How to easily use your iPhone or Android as a webcam

Your phone can easily become a webcam for video conferencing.

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Although coronavirus vaccines are still ongoing, the spread of the delta and omicron variants means that it may still be some time before we all return to our offices and social gatherings in the same way as we did before. This means that you probably still spend a lot of time talking with your colleagues, family and friends via video chat and conferencing apps such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and FaceTime. (If you’re using Zoom, here’s 20 Best Zoom Tipsincluding how to change your zoom background.) If the webcams you’ve been eyeing are still Out of stock or you just don’t want to buy a new one, you can easily use your phone’s camera and create one for yourself.

As long as the phone you’re using isn’t more than a few years old, the image quality should be better than your laptop’s default camera, more functional, and easier to position so you don’t film not your double chin or directly your nose.

Here’s how to turn your phone into a webcam for free.

You don’t even need a webcam app

A dedicated webcam app (more below) has some special features, but you don’t need to have one to use your phone’s camera for video chats.

You can also simply launch the video chat service application of your choice, such as Zoom, Skype or FaceTime, and chat directly there. However, there are steps you can take to ensure that your video quality is the best it can be. Continue reading.

Read more: Best Gear for Home Video Chats: Webcams, Lights, Microphones and More

Find and download the right webcam app for Android or iPhone

There are dozens of free and paid apps that can help you turn your busy smartphone into a webcam.

webcam apps for android phones

I tried IP-webcam (free, or $4 for the Pro version), DroidCam (free, or $5 for the Pro version), and Webcam EpocCam (free, or $5 for the Pro version). DroidCam had the clearest instructions in the app, but only works with Windows or Linux machines. The same was true for the IP webcam.

Because I use a Mac, I opted for EpocCam Webcam.

webcam apps for iphone

I tried Webcam EpocCam (free, or $8 or $20 for professional versions), iCam ($5) and iVCam (free). All were pretty easy to set up, once you found the instruction pages on their websites. EpocCam and iCam work for Windows or MacOS machines, while iVCam works for iPhone ($317 on Amazon) users who have Windows computers, not Macs. (Update: Another option is the NDI HX camera app – this costs $20 and allows iPhones to be used as HD webcams.)

For any webcam application

Whatever you download, read the privacy policy, install it, and follow the instructions to connect it to your computer (you may need to download a driver or run it through a browser or other viewer.) You will be prompted to give the app permission to access your camera and microphone.

Know

Running the app frequently can drain your phone’s battery, so you can connect your phone to a external power bank or place your setup near a wall outlet if you need charging.

Read more: Ultimate Webcam Tips: How to Look and Sound Great Online

Use your phone’s main camera

Your phone’s main camera will produce a higher quality image than the selfie camera, and with more zoom and focus options as well. the iPhone 13, Galaxy S21 and many other high-end smartphones have a sharper resolution at 1080p than some of the latest MacBook models, which have a built-in 720p webcam. For best results of using your phone as a webcam, use this rear camera instead of the front selfie camera.

Webcam apps and video chat apps will often let you select options such as video resolution, quality, and orientation, as well as focus, white balance, and color effects.

Read more: How to Become a YouTuber: Online Courses and Gear to Get Started

Stabilize your phone

Avoid getting your arm caught or reaching an unflattering angle by stabilizing your phone on a tripod, stand, or table stand. This will give you the least flimsy and most professional results. (CNET recommends this $30 mini tripod by Manfrotto.)

Install some lighting

Whether you work in a home office, at your kitchen table or on your bed, you’ll need good lighting to make your face look brighter, eliminate shadows, and maybe hide a wrinkle or two. Consider purchasing a ring light. (CNET recommends this $25 base model which comes with 36 LEDs, a clip mount and three light modes.)

Invest in a microphone

Your AirPods ($100 at Amazon) or other headphones with a built-in mic will do, but if you’re using your new DIY webcam to record something professionally, you should invest in a good microphone. (CNET recommends this Blue Yeti USB Microphone for $130 or this Shure MV88+ Video Kit with Digital Stereo Condenser Microphone for $249.)

These tips should help you create a better home office and video conferencing setup now that almost all meetings are video conferencing – and potentially help you find a new use for your old phone, too. For more ways to reuse your old phones, check out how to turn your old phone into a home security camera for freeand how to find new uses for that old android phone or iphone.


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