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

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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.

##RVT985

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Terry Tauriainen
27 days 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month ago

Yep, this is how we do it.

Betty Dagle
1 month 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
1 month 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
1 month 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!