Just because your smartphone is a couple of generations old doesn’t mean it can’t be put to good use. When you get down to it, even the most outdated phone is still a palm-sized computer stuffed with advanced sensor tech. So instead of throwing it away or reselling it for less than what you paid originally, why not repurpose the device and turn your old smartphone into a security camera?
There are dozens of incredible Android and iOS apps that can transform your phone into a useful smart home fixture and surprisingly smart security camera (especially if you are willing to mount it on a wall near an outlet for power), as well as myriad low-cost accessories that can add extra functionality to your device. Below you’ll find a quick roundup of the best options available, starting with Alfred.
Note: This is an easy way to get a security cam, but your smart home security camera will not be great for the outdoors. Check out our list of the best outdoor security cams to learn more.
If you’re looking for the best security cam app to turn an old phone into a security asset, Alfred is your pick. This excellently designed app is installed on two phones — one for using your phone’s camera as a security cam, and one for controlling all of your settings and viewing footage.
Not only do you get streaming footage on your phone, but Alfred also offers a siren feature, two-way talking, motion detection, and a low-light filter. There’s also a “trust circle,” where friends will be able to access the cam themselves if necessary. It even works for multiple smartphone-turned-cam devices for whole-house monitoring. Paid versions are available for more advanced storage features.
The catch is that you have to have a fairly advanced smartphone to take advantage of all these features, so using a particularly old phone may not be very efficient.
AtHome is another app packed with useful features, including two-way talk options, night vision, and A.I. learning to recognize moving people as opposed to branches swaying in the wind. There’s also a mode that gives you a 24-hour time-lapse of everything the cam saw in the last 24 hours, so you can quickly look for anything suspicious.
If your phone has the right sensors, it can even automatically start filming if it detects vibration. Note that there are two versions of the app, one for the phone that will act as a cam, and one for your own phone for controls, so make sure you download the right options.
Manything is a free iOS app that can convert your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad into a Wi-Fi-connected security camera. Then, you can use a second iOS device as your mobile monitor or opt to keep an eye on things from the Manything web app.
This app provides more than just a security camera; it’s also got its own IFTTT channel, so you can link it to a huge range of web services and connected devices. For example, if you’ve got Philips Hue lights in your house, you could set them to turn on automatically whenever Manything detects motion — making your phone act as both a motion-activated smart switch and a handy home-security tool that makes it look like someone’s at home.
For $7, Dormi will take any Android phone or tablet running Gingerbread version 3.2 or greater and put its internet connectivity and advanced video and audio sensors to good use.
You plug the device into the wall, and it operates like a regular baby monitor. You can use your primary phone to monitor audio or video at any point in a drop-in style. Another option is to configure the app to send you automatic alerts when your baby wakes up. It continually senses ambient noise in a given room, which is what activates the notifications. As soon as your little bundle of joy wakes up and starts crying, you’ll know.
Cloud Baby Monitor
The Cloud Baby Monitor app affords you high-quality video and unlimited range through Wi-Fi, 3G, or LTE. It’s incredibly versatile, functioning as either a home security camera or a baby monitor.
Cloud Baby Monitor is capable of alerting you to noises or motion. If you choose to use it as a baby monitor, it can play a lullaby or just white noise to help your little one sleep. You can use the monitor to talk to your baby remotely. Plus, it’s compatible with the Apple Watch — you can get motion or noise alerts right on your wrist. When it comes to either baby monitor or home security functions, the app is also compatible with your Mac. You can view your baby or your home remotely from work (or anywhere else) with iOS.
If you don’t turn your old phone in for an exchange and upgrade, it’s tough to know what to do with it. Old phones can take up space in junk drawers or end up as paperweights that collect dust. So, you might as well get some use out of these old devices if you can. With a simple app download, you can repurpose that old phone and convert it to a security camera and even a handy baby monitor (and one that is small and portable for travel). The benefit of keeping your baby, whole family, and home safer can be incredibly cheap and even free when with this innovative phone-reuse concept.