How Does Infrared Work on Cell Phones?

By Editorial Team

Updated December 13, 2019

Operation and Usage

Many modern cell phones, especially smart phones, may be equipped with an infrared (also called IrDA) port. This port allows you to connect your phone wirelessly to a compatible laptop to manage your phone contact information. Many modern laptops come equipped with infrared capabilities, but you may need to purchase additional software to control your phone. If your laptop or cell phone is not equipped to handle infrared connections, there is no easy way to add this functionality to your equipment. Infrared is a short range communication method, and it requires that you place the infrared ports of your cell phone and laptop facing each other at a very close range. Once communication is established between the devices, do not move the infrared ports out of line of sight of each other or communications may be interrupted.


To setup an infrared connection to a computer, it is first necessary to enable the infrared ports on both your laptop and your cell phone. For security reasons, both of these ports are often disabled by default. It is a good idea to shut these ports down again once you are finished, or some phones may provide an option to leave the port enabled only for a short period of time, after which the port will be automatically disabled. Windows PCs come capable of recognizing the connection between two infrared capable devices and once the connection is established, your data management software will guide you through the steps of managing your contacts wirelessly.

Media Transfer

In addition to the remote management of cell phone contacts, infrared ports may be used to transfer music or image files from a computer to a cell phone. The above restrictions apply to these connections as well, though special software may not be necessary to enable this functionality for some phones. Most phones have a very limited file storage capacity, so you may not be able to transfer many files to your phone.