Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The 5 best phones with IR blasters in 2024

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OnePlus 12

Best overall phone with IR blasters

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Xiaomi 14 Ultra

Best premium phone with IR blasters

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OnePlus Open

Best foldable phone with IR blasters

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OnePlus 12R

Best midrange phone with IR blasters

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Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G

Best budget phone with IR blasters

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IR blasters used to be a common component in smartphones, with big products from Samsung, OnePlus, and TCL giving users access to the cool gadget. Phones equipped with IR blasters could be used as a universal remote for your other electronics, making it easy to control your gear without the need for their default controller (which might be clunky and unintuitive to use).

Fast forward today, and attempting to find a smartphone with an IR blaster is shockingly difficult. What was once common technology is now relegated to just a handful of smartphones. You won’t find any iPhones or Galaxy phones with IR blasters, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a poorly reviewed smartphone if you’re interested in the tech. You will, however, probably need to settle for either OnePlus or Xiaomi, as they’re the two key players still churning out powerful smartphones equipped with IR blasters.

If you’re unfamiliar with these brands, we’ve pulled together the five best phones with IR blasters to help you narrow down your options. Most of these options are unlocked and should work with the majority of carriers, though we’d recommend contacting your provider if you’re not sure they’ll be supported. We’d also recommend looking into mobile apps for your TV or other electronics, as these apps might let you turn any smartphone into a remote control without the need for IR blasters.

Decide you no longer need IR blasters and would rather have a flagship from Apple or Samsung? Check out our list of the best smartphones of 2024 for more great options.

oneplus 12 review flowy emerald held in hand arch

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

OnePlus 12

Best overall phone with IR blasters





OnePlus 12 Review

Pros

  • Beautiful curved display
  • Flowy Emerald is a truly unique color
  • Powerful performance
  • Hasselblad camera system delivers great results
  • Two-day battery
  • Very fast wired and wireless charging

Cons

  • Back glass is slippery
  • Curved screen has some annoyances
  • Large size can be unwieldy

Specifications

Display
6.82 inches

Storage
512GB

Operating system
Android 14

The OnePlus 12 isn’t just one of the best phones with an IR blaster – it’s also our best Android phone overall. Equipped with plenty of premium specs along with the elusive IR blaster, you won’t have to make any compromised with this feature-complete smartphone.

Clocking in under $1,000, there’s a lot to love about the OnePlus 12 beyond just its price tag. For one, it’s 6.82-inch curved display looks absolutely stunning, allowing you to play games, watch movies, or just scroll through Reddit while being treated to one of the best screens on the market. Coupled with its 120Hz refresh rate, the OnePlus 12 is shockingly fun to use.

Powering all the action is the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, which is one of the most powerful smartphone processor available in 2024. You’re also getting 16GB RAM and 512GB storage – in other words, this phone can easily compete with premium phones from Apple and Samsung.

Rounding out the flagship smartphone is a Hasselblad camera suite, support for wireless charging, and a slim glossy design that makes the OnePlus 12 look like the high-end device that it is. You should also have no problem getting a full day of use out of the smartphone before needing a recharge, thanks to its large 5400mAh battery.

OnePlus 12

Best overall phone with IR blasters


Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Xiaomi 14 Ultra

Best premium phone with IR blasters





Xiaomi 14 Ultra Review

Pros

  • It can take incredible photos
  • So many camera modes to try
  • Smooth and reliable software
  • Fast battery charging

Cons

  • Battery life falls short of the competition
  • Ungainly shape

Specifications

Display
6.73 inches

Storage
1TB

Operating system
Xiaomi Hyper OS

Though you’ll want to pay close attention as to whether it’ll work with your preferred carrier, the Xiaomi 14 Ultra is one of the newest smartphones to feature IR blasters. It’s also one of the most expensive, with a price tag that soars above $1,000.

If those caveats don’t turn you away, you’ll find a smartphone that’s packed to the brim with features. The star of the show is undoubtedly its camera, which was designed with Leica components and captures brilliant images regardless of whether you’re using its main camera or many auxiliary cameras. These images can then be modified with an AI imaging system to finetune their details and snap the perfect shot.

