Long gone are the days when projectors were these large, cumbersome implements that simply had to be permanent fixtures in your office, classroom, or home entertainment center.
As of 2021, we’ve got access to a whole bunch of top-tier pocket(ish) sized projectors that will wirelessly connect to your phone or tablet and stream whatever content you throw at them.
To prove our point, we’ve assembled our list of top 5 picks for the best mini projector for iPhone. Our choices range from super-affordable all the way to premium-tier, and we’re sure you’ll find something to suit your needs.
If you’re still wondering just why would you even need or want one of these devices, here’s a list of reasons we believe they’re essentially a must-have at this point:
- Perfect for outdoor use
- Can be set up to stream content with minimal fuss
- They won’t take up a massive amount of space
- Can be moved around easily
- You can take them whenever, wherever
This means that no matter where you are, a mini-projector will allow you to stream content easily and quickly. The only thing you need is to ensure that you’ve got a surface to project onto, but any old wall will do in most cases.
Of course, the caveat to keep in mind is that mini projectors are often not nearly as powerful as full-sized alternatives. Lower projection resolution and less ideal color accuracy are a given. Still, there’s much to love here, and we’ll explain specific downsides as we go along.
Table of Contents
- Resolution: 800 x 480 (can output downsampled 1080p)
- Contrast Ratio: 2000:1
- Maximum Brightness: 2,400 lumens
- Weight: 2.1 lbs
We’ll begin with one of the most affordable mini-projectors on the market in 2021: the Vankyo Leisure 3.
It goes without saying that a sub-$100 projector foregoes a whole lot of creature comforts seasoned projector users will have been taking for granted. To that end, Leisure 3’s native resolution is limited to 480p at most, and it comes with virtually no lens adjustment features.
However, the reason we chose Vankyo’s product isn’t for its cutting-edge technology implementation, but because it’s a stellar choice for first-time projector users that want a handy and easy-to-use gadget that won’t break the bank.
Leisure 3 is wonderfully lightweight, and it’s small enough that it will easily fit in most laptop backpacks without bulging them up, or taking up valuable snack space you’re bound to need sooner or later.
The integrated speakers work, and though they can hardly hold a candle to virtually any outboard audio solution you might have, it’s just handy to have at least something available if push comes to shove.
Sadly, there’s no wireless capability available for Leisure 3: you’ll need to physically connect your iPhone to the projector using a Lightning-to-HDMI adapter. Not ideal, but it’s something you learn to live with on a projector as affordable as this Vankyo offering.
Something we did find neat, however, is that the single USB port located on the I/O panel also provides power to the projector. In practice, this means that you can plug in your streaming dongle of choice into that USB port and power both devices using a single cable.
All in all, Vankyo Leisure 3 won’t blow your mind in any way, shape, or form, but we found it to be a stellar ultra-cheap option for those who are only just dipping their toes into the whole home projector shindig.
It’s light, it’s affordable, and it does what it says on the tin: not much else we’d ask for in a device as cheap as this.
- Very affordable, far as projectors go
- Lightweight and portable
- Very easy to set-up and use
- Very low resolution for 2021 use
- Shoddy speakers
- Resolution: 854 x 480 (will display downsampled 1080p)
- Contrast Ratio: 2000:1
- Maximum Brightness: 100 ANSI lumens
- Weight: 0.44 lbs
Apeman’s M4 Mini portable projector takes its ‘pocket’ moniker to a whole new level. This ridiculously tiny device weighs less than half a pound, and it’s easily going to fit in every backpack or laptop bag you might have. Or even the pockets of your pants, for that matter!
It’s difficult to overstate just what a massive boon that can be in a practical scenario. For all intents and purposes, there’s virtually no reason why you couldn’t keep your Apeman M4 Mini somewhere close by. That way, you can just whip it out and start projecting whenever.
Perhaps even more surprising than M4 Mini’s remarkably small frame is the fact that it comes equipped with a rather solid onboard stereo sound solution. That’s right: you’re getting two speakers in this projector, and they’re more than good enough for casual use.
Somehow, the good folk over at Apeman’s R;D managed to cram in a solid 3400 mAh battery into the chassis of M4 Mini. According to official testing, this translated to about 120 minutes of projecting before you need to recharge. This makes the projector perfect for outdoor use.
