If there is an underrated feature on modern smartphones, it is the ability to use a phone as a remote comtrol.
I started out with mobile phones in the era when infra-red port was a fairly common feature in phones.
You see, back in the early 2000s, infra-red was the only means to tether your phone wirelessly. If you needed to use your phone’s internet on your PC and didn’t have the cable, your only other option was infra-red.
Fast forward to 2021 and infra-red blasters are no longer common on phones. But one smartphone brand has kept the legacy alive – Xiaomi.
Pick up any Xiaomi smartphone (that includes Redmi phones) and it has an infra-red port.
What appliances can you use your phone as a remote control for?
From the above screenshot from my smartphone, you can see a list of appliances that I can use my phone to control.
The list includes regular TV, Android TV, fans, smart box, set-top box, a/c, DVD player, camera, and more.
What is even nicer is that I am able to set it up to work with multiple appliances. For example, living room TV, the TV at dad’s place, the office TV, and even the random hotel room TV when I am travelling.
I am not sure why infra-red blasters are not more common on smartphones, because this is a really cool feature to have.
It is also a great prank tool. I can secretly mute the TV in a room and have everyone else wondering what happened to the TV’s audio.
Not a lot of people are expecting that anyone is able to use their smartphone to control the television set.
As already mentioned earlier, Xiaomi is the only mainstream manufacturer that still puts infra-red blasters in their smartphones by default.
That means if you want to be able to use your phone as a remote, you most likely have to buy a Xiaomi, Redmi, or POCO smartphone.
What of WiFi?
Other than that, the only other way to use your phone as a remote is via WiFi. But in this case, the TV or other appliances you want to control must have WiFi and be connected to the same network as the phone in question.
Techies will love that and have a thrill setting it up ,but I doubt that non-techie people will be thrilled about it. Plus, the available compatible appliances are still pretty limited.
In the case of infra-red, all modern TV sets have it and will work with it. It is what regular remote controls use.
What kind of television sets, A/C’s, and appliances can you control with a phone via infra-red? All kinds and all brands – Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic, HiSense, etc.
Infra-red is a well established wireless communication standard that every appliance manufacturer deploys in their products.
Do you need to download an app to use this cool feature? Not at all. At least, not on Xiaomi phones. There is an app called Mi Remote that is pre-installed on Xiaomi, Redmi, and POCO phones that allows you to add, configure, and control appliances.
What other brands let you use your phone as a remote?
Besides Xiaomi phones, are there any other phones with an IR blaster that are made by other brands?
Well, yes; there are. Some Huawei flagships have IR ports. These include Huawei P30 Pro and Huawei Mate 20 Pro.
TCL also has phones with an IR blaster. One of their latest models, TCL 10 Pro, is an example.
LG also has a few smartphones you can use as a remote control. As already mentioned before, there are not many phones around today that have an infra-red blasters.
No; you won’t find one on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone or an iPhone.
Can you install an IR blaster in your phone? Not at all. You can’t. It has to be built into it.
However, you can buy a USB Infra-red accessory to add that feature to your phone. It works by plugging it into your phone’s USB port a d then installing a compatible app from your phone’s app store.
I am not sure I would enjoy the experience much, because I would have to keep turning my phone around to point it’s bottom end at the appliance I want to control.
But, hey; it is better than nothing; right?
So, if you would like to give that a try, check Amazon, AliExpress, and other retailers for available infrared adapters and place your order.
I really do think that more smartphone brands should add the feature to their phones so more people can easily use their phone as a remote.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.