Can You Use Your Phone as a Remote for a Non-Smart TV?

Smart phone in front of old TVSmart phone in front of old TV

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Many people still own non-smart TVs, even with the current state of the entertainment market. One of the perks of owning a smart TV is using your phone as a remote control, but it is still possible to do this with a non-smart TV.

What Phones Can Control a Non-Smart TV?

Using a phone to control a non-smart TV is a tricky process. While some Android models have built-in IR blasters, iPhones do not. 

You would need to purchase and connect an IR dongle if you wanted to use a phone without an IR blaster to control your TV. While this is possible, it’s much easier to just get a universal remote control.

Some of the most popular Android phones that do include an IR blaster and can control non-smart TVs without any additional hardware include:

  • LG G2
  • LG L90
  • LG Volt
  • Lenovo Vibe X3
  • Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, and S6

If you have one of these phones, or another phone with an IR blaster, you can use it to control your non-smart TV.

How Can I Tell if My Phone Has an IR Blaster?

Before you download a universal remote app to try and control your non-smart TV, you should make sure your phone is actually capable of doing so.

There are a few ways you can find out whether your Android phone has an IR blaster:

  • Read the Specifications section of your phone’s manual. See if the words “IR blaster” or “infrared blaster” are mentioned.
  • Check the product listing online. Find your phone on the manufacturer’s website, then look under the “Connectivity” or “Communications” section.
  • Look through your phone’s pre-installed apps. Some phones that include IR blasters have dedicated apps to control TVs already installed.

If you don’t see any mentions of an IR blaster in any of these places, chances are your phone does not have one. 

What Apps Can Control a Non-Smart TV?

There are tons of universal remote control apps available in the Google Play Store that allow you to control a non-smart TV with your phone. Three of the best include:

These are some of the most popular and highly-downloaded TV remote apps on the Google Play Store. However, there are many other options to suit your preferences. 

Can I Control Other Devices with My Phone?

The beauty of a universal remote control app is that it’s universal. This means you can use it to control more than just the TV. 

Anything that communicates through an IR sensor will work with these apps. This includes: 

  • Smart TVs
  • DVD players
  • Blu-Ray players
  • Streaming devices
  • Surround sound systems

Newer phones also support features such as voice commands and air gestures. Even without a smart TV, an IR-enabled smartphone will go a long way toward converting your home into a smart home.

How to Connect an IR Dongle to Your Smartphone

If your phone does not have a built-in IR blaster, you can purchase and connect a compatible IR dongle and connect it to your phone’s headphone jack or lightning port. 

However, these devices have compatibility issues with certain phones, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll work with yours. 

For this reason, I recommend purchasing a universal remote control instead. But, if you’re really dedicated, you can still go this route.

Connecting an IR Dongle to an Android

Most Android-compatible IR dongles will connect to either your phone’s headphone jack or charging port

After plugging it in, download and open your chosen universal remote control app, then follow the on-screen instructions.

Connecting an IR Dongle to an iPhone

Most of the iPhone-compatible IR dongles you can purchase online have one dedicated app they work with. 

To use an IR dongle with your iPhone, plug it into the lighting port and download the necessary app from the App Store. 

Then, open your Bluetooth settings and pair the dongle with your phone. Once you’ve done that, just launch the app and follow the steps to set it up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Smart TVs Have IR?

Most smart TVs are equipped with a built-in IR blaster, mainly so they can be paired with a universal remote

However, a few of the newest smart TVs don’t have an IR blaster at all. Instead, they connect to remote controls via Bluetooth

This varies from model to model, so when in doubt, check your smart TV’s model information to find out if you can use an IR remote with it. 

Can You Use a Universal Remote on a Non-Smart TV?

Universal remotes work through an IR sensor, which all non-smart TVs are equipped with. 

So, as long as you enter the right code during setup, you should have no problem using a universal remote on a non-smart TV from any of these brands:

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