The most obvious downside to Apeman M4 Mini’s remarkable focus on portability is that it’s not particularly bright. The bulb maxes out at about 100 ANSI lumens, which is far from unusable, but you’ll definitely want to use the projector in a darkened environment.
Apeman M4 Mini is relatively expensive for the performance it delivers, but it’s difficult to overstate just how incredibly portable this gadget is. Barely bigger than the iPhone you’ll connect to it via a wired connection, and about the same weight, too.
- Exceedingly lightweight and small
- Comes with an integrated 3400 mAh battery
- Surprisingly good onboard stereo speakers
- Box includes a handy tripod for easier setup
- Low-resolution output
- Poor maximum brightness
- Resolution: 1280 x 720
- Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
- Maximum Brightness: 420 lumens
- Weight: 0.38 lbs
Another ultra-lightweight choice to connect with your iPhone: the AAXA P300 Neo Pico is a wonderful bundle of projector joy, though we still ought to keep in mind that we are, after all, talking about mini projectors here.
AAXA P300 Neo Pico is an upgraded version of the older baseline P300 model, and overall, it delivers on most fronts.
It’s worth pointing out that you’ll probably be disappointed with the onboard audio solution on this device. While it’s not quite as poor as that of the far cheaper Leisure 3 projector, you’re probably going to want an alternative audio setup for prolonged use.
With that out of the way, there’s still much to love here. AAXA P300 Neo Pico, for example, supports native 720p resolution, which immediately puts it a step above Leisure 3 and M4 Mini. It’s also relatively bright, and colors seem to be more vivid than we expected them to be.
This comes with the downside of there being some amount of oversaturation present. It’s not overly obvious, and it’s not going to be a major issue, but it’s something to be taken into account, we believe.
An area in which P300 Neo Pico shines is its wealth of connectivity options. Whether it’s an iPhone or a Switch, a fully-fledged home console, or a PC, you should have no trouble plugging your device into the projector.
Even SD cards and USB sticks are no issue at all, thanks to P300 Neo Pico’s core media player software. Combine this with the fact that this projector comes with about an hour’s worth of integrated battery power, and you’ve got a small projecting powerhouse in your pocket.
- Exceedingly lightweight and small
- Solid brightness rating
- Supports native 720p resolution
- Great connectivity
- Built-in media player
- Weak-sounding onboard audio
- Slight oversaturation of image (reds, mostly)
- Resolution: 1980 x 1024
- Contrast Ratio: 100000:1
- Maximum Brightness: 600 ANSI lumens
- Weight: 2.20 lbs
Being the chunkiest device on this list, LG PF50KA isn’t for everyone. However, if you can handle its heftier weight and a larger frame, it’s perhaps the most versatile projector you could wish for.
One specific feature we wish to praise right off the bat is its integrated wireless connectivity. That’s right: you can connect your iPhone to PF50KA with no cables whatsoever, the only caveat being that you’ll need to download the dedicated LG TV Plus app to your phone.
Other than that, and if you don’t mind the premium pricing, LG PF50KA is a stellar device. It offers proper, native 1080p projection with support for downsampled 4K – a relatively rare feature in this niche – and the image looks great across the board.
In more general terms, PF50KA fully embraces its ‘smart’ features. Not only will you be able to connect it with virtually every gadget you own – short of the fridge, we suppose – but it’s also got an integrated battery that will easily keep it running for two-ish hours in one go.
LG even got this projector rated for an impressive 600 ANSI lumens, which comes out to a fairly bright image, especially in the niche of small and portable, iPhone-ideal devices.
Naturally, those 600 ANSI lumens are still going to lead to a washed-out image in a room with lots of ambient light, so it won’t be able to compete with larger, more powerful projectors. It fares great compared to most other pocket-sized competitors, however.
It should be clear by now that you get an awful lot of projector in LG PF50KA, but that comes at a cost. Not only is it expensive, but it’s also considerably larger than, say, the Apeman M4 Mini. Don’t get us wrong: it’s still going to fit into a backpack, but you will need to allocate a larger amount of space for it.
