We can all agree that smartphones are quickly becoming the only device we need to carry around in our daily life, whether it’s for making calls, listening to music, taking photos, navigating, and even illuminating an area when necessary, thanks to the built-in flashlight.
That being said, while it’s possible to find the most commonly utilized features, such as the ones we have mentioned above, on every smartphone, some of the less common utilities may not always be available on each device.
In today’s article, our topic will be IR blasters, in particular, which are pieces of hardware that make it possible to send infrared signals to control IR-compatible equipment, such as TVs, and whether iPhones have them included in their hardware.
So, do iPhones have IR (infrared) blasters?
Unfortunately, iPhones, regardless of the model, don’t come with built-in IR (infrared) blasters, meaning that it will not be possible to send the infrared signals that allow you to control IR-compatible equipment from your iPhone, even if an app claims that you can.
In the following sections, we will discuss the support for IR blasters on iPhones in more detail, find out whether it’s possible to add an IR blaster to an iPhone externally, and learn more about smartphones that come with built-in IR blasters.
Do iPhones Have IR (Infrared) Blasters?
If you find yourself having to control IR-compatible equipment frequently, having your iPhone come with a built-in IR blaster would definitely be a blessing, as it would practically remove the need to carry a separate remote control device.
While the iPhone comes with many outstanding features, the capability to send infrared signals is not one of them, as the device is not equipped with the hardware (which is known as an IR blaster) that makes it physically possible to send signals to devices with IR receivers.
Even though the exact reason behind Apple not opting to include IR blasters in the hardware of the iPhones is not precisely known, infrared technology being considered legacy and an IR blaster not being necessary for operating any of the devices in the Apple ecosystem are the most likely ones that come to mind.
Is It Possible to Add an IR Blaster to an iPhone?
Since it’s possible to find IR blaster attachments that allow you to bring this functionality to your smartphone, the question of whether it’s possible to do the same thing for an iPhone comes to mind, as compatibility can be a complicated topic with iPhones in some cases.
The good news is that it’s indeed possible to bring the functionality of sending infrared signals to your iPhone by utilizing an IR blaster dongle that plugs into your device and the application that the dongle comes with, which provides the interface that allows you to send the signals according to your needs.
As IR blaster dongles are available in the form of 3.5-mm jacks (headphone port), Lightning (charging port), and USB-C (rumored to be the standard iPhone charging port format in the future), you should have no problem with finding one that is compatible with your needs and the ports of your iPhone.
Perhaps the best part of using your iPhone as an IR blaster is the fact that you can find a database of virtual remotes that make it possible for your chosen device’s remote control to be displayed on the screen in a fully operational form without the need for any extra setup, unlike a traditional IR remote, which requires a setup process that is specific to the device before it can be used.
While having to attach the dongle whenever it becomes necessary to send infrared signals and removing it once its job is done can become slightly tedious over time, it definitely beats having to carry a separate, larger IR remote that is also less convenient to use or having to switch to a different smartphone, especially considering that the dongles are quite small and easy to carry.
Are There Smartphones with Built-In IR Blasters?
Even though an external attachment technically allows you to add an IR blaster to your iPhone, having to carry this attachment around and having to plug it into and unplug it from your iPhone won’t exactly provide the most convenient experience, especially if you will need the IR blaster frequently.
While infrared technology is considered legacy, it is indeed possible to find smartphones that come with built-in IR blasters, with popular brands such as Xiaomi and Huawei even opting to keep the IR blaster hardware present in some of their newest devices.
Xiaomi, in particular, seems to be quite consistent with keeping the IR blaster hardware available for all the smartphones they bring out, which is something to keep in mind if you’re in the market for a new smartphone with the capability to send infrared signals.
That being said, as it’s entirely possible for the IR blaster hardware to be excluded from some of the smartphones that these brands release, we highly recommend double-checking that the functionality exists before purchasing a new device.
Finally, it’s also worth mentioning the number of IR-compatible devices around us is quickly decreasing, with smart devices that use more advanced protocols, such as Bluetooth, taking over, meaning that we can most likely expect to see more and more smartphone manufacturers eventually phasing the IR blaster out of their devices in the near future.
While an IR blaster is not a hardware feature that most users require on their smartphone, it’s one that can definitely come in handy in particular scenarios where it becomes necessary to control an IR-compatible device.
To summarize, even though the iPhone does not come with a built-in IR blaster, it’s possible to make your iPhone capable of sending infrared signals to your IR-compatible devices by attaching an external IR blaster dongle to either the headphone port or the charging port of your device.
While it’s indeed possible to find smartphones that directly include IR blasters in their hardware, which makes the whole process much more straightforward, we have found that having to use a dongle isn’t too much of an inconvenience when compared to the alternatives of carrying a separate IR remote or purchasing a new smartphone.
Mark’s first real encounter with tech was when he had to format his computer with Windows 98 around the age of 6 to quickly get back to playing Heroes of Might and Magic III without having to send the computer in for a repair, which he strangely found to be rather enjoyable since it was a new challenge for him at the time.
While he has always been particularly interested in the software side of things, which eventually led to him becoming a software developer, he enjoys keeping up with the advancements in consumer electronics and smart home technology when he’s not busy coding.