How to connect your Android to your TV

ByKim Staples
Mobile and TV

Sometimes your Android phone or tablet is just too small. Whether you want to watch a film, listen to some sick beats, or just share some pictures with the room, there’s a good chance your TV set is more suited.

Luckily, it's not difficult to connect an Android device to a telly. You may need an extra bit of tech, and you can't send absolutely everything to the big screen - but it's easy peasy. Here are three ways you can connect your gadgets.

With a cable

Connecting with a cable is a little tricky at first, but once you've got things set up it's a piece of cake - you can pretty much just plug in and play. A cable connection completely mirrors your Android device's display onto the TV screen, though there are a few apps that won't do so. Sky Go and BT Sport, for instance, have copyright protection and won't allow you to mirror their content.

To connect with a cable, the first step is to look at what ports your phone or tablet has. This will determine what kind of cable you need.

Micro-USB is the standard charging port for most Androids. Check your device's specs to see if it supports MHL or SlimPort - you'll probably find this in its manual or on the manufacturer's website.

Next, look at the ports on your TV to figure out your next steps. They may be:

  • A HDMI port - This will get the best and clearest picture, and can be found on most modern TV sets. All the above cables will plug into this.
  • A VGA port - You'll also need a HDMI-to-VGA cable.
  • Composite AV ports - The ones consisting of four different colours. You'll also need a HDMI-to-composite AV converter and a set of video cables.

Extender HDMI cables are available too if you need a bit more reach.

Once you've got the right cables and plugged everything in, check the TV has been changed to the correct input, and you should be good to go. Still, you'll need to keep it physically connected the whole time you're using it, which can be a bit of a pain. Luckily there are some wireless options…

With a Chromecast

Chromecasts are pretty cool gadgets. Plug one into your telly's HDMI port and get it connected to your Wi-Fi, and you can download apps, watch videos, browse the web, play games, and more. And, most importantly, you can 'cast' content from some of the apps on your Android.

How does the Chromecast compare to the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick?

Unlike a cabled connection, casting to your TV doesn't mirror your device's screen - it just sends a selected piece of media to it, like a video, a photo, or a playlist.

Sadly, not all Android devices support casting natively, though most recent models do. There's always the Chromecast app to help you along too. And again, not all apps let you cast to another screen - but the Chromecast itself comes in handy here, as you can download apps directly to it, including BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Now TV, and BT Sport.

To connect your Android to your TV with a Chromecast:

1. Plug in the Chromecast, set it up, and connect it to the same Wi-Fi network as your Android.

2. Go to the app you want to cast from on your Android, and pick your content. YouTube will work, as will Chrome, Spotify, and tons more.

3. Tap the cast icon - it looks like a rectangle with three curves on the bottom corner. And presto! You should now be streaming to the Chromecast.

With Miracast

Another wire-free method of connecting is via Miracast. It's a wireless standard that basically lets you cast from your Android directly to your TV set, without the need for a Chromecast as a middleman.

To use Miracast, you'll need hardware that supports it. Look for "Miracast certified" on your gadgets' product descriptions. Some TVs, particularly smart TVs, are Miracast-enabled; some set top boxes are; and a fair number of Android devices are as well. You can even buy a Miracast receiver dongle to plug into your TV's HDMI port. One place you definitely won't find it is on iOS devices - Apple prefers its own AirPlay system.

Like a direct cable connection, your device's display will be mirrored on the TV screen. Here's how to do it:

1. Go to the Settings menu on your Android and look for the display settings.

2. Toggle on 'wireless display' or 'screen mirroring'. It will scan for nearby Miracast devices, so select your TV (or set top box, or Miracast dongle) when it pops up.

3. Either your phone and TV will connect automatically, or you'll be prompted to enter a PIN code - which will be shown on the TV screen. Enter it, et voila - your display should now be mirrored to the telly.

As per usual, be warned that not all apps allow mirroring. 

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