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Remember when “home projector” meant a gigantic reel-to-reel machine that made loud flickering sounds, smelled funny, and cost a small fortune? No, probably not, but trust us on that one. We’ve come a long way.
A good projector today can fit into your pocket, and can also easily connect to that supercomputer called an iPhone, which also fits into your pocket. Two pockets, two great devices, total entertainment.
It’s not hard to find a great mini projector for your iPhone, but you should know what to look for before you click that “buy” button. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
All About the Lumens: Lumens are the measure of brightness a projector gives off. Small projectors have small bulbs, whether they’re DLP (digital light processing) or LCD (liquid crystal display), so the lumens count will be low compared to large projectors. But if you go too low, you will struggle to see the picture unless you’re in a pitch-black setting. More lumens, more better.
Resolution: Even tiny projectors can give you relatively excellent resolution. You’re not likely to find a crystal-clear 4K picture in a little projector, but aim high. You can find a very solid 720p resolution in even the smallest of projectors.
Connections: Since very few small projectors have built-in streaming apps, on their own they’re minimally useful. So the connection ports are super important. Since we’re talking about iPhones, it’s likely you will need a Lightning to HDMI or Lightning to Mini HDMI cable. As the projectors go, the more methods of connecting to your iPhone, the better. The better ones will be able to connect via Bluetooth, but doublecheck to see if you will also need a cabled connection.
Battery life: If you’re projecting from an iPhone, chances are you might want to not be tethered to a wall outlet. Most mini projectors work off of rechargeable batteries, so check how long they will run on a full charge.
With those key points in mind, here are seven solid choices for the Best Mini Projectors for your iPhone:
Kodak Luma 350
What We Loved: The Kodak Luma 350 brings a ton to the table even beyond the trusted Kodak name. It’s super small (1.1 x 4.4 x 4.4 inches and a mere eighth of a pound), yet has a solid 480p resolution and bright-for-small-projectors 150 lumens. It gives off a nice, crisp picture that can be up to 150 inches in size, and has all of the necessary connections including WiFi and Bluetooth.
What We Didn’t: Ah, those WiFi and Bluetooth connections? Good luck setting those up, because it takes a ton of effort to navigate the Luma 350’s home screen. The interface experience was beyond frustrating, and even then it dropped our strong WiFi signal with alarming frequency. It’s a temperamental little creature.
Anker Nebula Capsule Max
What We Loved: The sound, above all. It’s big and immersive, especially for such a small device, and fills the room easily. The cylindrical design is great. The setup is super easy, including hooking up to WiFi, and the interface is easy and intuitive. The picture is truly magnificent (IF you’re in a very dark room; more on that below). We loved the autofocus and the keystone adjustment technology that lets you project a crisp, proportionate image at all times. The long battery life (4 hours) is great, it connects seamlessly to streaming sticks, and we particularly loved using it for gaming.
What We Didn’t: If you’re trying to use the Nebula Capsule Max under any conditions with even partial light, you’re going to struggle with it. The 200 lumens bulb is bright for a mini projector, yet it still has a very difficult time overcoming any kind of light source, and unless you can provide a very dark room, your $400 may be better spent on a larger projector with a more powerful bulb.
Akaso Mini Projector, Pocket-Sized DLP Portable Projector
What We Loved: Truly pocket-sized like the LED PICO, but sturdier. Comprehensive list of inputs — USB, HDMI, AV, and Micro SD card, and the HDMI port works admirably well when hooked up to gaming consoles. Automatic keystone correction ensures a non-distorted image.
What We Didn’t: Control buttons on the side of the unit rather than the top can cause accidental button-clicking when picking up the unit. Sound is very low, battery life (advertised 2 hours) seems far shorter.
Cibest Home Theater Projector (2022 Upgrade)
What We Loved: 720p native resolution with support up to 1080p at this price point is almost unheard of. Works easily with streaming sticks, gaming consoles, even DVD and Blu-Ray players. Can project to up to a 200-inch screen size.
What We Didn’t: Can project up to a 200-inch screen size does not mean should project up to that size; performs far better up to less than half of that size. Built-in sound is weak and tinny, and has a hard time being heard over the noisy fan.
Auking Mini Projector (2022 Upgrade)
What We Loved: Sub-$75 price for wide range of connections including HDMI for iPhones and laptops (cord not included), and streaming sticks. Tremendous amount of bang for buck value.
What We Didn’t: Claims 720p native resolution and support for 1080p, yet the picture does not bear that out. Still, it’s hard to nitpick an unspectacular-yet-solid projector at this price point.
Viewsonic M1 Mini Plus
What We Loved: The ViewSonic M1 Mini Plus is a solid unit, just a hair smaller than the Kodak, and with the same 480p resolution picture. Thankfully the setup of the ViewSonic was far easier, as it was able to connect via WiFi and Bluetooth without issue. The built-in Smart TV interface worked great for streaming services. A small but cool detail is the extendable built-in handle which also acts as a stand.
What We Didn’t: 50 lumens is super unforgiving if you’re dealing with any sort of light interference. Small projectors do have small bulbs, but this one definitely requires a very dark room.
Aaxa LED Pico Pocket Projector (28% Off)
What We Loved: The LED Pico is, very literally, pocket-sized. It comes with screw-in tripod, which is enormously useful. The 720p resolution is stunning coming from such a tiny device, and the manual focus knob on the unit makes it easy to make that image crystal clear. $129 is a pretty unbeatable price for a pocket-sized projector, especially at this resolution.
What We Didn’t: Compared to the Kodak and the Viewsonic, the LED Pico feels, well, far less sturdy. It runs video reasonably well off our iPhone via a Lightning to Mini-USB cable, but that must be bought separately. It seems more comfortable running slide shows or other media off off a USB drive or MicroSD card than running video.