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In this shopping guide, SPY.com reviews the best iPhone projectors based on rigorous product testing. When reviewing tech products like this, we’re always honest about both the benefits and the drawbacks we discover during the testing process. Below, we’ve shared the top projectors for iPhones as well as some insight into our testing process.
Yes, we see you glued to your iPhone, laughing at some craziness on TikTok or YouTube, or maybe even streaming the newest episodes of The Boys or Stranger Things. At some point, you may want to share those funny clips or favorite TV shows with a group, but having people huddle around your iPhone is ineffective and may not give everyone the best view.
A quick way to share your screen is to grab an iPhone projector so the entire room can share the amusement. A cursory search on Amazon for “Phone projectors comes up with more than 700 hits, and the vast majority are not worth your time and money. So how can you tell the difference and know that you’re buying one of the best projectors for iPhone users? SPY tests many gadgets, from televisions to home theater projectors, and we’ve been hard at working testing the top products in this category.
And after testing dozens of projectors from brands like Kodak, Nebula by Anker and ViewSonic, we’ve narrowed down a list of the top options for your home. Keep reading to find the best iPhone projectors of 2022.
The Best Projectors for iPhone At a Glance
1. Best Overall: Nebula by Anker Capsule Max — $469.99 at Amazon
2. Best Splurge: XGIMI Elfin Smart Projector — $649.00 on Amazon
3. Sturdiest Portable: Kodak Luma 350 Portable Smart Projector — $299.99 on Amazon
4. Best Design: ViewSonic M1 Mini+ Ultra-Portable LED Projector — $199.99 on Amazon
5. Best Budget: GammaBai Joy Mini Projector (2022 Upgraded) — $139.99 on Amazon
6. Most Compact: AAXA LED Pico Micro Video Projector — $109.00 on Amazon
1. Nebula by Anker Capsule Max
Best For: Anyone wanting a portable, easy-to-use iPhone projector
Why We Chose It: Anker’s growing brand reputation for quality small electronics
Buy: Nebula by Anker Capsule Max $469.99
Buy: Nebula by Anker Capsule Max at Walmart $469.99
The Nebula by Anker Capsule Max is slightly bigger than a soda can (OK, maybe a tall boy), but it packs a tremendous punch. The cylindrical design captivated us upon unboxing, and then the setup and super-intuitive interface screen won us over. Once we were wirelessly hooked up to the iPhone via the built-in Chromecast, the picture was sharp and easily adjusted by the Capsule Max’s autofocus feature.
Beyond being a great iPhone projector, it also has every app we wanted or needed already built into the Android TV 9.0 interface. The sound was what blew us away. It was amazing to hear how it filled the room, especially coming from such a small package. And the Nebula Capsule Max lived up to its advertised 2.5-hour battery life.
The only downside was that it seemed to struggle with light interference. At 200 lumens it stands out among smaller projectors, and yet the picture, while super clear, was only truly bright in a pitch-black setting. Still, for a small projector, this covers all the bases.
- Fantastic sound
- Easy setup and connection to iPhone; excellent interface
- Autofocus and keystone adjustment paired with sharp 720p resolution
- Cylindrical design and size make it easily portable
- Even at 200 lumens struggled in a dimly lit room
- High price point
- Resolution: 720p
- Lumens: 200 ANSI
- Contrast ratio: 600:1
- Size and weight: 3.15 x 3.15 x 5.91 inches, 1.5 lb
2. XGIMI Elfin Smart Projector
Best For: Large projector performance in a smaller device
Why We Chose It: Not all iPhone projectors need to be small and inexpensive
Buy: XGIMI Elfin Smart Projector $649.00
In a world of pocket-sized iPhone projectors, we decided to splurge and go (relatively) big with the XGIMI Elfin Smart Projector. It’s not huge by any means at just under 2 pounds and 7.6 x 7.6 x 1.9 inches. It’s not palm-sized like some of the portable projectors on this list, but it still fits easily into a messenger bag.
The Elfin Smart Projector threw us a curve right out of the box when it required us to install the Air Screen app from the built-in Google Play Store to connect our iPhone via AirPlay. But it was a brief inconvenience because once we were connected, we loved what we saw and heard. The 800 lumens are far and away the brightest in this class, and the auto focus and auto keystone correction — making the image perfectly rectangular and not trapezoidal and distorted — had us viewing a sharp 1080p image within minutes. Built-in Harmon Kardon speakers were solid but surprisingly lacked the volume and crispness of the Nebula Capsule Max.
This is definitely a splurge. At $650, you can easily bump up into the larger class of projectors. But the XGIMI Elfin Smart Projector delivers on the price point and is great if you want one of the best projectors for iPhone and as an everyday streaming and gaming device.