- Full HD resolution (supports 4K, though downsampled)
- Stellar image quality and brightness
- Wireless connectivity
- Substantially large integrated battery (2.5 hours)
- Surprisingly low input lag – great for gaming, though only with a wired connection
- Quiet cooling fans
- Great battery life
- Big, compared to most other projectors on this list
- Resolution: 1280 x 800
- Contrast Ratio: 20000:1
- Maximum Brightness: 1000 ANSI lumens
- Weight: 0.88 lbs
No projector list is complete without at least one Optoma device, and their ML1050ST+ has made its way to our iPhone companion devices easily.
ML1050ST+ sits in pretty much the same category as LG’s own PF50KA, in that it’s fairly expensive and somewhat big (in this specific niche, mind), though it also delivers in the areas of image quality and usability, to be sure.
None of the other projectors on this list deliver the kind of color accuracy and contrast you can expect out of ML1050ST+. Its LED lamp also packs a relatively decent punch, with it maxing out at 1000 ANSI lumens. It’s still going to appear washed-out in broad daylight, sadly.
While the lack of any sort of integrated wireless connectivity is a bummer, Optoma makes up for that with a number of other features. From the classic Optoma auto-focus implementation all the way to gaming-ready input lag, there’s a whole lot to love with ML1050ST+, we believe.
A feature of particular note is the integrated media app, which is nice in and of itself, but it also offers document and presentation functionality. This means that, while you can plug in your iPhone for file access, ML1050ST+ can also read various files directly off flash media.
Something worth noting that we haven’t really seen mentioned elsewhere is the surprisingly low power usage of the Optoma ML1050ST+. While it uses the full 77 Watts of power when at full brightness, switching it over to ‘Cinema ; Photo’ is going to drastically reduce that.
From what we’ve seen, the projector seems to only use a meager 27 Watts of power when set up properly, which translates to a remarkably quiet operation. For comparison’s sake, chances are that your laptop has a higher power draw than that.
All in all, Optoma has produced a great little projector in ML1050ST+. It’s got a few flaws, to be sure, but you certainly get what you pay for, as far as we’re concerned.
- Great auto-focus implementation
- Short-throw ensures easy set up in small rooms
- Integrated media and documents app
- Low input lag
- Great picture quality, even though it’s not native 1080p
- Impeccable color accuracy
- Can get loud
- Could use stereo speakers instead of the onboard mono solution
- No wireless connectivity
Mini Projectors for iPhone Projector FAQ
What is the difference between a mini projector and a regular projector?
As you’ve probably learned by now, projectors that come with the ‘mini’ label are usually lower-powered and far smaller than their full-sized equivalents.
Generally, expect a mini projector to be significantly less bright than a full-sized projector, even at max brightness. You will also need to forego many image modifying and compensation features, except in some specific (expensive) cases.
However, mini projectors also come with a far smaller power draw, usually have some sort of an integrated battery to project stuff on the go, and are easily transported. As we’ve shown above, some mini projectors will easily fit into your pockets!
Are mini projectors worth buying?
It boils down to what matters the most in a projector to you specifically. If you’re looking for uncompromising image quality, exceedingly low input lag, and a full suite of customization features, you need a full-sized device.
However, if you want to be able to easily assemble and disassemble your projector in seconds, if you want to take it around and use it outside of your home cinema setup, then getting a mini projector is definitely an important option to consider.
Can I connect my iPhone to a mini projector?
Yes, you can connect your iPhone to a mini projector, but the connectivity of these devices varies a whole lot. Some will have wireless functionality, while others will require you to plug your iPhone into them physically via an HDMI adapter.
How do I connect my iPhone to my projector without HDMI?
While most mini projectors will require an HDMI adapter for you to connect your iPhone, some will have an onboard WiFi adapter and allow you to stream media directly. This is, as you may expect, the ideal solution.
Even if you end up choosing a mini projector without an integrated wireless connectivity feature, however, there are ways for you to go wireless. Namely, you should look into Chromecast and Miracast dongles.
These small USB devices plug into your projector (and can even route power to it that way, in some cases) and then allow you to directly cast the contents of your iPhone screen over to the projector. Extremely handy, in a pinch.
Have you been eyeing one of the mini projectors on our list? We’ve tried to cover a wide variety of differently-priced models that also fit in a number of different use cases, and we believe there’s something for everyone on this admittedly short list of devices.
If you can handle the obvious caveats of using a mini projector, and if you, too, have fallen in love with their incredible form factor and often surprisingly great picture quality, be sure to consider investing in one of these devices.