What is an HDMI MHL Cable?
MHL stands for Mobile High-Definition Link. It is an industry standard for Android smartphones that can be connected to display devices such as TVs, monitors, and projectors. Devices built with ports that are MHL-ready work a bit differently than the “standard” version of those same ports, enabling extra features and functionality.
How does MHL Work?
Most handheld electronics are built with some sort of USB port. This can be Micro USB 2.0, Micro USB 3.0, or USB-C depending on the device and its age. Most of the time, people use these ports to just recharge their phones/tablets or sometimes to move pictures, videos, and other data between the phone/tablet and a computer. The issue old phones ran into here was that USB ports are designed to transmit data, not audio/video. At the same time, the USB port was the best option for getting photos and videos stored on a phone onto bigger screens.
MHL was the solution developed to circumvent this problem. Created in a joint project by Nokia, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and Silicon Image, MHL was first introduced on the Samsung Galaxy S II in 2011. This variant of USB cable was designed to work with video signals, namely HDMI, without needing a separate adapter.
Is My Phone MHL Compatible?
MHL’s official website has a list of every manufactured device officially rated as MHL compatible. This includes mobile devices (smartphones/tablets), televisions & monitors, home theater systems, vehicles, and a few miscellaneous devices that have been manufactured over the years (namely MHL adapters). Even if your device is not on the official list, it may still have been made to MHL standards. Check the device’s specs to confirm whether or not it is MHL-ready.
Another factor here is that MHL is only available for Micro USB 2.0 (usually just called Micro USB) devices. There are two different versions of Micro USB, one with 5-pins and the other with 11-pins inside the connector. The 11-pin version is older and uses the extra pins for the power (electricity) it needs to function. The newer 5-pin version does not have this requirement. If you have the 5-pin version and need to convert it to 11-pin for compatibility with an older device, there is an adapter for that.
Many manufacturers have opted to cut MHL compatibility in favor of wireless connections on newer phones. USB-C, which has begun replacing Micro USB 2.0, can also support video connections by default and does not need an MHL equivalent. Note that while USB-C can do this, it is not guaranteed to. Check the device specs to see whether the USB-C port supports video. But for users with older phones or who own a TV, monitor, or projector that does not have wireless capabilities, neither of these facts do much good.
How do I use an MHL Adapter?
After determining that a device is MHL compatible, it can be connected to a television using an MHL adapter. Start by plugging the USB end into your smartphone/tablet. This converts the USB port on the phone into an HDMI port. Simply plug one end of an HDMI cable into the other side of the MHL adapter and the other end of the HDMI cable into the TV/monitor/projector. MHL adapters also support recharging, so a handheld device running out of battery life while using the adapter will not be a problem (note: this does require a secondary auxiliary cable).
ShowMeCables offers the MHL adapter as well as any HDMI cables users may need to go with it. Have questions about the MHL adapter or any of our other products? You can reach our Sales team at 1-888-519-505 or Sales@ShowMeCables.com