- Bright, crisp picture, even with some light interference
- Easy setup and connection to iPhone
- Auto keystone correction and focus
- Unit runs quietly compared to other smaller projectors
- Must install Air Screen app from Google Play Store for AirPlay to work
- Resolution: 1080p; supports 2K
- Lumens: 800 ANSI
- Contrast ratio: 1000:1
- Size and weight: 7.6 x 7.6 x 1.9 inches, 1.98 lb
3. Kodak Luma 350 Portable Smart Projector
Best For: Reliable performance and durability
Why We Chose It: Super portability and Kodak brand name
Buy: Kodak Luma 350 Portable Smart Projector $299.99 (orig. $349.99) 14% OFF
We wanted to love the Kodak Luma 350 all the way to the top of this list, and it’s so close to being the best iPhone projector for 2022. The Kodak brand name on a small, very sturdy, ergonomically attractive unit like the Luma 350 had us thinking it might be a slam dunk.
And to be fair, once we got it up and running and connected it was a super high-quality experience. The 150 lumens of brightness isn’t going to work in a partially lit room, but that’s not what small iPhone projectors are intended to do. But it was plenty bright in a dark setting, and the 1080p resolution came through well.
Therein lies the rub — once we got it connected, we found that the Luma 350’s interface is maddening. Even after we typed in our WiFi password, it did not want to play nice, with the wireless setup taking over an hour. However, we still chose it because you can skip the wireless setup, buy the Lightning to HDMI adapter and the setup is seamless. Once connected, the Kodak Luma 350 is truly great because of its clear picture and crisp sound.
- Small size
- 150-lumens brightness from a tiny unit
- Frustrating interface
- Resolution: 480p
- Lumens: 150 ANSI
- Contrast ratio: 3500:1
- Size and weight: 1.1 x 4.4 x 4.4 inches, 0.8 lb.
4. ViewSonic M1 Mini+ Ultra-Portable LED Projector
Best For: Drama-free setup, cool design perks
Why We Chose It: Like the Kodak, the Viewsonic has a small, compact size but an even smaller price tag.
Buy: ViewSonic M1 Mini+ Ultra Portable Projector $199.99
You can easily mistake the ViewSonic M1 Mini+ Ultra Portable Projector for the Kodak Luma 350 at first glance. Same shape, virtually identical size. And if you’re looking to spend a little less, the M1 Mini+ has its advantages over the Kodak. Still, if you’re looking for the best iPhone projector, we found that the Kodak narrowly has the edge. However, for the money, the ViewSonic M1 Mini+ is a solid option for Apple users.
Firstly, the setup was far easier than the Kodak Luma 350. The ViewSonic has no built-in buttons on the unit, instead coming with a very tiny remote. Don’t lose the remote, otherwise you can’t control the ViewSonic. That’s a drawback, but even then the setup advantage goes to the ViewSonic in both ease and time required. Secondly, we like the built-in stand that also doubles as a handle. The ViewSonic is a short-throw projector best positioned close to the wall or screen, and propping it up evenly would otherwise be problematic.
The disadvantage is in the brightness — the ViewSonic M1 Mini+ only throws 50 lumens, a quarter of the brightness of the Kodak. Even when positioned within 3 feet of the wall or screen, that’s a small number. Still, if you’re looking for a super portable projector you can throw in your pocket and hook up to your iPhone, the ViewSonic is a solid buy.
- Up and running in no time flat
- Built-in handle/stand
- Solid short-throw performance
- No control buttons on the unit, must use remote
- Only 50 lumens of brightness
- Resolution: 480p
- Lumens: 50 ANSI
- Contrast ratio: 120000:1
- Size and weight: 1.1 x 4.3 x 4.1 inches, 0.7 lb.
5. GammaBai Joy Mini Projector (2022 Upgraded)
Best For: Comprehensive connectivity
Why We Chose It: Super solid choice at a bargain price point
Buy: GammaBai Joy Mini Projector (2022 Upgrade) $139.99
We didn’t expect much from a projector at this price point, so maybe the Gammabai Joy 2022 Upgraded Mini Projector benefits from having a low bar to clear. But honestly, we liked it. It’s not tiny, weighing 3 pounds and about the size of a small home theater speaker, although the handle adds several portability points. And it’s a loud device — the fan noise can be overwhelming, so it begs for a Bluetooth speaker to augment the sound.
But the picture is solid, to the point where it outperforms far-costlier units. The Bluetooth hookup to our iPhone was a snap to secure, and it remained stable throughout YouTube videos and streaming. If you’re thinking beyond the iPhone, it’s also great for streaming sticks and gaming consoles.
- Picture significantly overperforms its price tag
- 720p native resolution and support for 1080p
- Carrying handle alleviates largish size
- Very loud fan
- Gives off a large amount of heat
- Resolution: 720p, supports 1080p
- Lumens: 120 ANSI
- Contrast ratio: 1300:1
- Size and weight: 6.61 x 5.71 x 6.65 inches, 3 lb.
