MHL Cable choices
The chances are that if you’ve come to this post, you’re already aware that your device has MHL (video out capability), so I won’t explain what an MHL cable is used for (there are good definitions within the linked products below) and we have also written about it before in our what is MHL post, which explains what MHL does and shows off some of its coolest features.
However, while MHL is an industry standard (meaning that in theory the same cable should be compatible with all MHL-enabled devices), that is not the case – some use an 11 pin arrangement, others use a 5 pin arrangement. The point of this post therefore is to tell you which MHL cable is compatible with your device.
While we do cover Samsung MHL cables below (as well as cables for other manufacturers), we now have a more detailed post that you may find useful if you use a Samsung handset: Which MHL adaptor does my Samsung Galaxy need?
Samsung Galaxy S4 / Samsung Galaxy S3 11 pin MHL Adaptor
We have created a video to show the description below in action, which you can view here
The Samsung Galaxy S3 and Samsung Galaxy S4 MHL adaptors are interchangeable with both handsets. That’s to say, the S4 MHL adaptor will work with the S3, and the S3 MHL adaptor will work with the S4. However, there are still some differences.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 uses MHL 2.0. This means that there is no power connection needed for the MHL adaptor to work – the S4 can power the connection itself. That being said, it is advisable to power the connection if possible (using your handset’s microUSB charger) in order to prevent battery drain. Both the S3 and S4 adaptors work with the S4 without the need to power the connection.
The situation with the Samsung Galaxy S3 handset is the opposite. Both the S3 and S4 MHL adaptors will need to be powered if you are using them with the S3. This isn’t a huge problem as the microUSB charger supplied with you handset is fine for this purpose, it just makes the setup slightly more inconvenient.
The other difference between the two adaptors is that the S4 adaptor has a 60MHz refresh rate, whereas the S3 has a 24MHz refresh rate. This means that the S4 adaptor will provide a better image on screen, whether you are using it with the S3 or the S4.
Galaxy Note range
All Galaxy Notes include support for MHL. The rules for choosing an MHL cable are the same as the Galaxy S device of the same generation and follow the same guidelines as above
- Galaxy Note = Samsung Galaxy S2: available HERE
- Galaxy Note 2 = Samsung Galaxy S3: available HERE
- Galaxy Note 3 = Samsung Galaxy S4: available HERE
Samsung 5 pin MHL tip
Samsung’s change to 11 pins stopped their new adapters being compatible with older devices and vice-versa. Due to this, a small tip accessory was created to convert original 5 pin adaptors to the new 11 pin arrangement. This is available HERE. Be aware that whilst this will make older 5 pin adaptors able to output over HDMI on newer Samsung phones, the adaptor specification remains the same. Any new MHL features present on up to date adaptors designed specifically for newer devices will not be available.
11-Pin MHL adaptor
From the Galaxy S3 onwards, Samsung modified the MHL standard to produce a specific 11 pin adapter for their range of devices. As stated above there is some interoperability between the S3/S4 generation.
5-Pin MHL adaptor
The original MHL specification. Most devices use this standard. The Samsung Galaxy S2 was the first device with this connection and the adapter for this is universal across all 5 pin handsets. For this reason, most of the devices listed below have links to a Samsung MHL adapter, rather than their own manufacturer, as this is the most readily available.
In August 2013, the MHL consortium announced the specification for MHL 3.0. Continuing the improvements to 2.0 that brought powered MHL, version 3.0 has support for 4K video (2160p@30fps). The full list of improvements is below:
- 4K (Ultra HD): Support of 4K formats up to 2160p30
- Simultaneous high-speed data channel
- Improved Remote Control Protocol (RCP) with new commands
- HID support for peripherals such as a touch screen,keyboard and mouse
- Higher Power charging up to 10W
- Backward compatible with MHL 1 and MHL 2
- Latest HDCP 2.2 content protection
- Enhanced 7.1 surround sound with Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD
- Connector agnostic – uses as few as five pins
- Support for simultaneous multiple displays
Other accessories that offer MHL capability
Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Smart Dock – due early April. It’s possible that this will also be compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S3, but we will confirm this once we have received stock.
There was a similar product for Sony handsets called the LiveDock, but this has now been discontinued.
Handsets that you may expect to have MHL, but don’t
MHL is a relatively new standard when it comes to its inclusion with smartphones, so you could be forgiven for expecting it to be included with newly released handsets. however, some new handsets do not include it, but use other standards such as SlimPort, which we explain here. Here are a list of those that we are aware of that do not use MHL and the equivalent standard that they do use.
LG Nexus 4 – SlimPort