With new smartphones coming out seemingly every week, you’re probably considering an upgrade sometime soon. But that doesn’t mean your current device has to be relegated to a drawer — it can have a second life as a home security camera.
Think about it, your phone has all it needs to keep an eye on your house: it has a microphone, a persistent internet connection and, most importantly, a camera. With the right apps, you can set it up keep a record of everything that happens while you’re away.
The first step is to find the right app. If you just want to peek in on your house (or use the phone as a baby monitor), you can download Manything for iOS or Android and use its free tier. That comes with motion alerts, detection zones and live streaming for one camera.
If you want to add cloud recording or multiple cameras, plans start at $2.99 per month with 48 hours of recording. That’s much less than what competitors like Nest and Logi offer, but quality really depends on your device. However, you can also customize your smartphone camera with third-party lenses and better microphones to better suit your needs. You can even put it in a weatherproof case for outdoor use.
Of course, you’ll need to mount your phone securely. If you’re just planning to put it on a bookshelf or table, you can use a little tripod kit. For mounting your phone to a wall, you can get a wall-mounted security camera mount and the holder from your old selfie stick. Just unscrew the holder and screw it onto the mount.
You’ll also need power. While phones have good batteries, they aren’t made to continuously record. So running a charger is the last step to turning your phone into a security camera. Luckily, phone chargers are abundant and long charging cables are cheap. To be safe, use a high-quality charger that will stay cool despite constant use.
There are a few downsides to using a smartphone as a security camera. First of all, your recording quality is wholly based on your smartphone’s camera quality. If your phone doesn’t do well in low light, it’s not going to work in dim areas like garages or even at night.
You also need to be sure your phone is up to date. And if you’re using an older device, manufacturers may stop updating its software, meaning the apps may no longer run at top quality. However, Manything knows that many users operate older devices, and will therefore take caution in cutting off older devices.
The smartphone security camera is a great way to test your security camera needs without spending a lot. It’s also a great way to augment your security setup when needed while also saving old devices from the landfill.
For a real camera, check out our review of the best home security cameras.