There are a number of ways to get the content you want to watch onto your projector. Figuring out the best way to do it largely depends on what kind of connectivity your projector offers. Some projectors only have an HDMI port, while others have a full suite of outputs ranging from USB and VGA to on-board Bluetooth.
Speaking purely in terms of picture and sound quality, HDMI is the best connection option, and that’s why you’ll find it more than any other style. This is great for something like a gaming system or cable box, but it can be a bit trickier with smartphones since they typically only offer a single micro-USB port.
There’s no one right answer for how to connect a phone to a projector with USB. It all depends on what projector you’re using and how you have it set up. Read on below to learn the best methods step by step.
Step 1: Identify what connection options your projector offers
Some projectors have a USB port. You’re more likely to find one on document projectors than home theater models, though it’s relatively uncommon in both situations. If you’re lucky enough to have this option, though, it’s by far the easiest way to connect a phone to your projector. Simply connect a cable to both devices, make sure your projector is set to the correct input channel, and turn them on.
If there is no USB port on the projector, assess what is there. Modern projectors will all have at least one HDMI port. After USB, this is the second-easiest way to connect a phone through a wired connection. If you have an older projector with no HDMI port, you’ll have the hardest time getting connected, since you’ll be working with a VGA port and the adapters for this connection aren’t always reliable.
Step 2: Assess your phone’s capabilities
What kinds of connections your phone supports will also influence your options for connecting it to a projector. Some newer devices, specifically those from Samsung, support an adapter that lets you send data straight from the USB port on your phone to the HDMI port on a TV or projector.
Other phones support MHL, which stands for Mobile High-Definition Link. If this is the case for you, you can buy an MHL to HDMI adapter that plugs into your USB port. Just make sure you pay attention to the version of MHL your device requires and that the adapter you buy supports that version.
Step 3: Get the right adapters
We touched on this a little bit already in relation to MHL adapters, but it’s just as true for every scenario. The trickiest part about connecting a phone to a projector through USB is often making sure you’re using the right cables and peripherals.
If you can find an adapter made specifically for your phone model (or at least made by the same company) this is the best way to guarantee it will reliably work with your device. This may mean spending a few extra dollars but this will be worth it in the long run, since generic adapters are generally less reliable.
Step 4: Hook it all together
For most people, this step is as simple as connecting the cable to both your projector and your phone then making sure the projector is set to the correct input. If the devices won’t communicate, try restarting them with the cable connected.
As you can see, once you have all the right pieces in place hooking up a phone to a projector with USB is actually quite easy! It really comes down to getting the right tools for the job.
What if my phone doesn’t support MHL or HDMI adapters?
If this is the case, you actually won’t be able to make a wired connection between your projector and phone using USB. This doesn’t mean all is lost, however. You can still connect your phone to the projector wirelessly. If your projector doesn’t have native wireless support, you can buy an adapter that plugs into the device’s HDMI port.
For Android phones, the two simplest ways to send a wireless signal are Chromecast and Miracast. Both require a specific adapter as well as an active Wi-Fi network to function. These options don’t exist for iPhones, unfortunately, but since modern iPhones are VGA compatible it shouldn’t be an issue.
Can I use the projector remote to control playback of content from my phone?
Not if you’re using a wired connection. Basically, you’ll just be projecting whatever is happening on your phone, so you’ll still navigate apps, choose your program, and play it the same way you normally would for watching a movie or show on the phone itself. The only things you’ll control using the projector remote are things specific to that device, like the picture and volume.
I’m getting sound but no picture (or vice versa). What should I do?
First, make sure it’s not user error. If there’s no picture, verify the projector is on the correct input channel and that the lamp is powered on. If there’s no sound, make sure neither your projector nor your phone is on mute and that the volume is at your usual listening level.
If all of those details are in place, this likely means there’s an issue with the equipment that you’re using. It could be that your adapter isn’t quite compatible with your phone. Double check the adapter’s stats against your phone’s and your projector’s and buy a different adapter if it doesn’t match.
The cable can play a role in this too, especially if you’re repurposing an older cable you had laying around your house. Just because the connections fit doesn’t mean it’s the right cable for your signal type. Buy a new cable that’s certified to be used for your devices and connection method and this should solve the problem.