A phone with an IR blaster can double as a universal remote, allowing you to control various electronic devices in your home such as a TV. Unfortunately, phones with IR blasters aren’t as common as they used to be. Companies like Samsung and HTC have more or less ditched it altogether, but you can still find it on a few handsets from Chinese brands.
If you’re in the market for a phone with an IR blaster, keep reading. You’ll find a few of the best ones below.
What is an IR blaster, anyway?
The “IR” in IR blaster simply stands for “infrared”. The hardware itself is also equally simple to understand. If your phone has an IR blaster, it will allow you to send commands, via infrared rays, to another device, such as a television, set-top box or stereo that is compatible with IR remotes. The main advantage of using an IR blaster-based device is that your phone doesn’t need to be in the line of sight with whichever product you want to control with it. That means that if its a set-top box, for example, it can be placed out of the way and still be controlled by an IR blaster-based smartphone. Your phone can even control an IR blaster-compatible device through the walls of your home, if needed.
Huawei P20 Pro
Huawei’s P20 Pro has a lot to offer. Announced in March 2018, it packs the Kirin 970 chipset along with 6GB of RAM under the hood. It’s the first phone to sport a triple-camera setup on the back, with a 40MP RGB sensor, a 20MP secondary monochrome sensor, and an 8MP telephoto lens.
The device also comes with a 6.1-inch Full HD+ display, a massive 4,000mAh battery, and, of course, an IR blaster. It looks and feels stunning due to its metal and glass construction and thin bezels. It also has a notch, which not everyone loves. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support expandable storage or have a headphone jack.
Huawei’s flagship runs Android 8.1 Oreo with the EMUI skin on top, but you can upgrade it to the latest Android Pie. It supports facial recognition, although the front-mounted fingerprint scanner is a much safer option. It’s also IP67 rated for protection against water and dust, and comes with 128GB of storage. The smartphone is available in a number of markets, with the U.S. not being one of them. You can get it for around 530 euros in Europe (~$600).
- 6.1-inch OLED display with 2,240 x 1,080 resolution, 408ppi
- Kirin 970 chipset
- 6GB of RAM
- 128GB of storage, not expandable
- 40, 20, and 8MP rear cameras, 24MP front camera
- Non-removable 4,000mAh battery
- Android 8.1 Oreo
- 155.0 x 73.9 x 7.8mm, 180g
- Huawei P20 Pro review: The Galaxy S9 killer
- Huawei P20 vs P20 Pro: Do you need the triple camera?
- What is the Huawei P20’s Hybrid Zoom?
Honor View 20
What makes the View 20 one of the best phones with an IR blaster is a combination of high-end specs, a great design, and an affordable price tag. The phone has a hole-punch display that allows it to achieve a high screen-to-body ratio. It’s powered by the latest Kirin 980 chipset and sports 6GB of RAM, which means it can handle just about any task with ease.
Honor’s flagship competes with the likes of the OnePlus 6T, which means it offers great value for money. You can get it on Amazon for 570 euros, which translates to around $650. The phone was not released in the U.S.
- 6.4-inch IPS LCD display with 2,310 x 1,080 resolution, 398ppi
- Kirin 980 processor
- 6/8GB RAM
- 128/256GB of storage, not expandable
- 48MP and TOF 3D stereo rear cameras, 24MP front-facing camera
- Non-removable 4,000mAh battery
- Android 9.0 Oreo
- 156.9 x 75.4 x 8.1mm, 180g
- Honor View 20 review: A hole-in-one!
- Honor View 20 specs: What’s Honor’s new flagship packing?
- Specs comparison: Honor View 20 vs Honor View 10
Xiaomi Mi 9
Xiaomi ditched the IR blaster with last year’s Mi 8 but has decided to bring it back with its successor. The Xiaomi Mi 9 was recently announced at MWC 2019 and is powered by the latest and greatest Snapdragon 855 chipset.
The Mi 9's battery can go from zero to 100 percent in around 65 minutes.
The phone features an in-display fingerprint scanner and three rear cameras. The battery comes in at 3,300mAh and supports 27W wired charging, which gets it from zero to 100 percent in around 65 minutes. The Mi 9 also supports wireless charging, is a dual-SIM device, and has a premium look and feel thanks to its metal and glass design.
