when someone says that a smartphone is used for almost everything, it is textual. Beyond making calls, its components make it a handheld, camera, video camera, portable GPS, travel hard drive, portable game console, diary, digital notepad and a long etcetera. Precisely, thanks to its integrated camera, we can turn a phone into a webcam for video surveillance, video calls or whatever comes to mind. And with DroidCam you can make it even easier.
let’s put that you need a web camera or webcam. Good because you work from home and meet frequently over video calls. Well because you want to install a CCTV system inside or outside the house. In both cases, you can make a purchase, because there are relatively inexpensive models. Or rather, open the drawer of cables, chargers and old phones and save a smartphone from oblivion that you don’t use and that deserves a second life.
Below, we go through step-by-step everything you need to do to turn your old smartphone into a working webcam. You will save money and, in return, you will give a second chance to your old mobile device.
restore your phone
To recycle your phone and turn it into a webcam for video calls or video surveillance we will use specific software, DroidCam. But first we are going to save the phone from oblivion and prepare it for what we want. If you haven’t done so by then, it’s a good idea to make a reset so that your old device is like the first day. This will prevent old applications from consuming resources, memory or bandwidth.
To leave your phone “clean” like new, the easiest, fastest and most effective option is to return to factory settings. Whether it’s an iPhone or Android (regardless of manufacturer), do this reset it will erase customizations, settings, old files and other items. We want a clean device that he will only do a webcam.
On iOS, to reset your iPhone, you will need to go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset. Then we will click on Delete content and settings. On Android, you will need to go to Settings > System > Recovery Options > Erase All Data.
It is also recommended do without synchronization functions that Apple and Google provide to their operating systems. That is, you do not need to log in with iCloud or Google Drive to sync content from your phone. We will only use our credentials once, to install DroidCam. From there we can disconnect.
Now that the phone is ready, we will install the software. DroidCam It works by connecting the webcam or webcam to your computer. This can be done with a USB cable or directly via WiFi. The fact is that we will have to install the application in two places. On the phone, with his version for iOS or Androidand on the computer, with its version for Windows and Linux.
The desktop version, for PC, is free. For its part, the version for smartphone, iPhone or Android, has a free version and a paid version. The free is fully functional. Although if you need more features, you can pay for them. Paid functions concern the control of the camera from the computer, use the camera in HD and FullHD quality (720p and 1080p), adjust brightness and contrast, adjust volume, and finally avoid ads.
Connect the PC to the smartphone wirelessly
Once we have prepared the phone that will act as a webcam and we have installed the application in its two versions, desktop and mobile, touch connect both devices. Depending on the use made of it, video surveillance, video calls, external or internal use, it will be practical to use a USB cable or a WiFi connection. In any case, we will first have to open DroidCam in Windows or Linux.
We then open DroidCam on the phone and connect it to our WiFi network. The app will display the device’s IP address on the home network and the port in use. This data is useful because it allows you to see what the smartphone sees directly from the browser. It’s more. We will have to indicate this IP address and this port in the desktop version of DroidCam, once we have marked the option WiFi (LAN) instead of USB. There you can choose whether you want to receive video only or video and audio.
If all goes well, what your phone converted to webcam captures will also be viewable on DroidCam on your computer. And you can use it with other apps. For example, if you want to use it for video calls, you can specify it as video input in Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or any other app that lets you choose the video input source.
If your phone uses Android, we can see the webcam remotely directly from a web browser. It works with Firefox, Chrome and generally any modern browser. This way you will avoid having to install DroidCam on your PC.
Connect the PC to the smartphone via USB
If you plan to use your old smartphone as a webcam for video calls, the best option is to use a USB cable. In CCTV, you may prefer a wireless WiFi connection. With USB, the connection is immediate and moreover, will keep the battery charged of the phone. The downside is that this option requires more steps to configure.
In Android, after connecting the two devices by USB cable, you will need to activate the function usb debugging (USB debugging) and install the drivers on your computer so that it recognizes your phone. First, you will need to go to Settings > About Device to activate the developer options. Once in About…click several times on build number Is Build number. A message will tell you if you need to tap multiple times to enable developer options.
Once this menu is activated, we will Settings > Developer Options and activate the option usb debugging Is usb debugging. When detecting the connection we have between the PC and the smartphone, we will click on Always allow Is always allow then in OK Is Accept.
We already have the Android phone configured for USB and connected to the PC. Windows will have previously detected the connection and installed the necessary drivers. Now all we have to do is open DroidCam in Windows or Linux, choose the USB option (USB cable icon) and click on the update button. In the drop-down list we will see our smartphone and select it.
Finally we choose if we want to receive video and/or audio and, finally, we click on To start up to start receiving what the phone picks up by camera and microphone.
On iOS, you must have iTunes installed. This will help Windows detect the iPhone and be able to use it as a webcam via USB. Then we open DroidCam, go to the USB option and we will see our iPhone in the drop-down menu. We mark the video and/or audio and click on To start up.
If you’ve come this far, you already have your old smartphone acting as a webcam connected to your computer for video calling or video surveillance. From there, the phone will act as a device/webcam. In other words, when you want to participate in a video call, you can select the phone as the video input. In Zoomfor example, we click on the drop-down menu next to Start video / Stop videoThen in Video settings… and finally in Camerawe will select the smartphone.
The rest of the applications for video calls (Teams, Skype, Hangouts) or live streaming (OBS, Twitch Studio, Streamlabs Desktop) work the same way. They have a video input option where you can add or indicate that you want to use a specific device, which can be a camera built into your laptop or the smartphone that we have converted into a webcam.
If you just want to see what your camera is showing live or use it in video calls, you don’t have to do anything else. But what if we want Record as video what captures our webcam? In this case, you just need a recording application on your PC and choose the input source, as we have seen before.
Previously we saw an application that specialized in recording video from a webcam. His name is webcamoidis free and serves both for capture pictures or frames to record on video. He has even visual effects and other additional functions. It is used for video calling, video surveillance or any task that requires capturing video.