Tue. May 21st, 2024

How To Get IR Blaster on Your Android Phone: The Super Guide

universal remote control Infrared transmitter IR blaster
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What is IR blaster in mobile? IR blaster means Infrared blaster. The IR stands for Infrared or infra-red. An Infrared blaster or IR blaster allows you to use your Android phone or tablet as a remote control, which you can use to control your TV or other devices that supports IR, such as audio receivers, air conditioners, CD players, among others.

Before you can start using Infra-Red blaster on your Android device, you need to first check your device to know if it supports IR blaster or not. In other words, you need to know if it has the IR hardware component built-in or not.

Does your phone have a IR blaster?

Most Android phones nowadays are not designed with an IR hardware component. Not even the most expensive Samsung Galaxy phone and Apple iPhone premium flagships costing thousands of dollars have it. You will find this feature on old model phones, and just a few new models. If you happen to have an old model cell phone, you still need to check if it actually comes with an IR blaster. Some modern Xiaomi and Unihertz smartphones come with an infrared port built in, too.

Unihertz Titan Slim has an IR blaster
The Unihertz Titan Slim has an infrared blaster and app built in.

List of old phones with IR

Some old phones with IR blaster included the Ericsson R380, Ericsson R320, Motorola A008 Accompli, Nokia 9210 Communicator, Nokia 9500 Communicator, and Nokia E90 Communicator, among others.

Why phones do not have IR blasters anymore

Back in the late 1900s and early 2000s when infrared blasters were still popular among flagship phones, it was because that was the predominant way of transferring files and data between two devices. If you wanted to send a photo from one cell phone to another, you beamed it via infrared. If you wanted to share one phone’s Internet connection with another, you did it through infrared. It was slow going, though, as infrared does not have the capacity to transmit heavy files or for high-speed transmission.

As soon as faster and more capable means of short-range wireless data transmission were developed, infrared was no longer needed in phones and manufacturers dumped it. The reason why infrared is seeing a resurgence today is because it is in use for controlling many home appliances, like TV, air conditioner, fridge, microwave, home theatre systems, etc. This is a new use case that does not involve heavy file/data transfer. Having an IR blaster in a phone is now a huge convenience: you will not have to drop your phone to use the remote controller.

How to know if your phone has an IR blaster

Before you start downloading the app that will let you make use of it, you have to first check your phone to ascertain if it has an IR hardware component built-in. This is what makes IR blaster work. There are two ways to know if it supports it or not.

• Check the top edge of your phone. If you see a black circle or rectangle plastic or indent, then it means your phone has an IR blaster.

• If the method above is somewhat confusing since some cell phones can have a different design, you can install a tester app that will let you know if you have an IR blaster or not. Download Phone Tester (hardware info) for Android devices. Go to the “Communication peripherals” tab. You’ll see an IR section indicating if it is supported or not. 

• You can make a quick search online to know if IR blaster is supported on your phone or not. If it is an old design, you might get a more accurate answer on online forums.

• You can check your phone’s user manual, but I consider this to be a long process because you’ll have to be turning pages after pages, and you will be squinting your eyes to see the tiny texts used in writing cell phone manuals.

Can you install IR blaster in your phone?

If your smartphone does not have an IR hardware component built-in, you can add an IR blaster to it by buying any of the available portable, universal infra-red adaptors or dongles in the market. They come with a 3.5mm audio jack to plug into your Android smartphone, or a lightning port connector for iPhone. So, yes; you can add an IR blaster to your Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, or Apple iPhone cell phone.

Note that there are sometimes compatibility issues with these IR dongles, and there is no guarantee that one of these will work with your device. But they are quite affordable and are available from as little as $17 from a wide range of stores, including Amazon US and UK websites, so it can’t hurt to give it a try.

A portable universal IR blaster is how you can add an IR hardware component to your phone.
If your phone does not have an IR hardware component built-in, you can buy an IR dongle on the Amazon US and UK websites.

How to use IR Blaster on your Android device

Once you’re certain that your cell phone has an IR blaster, or you have bought and plugged in a portable infra-red controller, you can now proceed to set it up and start using it to control devices that support IR Blaster. Here is a step by step process on how to set it up —

1. Install IR Universal Remote app

Before downloading any app, you can check the list of apps on your phone to see if you have a built-in app named IR blaster or Remote Control, if you don’t find any, then you can proceed to download the app.

You will see different apps on the Google Play Store that allow you to use your phone as a remote control. You can opt for Mi Remote Controller for Xiaomi phones (download here) or Universal Remote Controller; they are some of the widely used ones. Some apps are for specific brands, so make sure you check their description before downloading them.

2. Launch the app

After launching it, follow the on-screen instructions on how to select the right IR blaster for you. The app will also request to be granted permission to certain functions of your cell phone; you’ll have to grant it permission for it to work well.

3. Select the device

You will also have to select the device you want to control. There is a list of different video and audio devices that are supported. Depending on the app, you might have to choose the manufacturer of the device then the model so it can connect.

4. Enter Universal code

The app might also request that you input the universal code for the component. These codes can be found on the internet. Just input your device model and “remote control code”, and you’ll see the code among the search results. To find your code, you could also go to a website like codesforuniversalremotes.com as an alternative.

6. Follow the on-screen instructions

After choosing your phone manufacturer and model, as well as inputting the code, a set of instructions will be given to you so you can successfully set up the app. Different apps and devices require different methods to set up certain functions of the app. Just make sure to follow and do everything in the instructions correctly.

7. Add multiple devices

Most apps allow you to add multiple devices. However, this feature isn’t usually available for free apps. Free apps that have this feature have a limited number of devices that can be added. To be able to add more devices, you’ll have to switch to a paid app.

8. Start using it

Once you have successfully set it up, your phone can now start working as a remote control. Point it at your TV or other devices if you want to change channels, increase or decrease the volume, and so on.

Make sure you always point the IR blaster to the device or else it might not work. You’ll find the IR blaster at the top of your cell phone. So you’ll be pointing the top of your phone to the device you want to control, and then press the keys on your phone screen to perform the action you want.

9. Test the app keys

You have to test all the keys of the app to ascertain that they are all working. If one of the keys isn’t working, this indicates that the app isn’t fully compatible with your cell phone, so you’ll have to download another app and try that one.

The best thing to do is to download an IR blaster app specifically made for your phone if you can see such an app. Also, make sure the app has all the functions that an actual remote will have.

Portable universal Infra-red adaptor for smartphones

How to use IR Blaster For iPhone, iPad To Remote Control TV, AC, etc

To use your iPhone as a TV remote, buy an infrared dongle with Lightning Port support and plug it to the Lightning port of your iPhone or iPad. Download and install the dongle’s app, pair the IR dongle with your iPhone by going to Settings > Bluetooth. Launch the app and you are good to go.

List of Phones with IR Blaster

Unihertz Tank Review
Unihertz Tank

The list of phones with IR blaster include Unihertz smartphones and high-end smartphones by Xiaomi. These two brands are your best bet if you want an infra-red blaster on your phone. Phones like Unihertz Titan Slim and Unihertz Tank have infrared blaster and app built in.

  1. Xiaomi and Redmi smartphones (excluding the entry-level models)
  2. Unihertz smartphones
  3. Newer TECNO Camon devices e.g. Camon 30 series

As at the time of writing (and updating this article in 2023), there are no Samsung phones with IR blaster in 2023.

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