Other highlights include a massive AMOLED display, fast battery charging, and an intuitive OS that’s smooth and responsive thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor. You’ll have to keep in mind that the current version on the market is the Chinese edition – but since it supports Google Mobile Service, Google Play Store, and receives over-the-air updates, it’s a solid choice for someone who doesn’t mind looking beyond the typical brands you’ll find with your local carrier.

Xiaomi 14 Ultra

Best premium phone with IR blasters

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Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

OnePlus Open

Best foldable phone with IR blasters





OnePlus Open Review

Pros

  • Great compact and lightweight size
  • Powerful cameras
  • Beautiful screens
  • Anti-glare inner display
  • Opens flat easily
  • 67W fast charging
  • Intuitive multitasking

Cons

  • Hinge isn’t firm enough
  • Large camera bump
  • Macro and 120x Super Res are not great

Specifications

Display
7.82 inches

Storage
512GB

Operating system
Android 13

While the Galaxy Z Fold series doesn’t offer an IR blaster, you don’t have to give up your dreams of having a foldable phone. The OnePlus Open may not be as popular as the latest Z Fold, but it’s a great alternative – especially if an IR blaster is a dealbreaker.

The exterior display on the Open clocks in at a sizable 6.31 inches, but it’s the massive interior screen that’s the big draw of the foldable. When opened, you’ll get a gigantic 7.82 inches of real estate, which is great for watching shows or diving into a few games. It’s not rocking the latest Snapdragon processor, but it’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is still a good companion for most tasks. It also features 16GB RAM and 512GB of storage.

Multitasking is easier than ever with such a large display, and OnePlus made sure to take full advantage of the added space. Its Open Canvas feature lets you instantly switch apps or drag and drop content from one tab to another, streamlining your chats or letting you quickly share your latest memes.

As for the camera block, this foldable features a Hasselblad setup similar to that of the OnePlus 12. Toss in a thin design, support for Dolby Vision HDR, and carbon fiber construction for added durability, and you’ve got a well-rounded foldable that can hang with the best.

OnePlus Open

Best foldable phone with IR blasters


Joe Maring / Digital Trends

OnePlus 12R

Best midrange phone with IR blasters





OnePlus 12R Review

Pros

  • Sleek, polished design
  • Top-notch display
  • Fast performance; runs cool
  • Excellent battery life
  • 80W charging!
  • Unbeatable price

Cons

  • Poor ultrawide and macro cameras
  • No wireless charging

Specifications

Display
6.78 inches

Storage
256GB

Operating system
Android 14

The OnePlus 12R is the more affordable sibling of the OnePlus 12. It offers many of the same benefits as the premium flagship, but it cuts a few corners to offer a more affordable device to shoppers that don’t need the latest and greatest tech. it doesn’t, however, cut out the IR blaster, making it a nice compromise for budget-minded users.

Despite the big price cut, the OnePlus 12R still comes with a large 6.78 inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. That’s pretty impressive for a device around $600, and if you want something that looks great and won’t break your budget, you can stop the search at the OnePlus 12R. Along with its crisp display, the OnePlus 12R offers a sleek overall design that looks great while in use or while sitting on your desk, making you think twice about slapping a case on it.

The main concession you’ll make with the OnePlus 12R is with its processor, as it drops to the older Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. That’s still a great processor, but doesn’t offer the same high-end performance as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3. But with 16GB RAM and 256GB of storage, there’s not much else to complain about.

Our OnePlus 12 R review called the phone “one of the best smartphone values [we’ve] seen in years,” so be sure to give it a look.

OnePlus 12R

Best midrange phone with IR blasters


Xiaomi

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G

Best budget phone with IR blasters

Pros

  • Great price
  • Vibrant display
  • Good cameras

Cons

  • Lackluster processor
  • Old operating system

Specifications

Display
6.67 inches

Storage
256GB

Operating system
Android 12

At less than $400, the Xiaomi Redmi is the cheapest product on this list. It makes quite a few compromises to hit that price point, but if you don’t mind missing out on some key features and just need a reliable smartphone with an IR blaster, the Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G might be a good option.

