How to use your iPhone or Android as a webcam: it’s actually simple

Your phone can easily become a webcam for video conferencing.

Erlon Silva / TRI Digital / Getty Images

Although coronavirus vaccines are still in progress, the spread of delta variant This means that it may still be some time before we all return to our desks and social gatherings the same way we did before. This means that you probably still spend a lot of time chatting with your colleagues, family and friends through video chat and conference apps such as Zoom, Microsoft teams and FaceTime. (If you are using Zoom, here is 20 top zoom tips, including how to change your zoom background.) If the webcams you watch are still Out of stock or if you just don’t want to buy a new one, you can easily use your phone’s camera and make one for yourself.

As long as the phone you are using is no more than a few years old, the picture quality should be better than your laptop’s default camera, more functional, and easier to position so you don’t shoot. your double chin or straight 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 (see below) has special features, but you don’t need to have one to use your phone’s camera for video chats.

You can also just launch the app for your video chat service of choice, like Zoom, Skype or FaceTime, and chat directly there. However, there are steps you can take to ensure that the quality of your video is the best it can be. Read on.

Read more: Best equipment 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 high-performance smartphone into a webcam.

Webcam apps for Android phones

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

Because I am using a Mac, I opted for EpocCam Webcam.

Webcam apps for iPhone

I tried EpocCam Webcam (free, or $ 8 or $ 20 for professional versions), iCam ($ 5), and iVCam (free). All of them 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 ($ 369 at Amazon) users who have Windows computers, not Macs. (Update: Another option is the NDI HX Camera app – it 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 for it. to give the app permission to access your camera and microphone.

To be aware

Running the app frequently may drain your phone’s battery, so you may want to connect your phone to a external power bank or position your installation near a wall outlet if you need a charge.

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 options for zoom and focus. The iPhone 13, Samsung galaxy s21 and many other high-end smartphones have sharper resolution at 1080p than some of the latest MacBook models, which incorporates a 720p webcam. For best results using your phone as a webcam, use this rear camera instead of the front selfie camera.

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

Read more: How to become a YouTuber: online lessons and equipment to get started

Stabilize your phone

Avoid twitching your arm or hitting an unflattering angle by stabilizing your phone on a tripod, stand, or table stand. This will give you the least shaky and professional results. (CNET recommends this $ 30 mini tripod from Manfrotto.)

Set up lighting

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

Invest in a microphone

Your AirPods ($ 119 at Amazon) or other headphones with a built-in mic will do the job, 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 every meeting is a video meeting – and potentially help you find a new use for your old phone. For more ways to reuse your old phones, check out how to turn your old phone into a home security camera for free, and how to find new uses for that old Android phone or iPhone.


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