Do not buy a security camera. Just turn the old phone into one

A hand holding a telephone

Use Manything, Salient Eye or a similar free app to turn an old phone into a security camera.

Chris Monroe / CNET

The cheapest way to spot your house when you’re not there? Safely messing around in your junk drawer and converting one of your old smartphones into a security camera. Most people have at least one old phone that collects dust in a drawer somewhere. You save a ton of money by upcycling an old phone instead buy a new home security camera. And it’s not hard to set it up. In fact, you can start using the old, dusty iPhone or Android phone as a home security camera with just three steps.

Of course, you can sell your old phone or make a swap for a fraction of the purchase price, but if it still turns on, there are a number good uses for old phones around the house. You can turn your old Android phone into one babyalarm or a temporary Google Home speaker, e.g. One of the most useful ways to upcycle an old phone is to convert it to one home security camera.

Read more: 8 reasons not to sell or trade your old iPhone and 9 ingenious ways to give your old Android phone new life

Step 1: Install a security camera app on your old phone

To get started, select a security camera app for your phone. Most apps offer many of the same features, such as local streaming, cloud streaming, recording and storing recordings locally or remotely, and motion detection and alerts. Once configured, you will be able to monitor your living space and control your security camera anywhere, right from your new phone.

One of the best app options for configuring your phone as a security camera is Alfred. It’s across platforms, so it does not matter if your old phone was one Android phone or iPhone. And the same goes for your new phone.

Alfred is free to use and gives you a TV of your live feed, motion detection with alerts, free cloud storage, a two-way audio feed and use of both front and rear camera. To unlock additional features such as higher resolution viewing and shooting, zoom features, ad removal and 30-day cloud storage, you can upgrade to Alfred Premium.

  1. Download Alfred (Android, iOS) on both your old and new phones or any tablet you want to use.
  2. On the new phone, swipe through the introduction and press Start. choose Seer and press Next.
  3. When you get to the login page, click Sign in with Google (a Google Account is required) and sign in with your Google Account information.
  4. Repeat the same steps on the old phone, but instead of selecting Seerchoose Camera. And be sure to sign in to the same Google Account.

Once both phones are logged in to Alfred, you are pretty much done with the setup. Alfred has simplified the camera options to include only a few settings. On iOS, you can only enable motion detection, choose between front and rear cameras and enable or disable sound. If you use an Android device, you have these options, and you can also enable continuous focus, have Alfred automatically reopen if the phone restarts, set a resolution, and enable a password lock.

From your new phone, you can change a few more settings, such as turning notifications on or off, entering a camera or viewer name, adding other people to your Confidence circle (gives other people access to your video feeds), removes a camera, checks how many times a camera has interrupted, sets the sensitivity for motion detection, and activates a low light filter on cameras.

While Alfred is a solid choice, keep in mind that it is not only choice. Far from it, actually. Many things, Prominent eye and Presence are all solid free choices with an affordable subscription model if you need more features. And IP Webcam is one of the more popular Android-only options.

Step 2: Select a location for your phone security camera

Once you have streamed up to run, configure and position the camera. You may want it focused on the main entrance to your home, your backyard, the place where you store valuables, or a point you think may be particularly vulnerable. You can also set up an IP camera as a baby monitor.

If you have several old phones lying around, you can set up several cameras for a fairly robust video coverage.

Step 3: Mount and turn on your new security camera

To mount or place the camera, a small smartphone stand or suction cup car holder can do wonders and help you place the camera in a conspicuous place. To expand your field of vision, consider buying a wide-angle lens for your phone, which can be purchased for between $ 5 and $ 20 online.

Video streaming is very power consuming and the phone will be on 24/7. To prevent the phone from dying for the first few hours, place it close to a power source. A 10-foot Micro-USB or Lightning cable will give you more flexibility in where you place it.

And that’s it! Now you can use the security camera app on your new phone to view the feed from your old phone’s camera and you have made your home more secure without spending much.

While you’re here, check it out six quick tips to get the most out of your home security camerahow use your Alexa device as a home security camera and best DIY home security systems.

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