With support for up to 8K video recording and a camera suite composed of a 200MP main camera, 8MP ultrawide, and 2MP macro camera, you should have no problem capturing good images (and videos) on the Note 12 Pro Plus 5G. Everything should look great on the display too, as it’s a 6.67 inch AMOLED screen that supports a 120Hz refresh rate and 2400 x 1080 resolution. Those are pretty impressive specs for a display in this price range, outshining much of the competition.

However, the hardware inside the smartphone falls short of everything else on this list. Instead of a premium Snapdragon processor, it comes with a MediaTek Dimensity 1080. That’s not a bad processor by any means, but it just can’t compete with handsets twice its price. You’re also only getting 8GB RAM, which is much lower than the 16GB found on many other smartphones with IR blasters.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 12 Pro Plus 5G

Best budget phone with IR blasters

How we chose the best phones with IR blasters

Unfortunately, your options are pretty slim when it comes to phones with IR blasters in 2024. And unless you want to go back several generations and snag a really old Samsung Galaxy, your best options nowadays are typically confined to OnePlus and Xiaomi. Luckily, these catalogs are filled with great smartphones that are equipped with IR blasters – and even if they’re not as popular as the latest iPhone or Galaxy products, they’re not a bad option if you need the IR tech. Here’s a closer look at how we picked the best phones with IR blasters.

Equipped with easy-to-use IR blasters

First and foremost, the smartphones needed to have IR blasters. This sounds like common sense, but it’s surprisingly difficult to find good smartphones equipped with the technology in 2024. Samsung hasn’t produced a phone with an IR blaster in years, and unless you want to mess with clunky third-party accessories, your iPhone won’t work either. We made sure that every product on this list is equipped with built-in IR blasters, so you can get to controlling your other electronics as soon as you get your new smartphone out of its box.

Premium processors and RAM

While you won’t find any ultra-premium phones on this list (most are well under $1,000), many of them are designed with powerful Snapdragon processors. The OnePlus 12, for example, features the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 that was just announced at the end of 2023. We also searched for phones with a good amount of RAM, as you’ll probably want your device to work well for surfing the web, gaming, streaming movies, and sending text messages. You don’t need a whole lot of power to get a phone working as an IR blaster, but if you want it to be a good all-around smartphone, it’s nice to have hardware that lets you handle a variety of other tasks.

Vibrant screen

A screen can make or break a smartphone. It serves as not just the primary way you’ll interact with the device, but also how you’ll see all your apps and games. That means you’ll want something that’s not just high resolution, but also supports a fast refresh rate. Thankfully, you don’t have to make any sacrifices in this category when searching for a phone with an IR blaster, as there are options that get up to 120Hz and 2K resolutions. This makes them look every bit as premium as their iPhone and Galaxy counterparts.

Storage

Finding a smartphone with lots of storage isn’t nearly as big a deal as it was in the past, as most folks will opt to save files to the cloud. Still, having offline access to games, photos, and movies is often a big selling point of smartphones, so we made sure to include options that have plenty of space for all your files.

Cameras

Along with texting and making phone calls, smartphones are increasingly turning into replacements for your camera. Most of the products on this list can capture vibrant images and videos that are perfect for Instagram and TikTok, and many even have multiple cameras so you can capture a variety of different content (such as ultrawide, wide, and selfie cameras).

Supported by multiple carriers

You’ll want to check with your local carrier, but most of our recommended phones are unlocked and supported by multiple providers. Carrier bands are so varied that it’s difficult to say with certainty that these will work across all 4G and 5G networks for every carrier in every country, and since many are imports to the US, you should definitely check with your current provider before making a purchase. Still, we did our best to find phones that are universally accepted across many of today’s most popular carriers.

This article is managed and created separately from the Digital Trends Editorial team.

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