What makes it special is price tag — the phone is a lot cheaper than the likes of the Galaxy S10 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro. You can get it for 450 euros, which translates to just $510. It’s available in Europe but was not released stateside.
- 6.39-inch Super AMOLED display with 2,340 x 1,080 resolution, 403ppi
- Snapdragon 855 chipset
- 6/8/12GB of RAM
- 64/128/256GB of storage, not expandable
- 48, 16, and 12MP rear cameras, 20MP front camera
- Non-removable 3,300mAh battery
- Android 9.0 Pie
- 157.5 x 74.7 x 7.6mm, 173g
- Xiaomi Mi 9 review: The latest flagship tech at a reasonable price
- Xiaomi Mi 9 vs Xiaomi Mi 8: Fast track to improvements
- Xiaomi Mi 9 vs Pocophone F1 quick look
Huawei Mate 20 Pro
The Mate 20 Pro is the best phone in Huawei’s lineup. In addition to an IR blaster, it also sports a large curved display, an in-display fingerprint scanner, and a massive battery. Then there’s the triple-camera setup at the back, a gorgeous design, and tons of other features including 3D facial recognition.
The Mate 20 Pro has an in-display fingerprint scanner, a triple-camera setup, and 3D facial recognition.
The phone offers everything you need and more. It’s IP68 rated for protection against water and dust and can double as a wireless charger, allowing you to charge your Qi-compatible phone by placing it on the back of the Mate 20 Pro. However, the phone doesn’t have a headphone jack and runs EMUI on top of Android, which isn’t the best skin out there.
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is an expensive device, launching with a price tag of around 1,000 euros back in October (~$1,135) However, its price has been reduced since — check out the pricing via the button below. Like the rest of Huawei phones, the Mate 20 Pro was not released in the U.S.
- 6.39-inch AMOLED display with 3,120 x 1,440 resolution, 538ppi
- Kirin 980 chipset
- 6GB of RAM
- 256GB of storage, expandable up to 256GB via NM (nano memory)
- 40, 8, 20MP rear cameras, 24MP front camera
- Non-removable 4,200mAh battery
- Android 9.0 Pie
- 157.8 x 72.3 x 8.6mm, 189g
- Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro hands-on: Cameras, cubed
- Here are the top 5 Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro features
- Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro vs the competition
Xiaomi Mi A2
The last model on our list of the best phones with an IR blaster is the Xiaomi Mi A2. It doesn’t pack as much power under the hood as the other phones in this post, but it does offer a clean software experience. It’s an Android One device, which means it runs a stock version of Google’s OS.
The Xiaomi Mi A2 is the cheapest phone on this list, starting at around 175 euros (~$X). It sports a premium metal body and is equipped with an excellent camera for the price. Other specs and features include a 3,000mAh battery, a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, and a 20MP selfie snapper.
As an Android One device, the Mi A2 is guaranteed to get at least two years of OS and three years of security updates. The phone launched with Android 8.1 Oreo on board and has already been updated to Android Pie.
- 6.0-inch IPS LCD display with 2,160 x 1,080 resolution, 403ppi
- Snapdragon 660 chipset
- 4/6GB of RAM
- 32/64/128GB of storage, not expandable
- Dual 12 and 20MP rear cameras, 20MP front camera
- Non-removable 3,000mAh battery
- Android 8.1 Oreo
- 158.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm, 166g
- Xiaomi Mi A2 review: An ‘A’ for effort, but still not perfect
- Stable Android 9 Pie rolling out now to Xiaomi Mi A2
- Xiaomi Mi A2 vs Nokia 7 Plus specs: Battle of the Snapdragon 660, Android One phones
There you have it, folks. These are our picks for the best phones with an IR blaster. Many other phones with IR blasters debuted last year, most from Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi, Huawei, and Honor. If you’re looking for a Samsung- or HTC-branded handset, you’ll have to go with something a bit older like the Galaxy S6 and One M9.
Any thoughts on our list? What phones would you add or remove? Let us know in the comments!