How to Use an IR Blaster on Your Phone to Control Devices Remotely

Featured image of how to use a smartphone as IR blaster remote to control devices.

Some Android phone models have an Infrared (IR) Blaster module that allows you to use your phone as a universal remote for your televisions, set-top boxes, air-conditioners, and entertainment systems. Currently, the majority of Android models don’t support a built-in IR blaster, and no iOS device supports this feature. This tutorial shows how to use an IR blaster on your mobile phone to remotely control devices, whether or not your smartphone carries this feature.

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How to Check Whether Your Phone Has IR Blaster

The IR blaster is only available in very few Android smartphones. You can use the methods below to check whether your Android phone has an IR blaster.

1. Physically Check for an Infrared Port

If your device supports it, you should see an infrared port at the phone’s top edge. It should look like a tiny circular or rectangular LED. Refer to your device’s user guide or manual to confirm whether your phone has it.

IR blaster visible on a Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone with tiny infrared port.
Image source: PxFuel

2. Using IR Test App on Android

In some phone models, the IR port may be hidden under a plastic or glass strip. You can use the following app to check for you.

The IR Test app is extremely reliable, as it gives results quickly by scanning your device’s hardware. We tested it on a Google Pixel 4a and found that it didn’t have the feature.

You don't have an IR blaster message in IR Tester app for Android (Pixel 4a).

3. Using a Mobile Device Specifications Website

You may also refer to a phone specifications website to check for IR blaster availability, or simply do a search for “your phone model specification“. For any phone model, look for an entry called “Infrared port.” If it says “Yes,” it means the phone model includes the built-in IR blaster.

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Which Phones Have IR Blaster?

The following phones have an IR blaster feature (not an exhaustive list):

Remember: none of the Apple devices have IR blaster, but you can still use it as a remote for Apple TV.

  • Samsung: Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Note 4, S4, S4 Mini, S4 Zoom, S5, S6, S6 Active
  • LG: G Flex, G Flex 2, Pro 2, G5, V10
  • Huawei: Honor 6 Plus, Honor 7, Honor 8, Honor 9, Mate 9, Mate 10, Mate 20, Mate 30, Mate 40, Mate X, Mate X2, P10, P20, P30, P40, P50
  • Redmi:/Xiaomi: Note 3, K40, Note 11, Note 12, Note 12 Pro, 13 Ultra 5G, Note 10T 5G, Note 12 Turbo Harry Potter Edition
  • Oppo: X6 Pro, Find X6, Find X6 Pro
  • Vivo: X90, X90 5G, X90 Pro Plus 5G, V27 Pro, V27e, T2 5G, T2x 5G
  • OnePlus: Ace 2V, 11R, 11R 5G

How to Use an IR Blaster on Your Phone

You can use an IR blaster on your Android/iOS phone, whether or not the model includes an IR port, through the following two methods.

1. Using Infrared Remote-Control Apps on Supported Devices

If your Android phone has an IR blaster, your device should have a preinstalled remote-control app. You just have to select any electric appliance that supports an IR remote, such as a television, air conditioner, or music system, from the app, and point the IR hole near the appliance. This will add the remote control.

A very similar method requires you to download and install a universal remote app that will use your phone’s built-in IR functionality:

  1. Select the icon for the end device that will be controlled from your phone.
Universal app for infrared remotes - select TV option in Android.
  1. Point your phone’s IR hole at the device, such as a television. Tap the big red button to check whether you can control it.
Tap a button to point phone to control the end device using IR technology.

Note that even if your phone has an IR blaster, you may not be able to control a secondary device with it, as your phone’s specifications may not be compatible with the actual electronics in your home. It makes the following method easier to follow, irrespective of the smartphone you own.

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2. If Your Phone Doesn’t Have IR Blaster

To convert your phone to a universal remote, you will need an “external IR blaster” device. They are usually cheap and can potentially save you a fortune. External IR blasters connect with Android and iPhone through third-party applications.

The following demo is for a ten-year-old air conditioner unit, which we were able to connect to a Samsung Galaxy Android smartphone using an external IR blaster.

  1. Connect the external IR blaster to its charging cable and plug outlet.
What IR blaster looks like with its smart plug connection.
  1. The IR blaster manual will suggest downloading the app on Google Play or App Store. Register and log in to the app.
IR blaster app login screen on Android phone.
  1. Find the option to add a new remote, which is usually indicated by a “+” sign or something similar.
Add universal Wi-Fi remote to IR Blaster app on an Android phone.
  1. If your IR blaster device has a QR code that needs to be scanned, use your phone’s camera to initialize the installation.
Scan QR code to be added in a universal Wi-Fi remote device on Android app.
  1. Connect the IR blaster to a power strip or external outlet.
IR blaster device plugged in with lights blinking on.
  1. The IR blaster has to be reset first so that it can connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network. Press the reset button and wait for the lights to blink rapidly or slowly, as instructed in the user manual.
  1. Follow the on-screen instructions until you reach the stage where you need to select the device type.
Add device type as AC in IR blaster app for Android.
  1. Our aim is to replace the older air-conditioning remote. Many of these consumer electronic devices have been using IR technology for a long time.
Old outdated remote to be replaced by IR blaster device.

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  1. If asked to select the remote type (with/without LCD display), choose the option for your model.
Remote type without LCD display selected in IR blaster app for Android.
  1. The appliance remote should be quickly added to the app. The IR blaster needs to remain plugged in to operate the remote.
AC remote added in IR blaster app for Android on its homescreen.
  1. You can add as many remotes as you want for different electronic devices, such as televisions, set-top boxes, all-in-one entertainment systems, and Bluetooth speakers.
List of remotes displayed in IR blaster app for Android.
  1. Optional: if you are using an Alexa Echo or other smart speaker, you can further transfer the newly added remote to the Alexa app on Android/iOS through the “Skills & Games” feature.
AC remote added through IR blaster visible on Alexa app in Android.
  1. You can use your voice to control the remote appliance: “Alexa, turn on/off the air conditioner,” or “Alexa, increase air conditioner temperature to XX degrees.” Of course, you can also do it using your Android/iOS apps.
Using an IR blaster device from Android app to control air-conditioning remotely.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are IR Blasters no longer common in smartphones?

IR blasters have become surprisingly uncommon in the last few years. They’re not available on the latest phones, except for a few models by Vivo, Redmi, and Huawei.

A possible reason phone manufacturers may have discontinued IR blasters is that infrared rays have been found to be harmful to the human body wherever there is continuous exposure. As most of us carry our phones with us all the time, that may introduce a possible risk.

However, if you use an external IR blaster remote device, and control it further using your phone apps or Alexa/Google Assistant, that will eliminate any possibility of infrared rays exposure.

Can I use my phone as a remote without IR blaster?

Yes, you can use your phone as a remote even without IR blaster. On an Android, you can use the Google TV app or one of the third-party apps that support your Android TV model.

Can I install IR blaster on my phone?

You can’t download or install IR blaster through apps. It’s not very easy to install the IR transceiver physically, as the device hardware on a smartphone is connected to its embedded OS and not accessible to end users. It’s much easier to use an external IR blaster.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral
Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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