Your iPhone can do many things, but here's one ability you might not have considered: with the right app you can turn it into a remote control for your smart TV or Apple TV. In this article we show you a quick and easy way to set up this handy feature and save yourself from digging around the back of the sofa when you want to watch Netflix.

Using an iPhone as a smart TV remote

There are two main methods for controlling your smart TV with your iPhone: universal controllers, the catch-all type that are compatible with a variety of manufacturers, and dedicated apps. Both require that your TV and iPhone be connected to the same Wi-Fi connection, as that is how the signal is communicated.

Due to the fact that iPhones don't have infrared (IR) blasters, they can't be used to control older, non-Wi-Fi TV models, although you can buy IR dongles that plug into the Lightning connector and enable this feature. While this seems like a good solution, it just means you'll have an even smaller bit of tech to find when you need to change channels, so we'd advise buying a physical universal remote control instead.

There are a variety of universal remote apps available on the App Store, with AnyMote, Remotie and Universal Remote TV Smart all garnering good reviews. Most are free to download and use, although you will often need to pay if you want the annoying ads to be removed or to upgrade to premium features such as multiple remotes for different devices in your home.

They all work in basically the same way, in that the app will automatically search for your smart TV. Just make sure the TV is on and connected to Wi-Fi, and the app should do the rest.

Once the TV has been found you'll see a confirmation message appear on the screen asking if you want to connect to the app. Agree to this and your iPhone should now be transformed into a remote control.

How to use iPhone as TV remote

We used the excellent AnyMote and found that not only could it control the TV, but there was also the ability to add shortcuts to your favourite apps, while also allowing you to set up macros that automated functions. The basic one was using the iPhone volume controls to set the volume on the TV, but you can define your own, within reason.

Should you prefer to opt for a specific manufacturer's app there are several available, with offerings from Samsung, LG and Panasonic among the options. Although, judging by the reviews, we'd suggest sticking with AnyMote instead.

Using iPhone to control Apple TV

If you have an Apple TV then your iPhone is already primed to let you watch content on your television. The Apple TV app should already be on your device, and if you use it to find purchased movies or shows then you can tap the AirPlay logo and the content will load up on the Apple TV and begin playing.

Should you prefer to have a virtual controller then there's the official Apple TV Remote app, which is free and lets you search, navigate and control what's playing on your screen.

Now, armed with these new ways to command your devices you can explore the best entertainment currently on offer. A good place to start is by reading our Apple TV+ vs Netflix and Apple TV+ vs Amazon Prime Video comparisons.