Use phone’s unlimited data plan to stream movies on TV

19

By Chris Guld, GeeksOnTour.com
Many of us have data plans on our phones that have Unlimited on-device data. What this means is that as long as you are viewing online media on your phone, you can view as many hours as you want. But, if you turn on the hotspot feature for your other devices to share that data, there are definite limits and associated charges. Can you use your phone to stream movies on your TV?

The problem

So, let’s say you want to watch a Netflix movie. Just pull it up on your phone and watch, right? That’s kind of hard for other people to look over your shoulder, and it looks SO much better to watch and listen on your TV’s big screen.

If you use your Smart TV’s Netflix, it will need to connect to Wi-Fi and that will cost you. Or, if you cast your phone’s screen to the TV using something like Chromecast, that is still using Wi-Fi.

Here’s the answer

Play the movie on your phone, and connect your phone to the TV with a HDMI cable. In that case, the TV is just acting as an external monitor to your phone – no Wi-Fi involved! Your phone is streaming movies on your TV.

What you need

  • A mobile device with an unlimited data plan: All iOS devices can mirror. My Samsung Note 9 Android phone can mirror. I’m not sure about other Android phones – you’ll have to just try it or look it up in your phone’s documentation, or read the guide linked below.
  • An HDMI cable for your TV
  • An adapter for your phone to the HDMI. The iPhone will need a HDMI -> Lightning adapter. My Samsung Note 9 uses an HDMI -> USB-C adapter

Now all you need is the popcorn!

Note: For lots more information on how to best use your phone for streaming video, check out this guide from our friends at MobileInternetInfo.com.

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She and her husband, Jim, produce a free weekly YouTube show called What Does This Button Do?  They have been Fulltime RVers, popular seminar presenters at RV Rallies, and regular contributors to RVTravel.com, for many years.

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Brian Doc Burry
24 days ago

We bought the HDMI cord to the lightening end that connects to our IPhone, and we have the apps for; Netflix, Prime, Hulu, Acorn and Utube which with our unlimited cell phone plan, all work perfectly mirroring whatever is on our cell to the TV! We have three tv’s and bought 3 cords, one for each tv, and just leave them plugged to the tv’s for ease of viewing. We got rid of Dish Network and really enjoy this free system. We never use WiFi.

Jerome Friedman
24 days ago

I connected my phone to the TV, HDMI to USB-C but it didn’t work. It appears I need a smart TV… doesn’t seem like that should matter.

Tim
24 days ago

Google is the worst at blocking devices from ‘casting’ either by screen mirror or cable.

I upgraded the family to all Pixel phones (several models) all USB C. Google completely blocks using an HDMI cable with USB C (for no good reason – just control of you the customer).

Also casting or screen mirroring is drastically limited. Only works on apps that they want you to use (youtube etc).

I get around this by using my laptop as the HDMI or caster device. I can get it to work almost everytime. Of course this sometimes qualifies as hotspot usage.

Tim
24 days ago
Reply to  Tim

Regarding Comcast (Xfinity). Yes they often block casting on a TV if you are not on your home WIFI and entirely on some shows and networks. You can always watch on a ‘device’ instead of a TV (unless it is one of the few completely blocked shows). Of course I then use the laptop and the hdmi cable.

Comcast won’t let you watch recording until the show is finished recording on the dvr.

Comcast & Amazon Prime (and maybe others) both allow you to download (even from your dvr) so you can download a ton of stuff and watch whenever you want {no internet needed).

Terry Tauriainen
3 months ago

I also have a Samsung Note 9 and have Mirror streamed movies, but since November I have been unable to do it with Netflix. I called them and they said it was my device, but my device mirrors with other programs. Any ideas on what might have happened with my note 9 and netflix?

Steve Comstock
3 months ago

Um… What about using AirPlay, too? No adapter required. You just need a TV that works with AirPlay, and most of the recent smart TVs do.

Matt Johnson
3 months ago

Regarding streaming movies from your phone. It’s not quite that simple. If you are a Comcast subscriber from your bricks and sticks home you can watch any Comcast channel that you get at home on your device. But Comcast has somehow blocked mirroring from one device to a TV. I don’t know why they do this because I am paying for a service that I Definitely cannot use now.

Peggy
3 months ago

We have been using this adapter for our iPhones for the last two years with great success. We stream Netflix, YouTube, Prime and Disney regularly. However there are a handful of apps that don’t allow the use of the adapter. I suggest getting a long HDMI cable that will reach your seating area.

Jim
3 months ago

A couple of years ago I used the HMDI to USB-C and it worked fine transmitting both video and sound to my system. Unfortunately, the Samsung phone sound was also active and if I muted the entire sound system was muted. So, despite having a really good sound system I also had a tinny phone sound. Is there a workaround?

Jane
3 months ago

Yep, this is how we do it.

Betty Dagle
3 months ago

Thanks, I was wondering if this was possible. And if I can get a network connection, I wouldn’t be using data.

J. Stiner
3 months ago

Great tip, but . . . I bought an (expensive) HDMI adapter specifically made for my Samsung S9+. I tried to use it to watch a Yahoo Sports “live” football game. Would not work. The message said something like “can only be viewed on phone.” What else will NOT work from a phone to TV via HDMI? Is there any workaround for this?

Julie
3 months ago

I download a few movies to my phone when at home, over wifi. Then I use your method to play them on the camper tv. No usage of data at all!