream cone stuck on the side. This will 'cast' the content straight onto your TV screen. Hooray!

The main drawback to connecting with a Chromecast is that there are very few iOS apps that actually support casting - and it's not really possible to just mirror your gadget's screen.

With a cable

Another solution is to directly connect your device to your TV with the use of a special cable. They're a bit fiddly, and mean you'll need to keep your device physically connected to your TV… but you'll be able to mirror most apps to the TV. Though bear in mind that, as with Apple TV, certain apps that have rights restrictions won't work.

To get started, you'll need to work out what kind of connection you need and buy the right cables and adapters.

  • Your TV will have either a HDMI port, VGA port, or composite AV ports. Meanwhile, your iOS device will have either a Lightning port or a 30-pin port, depending on how old it is.
  • For a TV with an HDMI port, you will need an HDMI cable and an Apple Digital AV Adapter (either a 30-pin or a Lightning one).
  • For a TV with a VGA port, you will need a VGA cable and an Apple VGA Adapter (either a 30-pin or a Lightning one).
  • For a TV with composite AV ports, you will need an Apple Composite AV Cable. This is only available with a 30-pin connector, so if your device is a later one with a Lightning port, you'll also need a Lightning to 30-pin Adapter.

Plug everything in, and change the TV's input to match the port the cable is plugged into. And boom, the TV will mirror the display of your iOS device.

As a bonus, you'll be able to watch videos in 1080p Full HD if you're using an iPad 2, iPhone 4s, or later - and the battery of your device will charge while it's connected.

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