Skip to main content

How to turn your old phone into a security camera

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 When you get down to it, even the most outdated phone is still a palm-sized computer stuffed with advanced sensor tech.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.


Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 Camera

Image used with permission by copyright holder

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.


best security apps
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.


best security apps
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

best security apps
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 alerts you to both sound and motion, as well as allowing you to talk to your little one remotely. This baby monitor can also play a lullaby or soothing white noise to help your baby get to sleep. Since it’s compatible with the Apple Watch, you can get motion or noise alerts right on your wrist no matter where you are.

Cloud Baby Monitor is also compatible with Mac computers, which includes both baby monitors and security operations. This baby monitor lets you keep an eye on your little one or your home using iOS while you’re out running errands or at work.

It can be challenging to figure out what to do with an old cell phone if you upgrade to a new one. Naturally, it’s not a good idea to throw it away only for it to sit for decades in a landfill, but you also don’t want to throw it in your junk drawer and let it sit there for years, either. It’s ideal to reuse your old electronics when you can, and Cloud Baby Monitor enables you to do that.

All it takes is the download of one simple app, and you can reuse your old cell phone and turn it into a small, portable security camera or a baby monitor. You don’t have to shell out a bunch of money to keep your baby, family, and home protected; repurpose your cell phone and enjoy peace of mind without paying a penny.


Editors' Recommendations

Tyler Lacoma
If it can be streamed, voice-activated, made better with an app, or beaten by mashing buttons, Tyler's into it. When he's not…
How much does it cost to install security cameras?
Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro on wall.

The cost of installing security cameras varies widely, and there are multiple factors you need to consider beyond the initial price. If you choose to have them professionally installed, expect to pay more than if you put them up yourself. You’ll also want to look at ongoing subscriptions and memberships, which are often required for most products -- including popular ones from Ring, Blink, and Arlo.

Trying to figure out your budget before investing in security cameras? Here’s a closer look at every expense you’ll incur during the process.
How much will installation add to your bill?

Read more
How to set up your smart home for beginners
Vont Smart LED Light Strip installed in home.

If you’re just beginning your smart home journey, it can be difficult to figure out where to start. From smart thermostats and smart speakers to robot vacuums and light bulbs, the number of gadgets on the market is truly staggering -- and can quickly become overwhelming to newcomers.

Thankfully, piecing together a smart home is pretty simple. While you can easily sink hours into automating every aspect of your household, all that's really required for a “smart home” is a few products and their accompanying apps on your phone. If you need some guidance getting started, here are some tips to help set up your smart home.

Read more
SimpliSafe now offers live home monitoring with new Smart Alarm Wireless Indoor Security Camera
The SimpliSafe Smart Alarm Indoor Camera.

SimpliSafe is already one of the best options when shopping for home security solutions, and it’s looking to become even more enticing with the launch of the new Smart Alarm Indoor Camera. Coinciding with the latest product is a new service -- 24/7 Live Guard Protection -- which allows agents to access a live feed of your property for enhanced response times.

The 24/7 Live Guard Protection service is only available on the Smart Alarm Indoor Camera. Previously, SimpliSafe agents could only review recorded footage after an alarm was triggered. Now, the team can monitor a live stream through the Smart Alarm Indoor Camera for improved response times. They can even interact with the intruder thanks to two-way audio, informing them that the police are on the way and that they’re being recorded.

Read more