6. AAXA LED Pico Micro Video Projector
Best For: Literal pocket-sized projection
Why We Chose It: To see just how small we could go
Buy: AAXA LED Pico Micro Video Projector $109.99
How low can you go when it comes to the size of a projector for your iPhone? This low: The almost impossibly small, less than a half-pound AAXA LED Pico Micro Video Projector, which is one of the most portable projectors we’ve seen.
What did we love? The included flexible tripod that easily screws and unscrews into the bottom of the unit; the clear and easily worked control panel atop the unit; and the 720p resolution, which honestly amazed us coming from such a small and light machine.
What didn’t we love as much: 25 lumens. Yes, we know what we said about small projectors having small bulbs, but this is really small. Also, the unit feels almost flimsy, so while it’s nice to be able to throw it into a coat pocket or even a shoulder bag, we worry it may break if not handled with care.
- Absolutely teeny in size, super light, portable
- Included detachable tripod
- 720p resolution, manual focus knob
- Does not work while charging
- Lightweight construction, feels fragile
How We Chose the Best iPhone Projectors
To find the best iPhone projectors of 2022, we compared the top products side by side. Each of the products was scored according to the criteria below.
Resolution and streaming: We played YouTube videos, streamed live TV, and streamed movies on each unit, in both daylight (curtains drawn) and nighttime conditions, to assess the clarity and sharpness of each unit.
Sound: We tested each unit without external speakers, sitting both in close proximity and 5 to 10 feet away from the unit, to assess volume and clarity of sound and also to see how well it could be heard over each unit’s internal fan.
Ease of setting up: We connected our iPhone 13 to each unit, both hardwired and (where applicable) Bluetooth. All units with WiFi were connected to the same home WiFi system. We tested for ease and speed of connection.
Ease of use: Beyond the initial setup we tested each unit’s interface, apps (where applicable), built-in control buttons and remote control (where applicable). We looked for ease of basic commands like play/pause/stop, volume, switching between inputs, and others.
All of these units were tested in the same room with the same iPhone 13, and in both filtered daylight and night conditions.
What to Look For When Buying iPhone Projectors
Connectivity: All the resolution and sharpness and other prominently advertised projector goodies will be useless if your iPhone can’t connect to it. It’s important to note that smaller units like the ones on this list are not all Bluetooth or WiFi enabled, so be sure to check. If they do not have Bluetooth or WiFi, you’ll need a Lightning to HDMI or Lightning to Mini HDMI adapter to make the connection.
- Important: Regardless of which projector you’re using with your iPhone, Netflix is no longer AirPlay compatible, and you must hardwire your phone to the projector to play Netflix.
Brightness: Small projectors, small bulbs. Sounds like a euphemism, but it’s not. And whether it’s DLP (digital light processing) or LCD (liquid crystal display), a small bulb is almost certainly going to struggle in a room with light interference. The number to look for is the lumens count: more lumens equals a brighter picture.
Resolution: Today’s larger, top-of-the-line projectors are armed with 4K resolution. But you can shoot lower and still enjoy a crisp picture at 720p resolution in many small, portable projectors and save yourself a pile of cash. Even some of the pocket-size projectors featured below can rock a 720p image.
Battery Life: Portable projectors run on rechargeable batteries, and you’ll want the projector to be as untethered as the iPhone. Look for how long the projector runs on a full charge so you don’t end up disappointed when it shuts down halfway through an hour-long episode of your favorite show.
You can use your iPhone projector against a bare wall and rely on its built-in sound. But some need an assist with sound boost. A portable screen is a small expense, compared to the projector, and there are many budget models readily available. Another addition that can make a big difference, is a Bluetooth speaker, make sure to check your projector can connect to one. If it does not have Bluetooth, many iPhone projectors will have a 3.5mm audio-out jack, so you can hardwire it to a portable speaker or a sound system. And don’t forget that Lightning to HDMI cable.
Why Should You Trust SPY When Shopping For the Best iPhone Projectors
SPY is always on the lookout for the latest and best tech products, and this year we have tested dozens of projectors. We’ve ranked the best home theater projectors, short-throw projectors and portable projectors, in addition to other accessories to unlock the full potential of your iPhone.
About the Author: Mike Fazioli
Mike Fazioli is an experienced freelance author, editor, and product tester for SPY.com. He indulges his inner nerd by testing and reviewing tech gadgets and gear, like the Backbone One iPhone Gaming Controller and the Nursal 24-Mode TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator. Prior to working with SPY.com, Mike worked as the managing editor for big magazine brands from Men’s Health to Car and Driver and Road & Track.
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