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How to Connect an iPhone to TV: HDMI Adapter or Apple TV?

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Are you hoping to connect your iPhone to your TV?

Are you hoping to connect your iPhone to your TV?

Apple TV vs. HDMI Cable

There are plenty of cool things you can do when you connect your iPhone to a TV. For example, you can:

  • Take pictures with your iPhone and share them over your big HD-TV.
  • Record your last family celebration on video and show it on a big screen.
  • Send some cool tunes to your Hi-Fi System, which is connected to your TV.
  • Watch a movie from your iPhone on your TV.

If this is what you are looking for, read on! There are two possible ways to go:

  1. Wired by using a Lightning HDMI adapter and HDMI cable.
  2. Wireless by connecting your iPhone to your HDTV over Wi-Fi with Apple TV.

Which option is best for you depends on your individual usage. Travellers would likely rather use the adapter, while home users should go for an Apple TV.

The Lightning HDMI adapter is good for travellers.

The Lightning HDMI adapter is good for travellers.

The Digital AV adapter is ultra portable and it delivers great, reliable video quality. However, be aware that Lightning is not capable of streaming a "raw" HDMI signal across the cable. The signal will be converted which might might lead to minor quality losses.

If you need the iPhone to TV connection on the go, especially for hotel rooms or presentations, the Digital AV HDMI adapter cable is definitely a good choice for you. It does not require any wi-fi set-up and will work easily with any TV or external display providing HDMI input connectors (which nowadays nearly every display has).

  1. Connect the adapter to your iPhone
  2. Connect the adapter to any TV using any HDMI cable
  3. Your iPhone will automatically detect the new screen and play photos, videos and other content on the big one.

However, if you are most likely to use the iPhone to TV set up at home, it is recommend to choose Apple TV. Is is much easier to control video playback on TV wirelessly than being restricted to a 10 feet HDMI cable.

Apple TV is the best option for connecting an iPhone to a TV at home.

Apple TV is the best option for connecting an iPhone to a TV at home.

In short, Airplay is the only thing that Android users are really jealous of Apple users.

Airplay is a technology that connects the entire Apple ecosystem over Wi-Fi, making it possible to stream high quality HD multimedia content from one device to another.

Every iDevice (iPhone, iPad, iPod) running at least iOS 4.3 can benefit from Airplay by streaming audio and video content wirelessly to a TV. Even modern Macbook models can do so.

Apple TV is the receiver for these Airplay signals and acts as the the bridge between your Airplay enabled iDevices and your regular TV set. Apple TV will be connected to your TV set through an HDMI cable and is hooked into an existing Wi-Fi network.

The initial set-up of an Apple TV roughly takes about 10 mins. After that your iPhone can be connected to your Apple TV in no time at all:

iPhone to Apple TV in Three Easy Steps

  1. Make sure your iPhone is connected to the same wifi network as your Apple TV.
  2. Start playing any audio or video content on your iPhone. Swipe from the outside of your display from bottom to top to open the control center.
  3. Press "Airplay" and select 'Apple TV'. The video from your iPhone screen will nicely fade over to your TV screen.

Alternatively, you could use AirPlay Mirroring to show an exact 1:1 copy of your iPhone screen on your TV.

As mentioned before not only your iPhone but every iDevice and even computers can benefit from Apple TV Airplay. To get a full list of supported devices we recommend the Apple knowledge base article HT4437 "AirPlay requirements and capabilities"

Extra tip: Apple TV, thanks to its native apps, allows you to access your iTunes media content such as music, movies and TV shows directly from the Apple TV without even turning on your iPhone. If you are using Camera Roll you could also directly access those pictures and videos taken with your iPhone camera from your Apple TV as well.

Apps That Work Nicely With Apple TV Airplay

These iOS Apps for iPhone support Airplay and can be streamed to your HDTV. Note: There are a lot more apps that support Airplay. Just visit the "Airplay Apps" section in the Appstore

AppApp Description

Angry Birds

Play the famous iPhone game on your big HD TV!


Watch photos from your iPhone on TV with the iOS Photos App

Fitness Class

Support Airplay so you can follow the fitness class instructions from your iPhone on TV!


Watch videos from your iPhone on your TV using the iOS video App


Stream movies from the huge Netflix catalog and control everything with your iPhone


The popular social, watch-later video service supports Airplay as well


One of the top classics and even far more fun to play multi-player on TV when you have people over.

Comparison: Lightning Adapter vs. Apple TV - Which one is worth its money?

Comparison: Lightning Adapter vs. Apple TV - Which one is worth its money?

What Is the Best Option?

When it comes to connecting an iPhone to TV, the combination between Apple TV and Airplay offers much more than the Lightning HDMI adapter.

Apple TV has the following advantages:

  • Wireless Airplay is much more convenient than the HDMI cable solution.
  • Apple TV is better value for money compared to the adapter.
  • iPad, iPod and Macbook can also be connected to TV via Airplay.
  • You can control video playback from your sofa.
  • Native Apple TV apps allow you to access your media library or watch movies without even turning on your iPhone.
  • More and more features are likely to be added to Apple TV.

Of course there are some drawbacks to the Apple TV solutions as well:

  • Apple TV is more expensive than the Lightning HDMI adapter cable.
  • Apple TV is not really portable, recommended for home use only.
  • The video connection with the HDMI adapter cable is more stable than AirPlay, which requires a good high-speed wi-fi network to work properly.

So, before buying a $49 Digital AV HDMI Adapter, you should consider Apple TV as an alternative.

Except for some special cases (e.g., for travel or presentation purposes), the Apple TV is the better option to connect your iPhone to TV compared to the Lightning Digital AV adapter solution.

*iPhone 5, iPad (4th generation) and iPad Mini. Older devices are equipped with a 30-pin connector and require the 30-pin Digital AV adapter
** AirPlay support for Macs released in mid 2011 or later. Visit to get a

 Lightning HDMI AdapterAirPlay with Apple TV

Output Quality

1080p HD

1080p HD

Initial Setup

approx. 2 minutes

approx. 10 minutes

Connection type

HDMI cable

Wi-Fi Network

Compatible devices

iPhone, iPad, iPad mini with Lightning connector*

iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, iPod touch, Macbook, iMac, Mac mini **







This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can you connect a keyboard and trackpad to an iPhone?

Answer: No, that’s not possible.

Question: Does this work with an iPhone X?

Answer: Yes, both methods (HDMI Adapter or Apple TV) also work for iPhone X and newer.


Lil BoB785 on February 28, 2018:

Personally, I use ArkMC. It works perfect with no bugs, user-friendly, and it's compatible not only with my xBox but I can also share all my meadia from iphone to different devices (PC, TV, Mac, etc.)5/5

JessicaMartin123 on September 18, 2017:


I have come across with a very technical device name Prijector : A Wireless Screen Mirroring Device. You can mirror your iPhone, iPad, Android, MAC, Windows, Tablet, PC screen to TV/Projector Wirelessly and it also integrated with various VC apps. -

Chez on April 12, 2017:

This is not true. Our ipad does not mirror its screen onto our TV despite using Apple's own lightning connector. If you want to waste your money, by all means go out and buy Apple's connector but don't be surprised when it doesn't work.

Adriangon on June 02, 2016:

I'm using Sunshine app and is free and no cable need. I use it with iphone and samsung smart tv and works really good!