How to use your smartphone as a webcam wirelessly or via USB

How to use your smartphone as a webcam wirelessly or via USB

Does the webcam on your notebook deliver poor quality video, or do you use a desktop PC that lacks a camera? Here's how you can easily connect your smartphone and use it as a webcam for video calls and vlogs. NextPit shows how you can do so wirelessly or via a standard USB cable.

Smartphones these days come with excellent cameras, and the built-in microphones are also more than capable of delivering proper audio quality. Hence, it makes sense to use your smartphone as a webcam on your laptop or PC. If that's exactly what you're thinking, you've come to the right place!

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to use your smartphone as a webcam on your PC, with a choice of doing so wirelessly or via a cable. In each case, you will need to download a free app. Since this guide works with both Android and iOS smartphones, I will divide this tutorial as follows:

Table of contents:

  1. Using an Android smartphone as a webcam
    1. Wired
    2. Wireless via WLAN or Bluetooth
  2. Use an iPhone as a webcam
  3. Pro tip: Buy a smartphone tripod

Of course, the entire article is especially practical if you permanently install your smartphone as a webcam. Do you still have an old smartphone lying around unused? Read more about upcycling old smartphones in the linked article.

Use your Android smartphone as a webcam

In my opinion, the best webcam app for Android is "DroidCam - Webcam for PC". The application is available for free in the Google Play Store. Click on the link below to download it onto your smartphone:

After installation, the app will launch an installation wizard. If you don't know what to do, we will go through the steps together below. Oh yes, you still have to grant access to the smartphone camera and microphone for the app, and once done, you're good to go.

Wired

Once you have installed the app, you can set your smartphone aside for the time being. For Droidcam to communicate with your PC, it will need a client. This is available as a free download for Linux and Windows operating systems via the developer's homepage.

Install the client and then switch your attention to your smartphone. For Droidcam to find your smartphone as a webcam, you need to enable USB debugging in the developer settings. If you don't know how to unlock the developer settings on your Android smartphone, you can find out in the linked instructions.

DroidCam 02 NextPit
To use Droidcam, you need to enable USB debugging on your smartphone / © Droidcam / Screenshot: NextPit

After that, your smartphone should show up in the list of devices for Droidcam if it is connected to your PC via USB. Make sure that your smartphone also has data sharing enabled. If it is only charging, you will need to enable that via the notification bar.

By now, Droidcam should find your smartphone - and ideally, you can see your desktop right now via video stream in the program. If not, make sure that Droidcam is running on both your smartphone and PC. By the way, this is how it has to remain as well for use with Skype, Google Meet, and other similar apps.

DroidCam NextPit
You can download the Droidcam client for free on the Internet / © Droidcam / Screenshot: NextPit

In the settings of your video chat program under "Camera", you can now switch to one of the Droidcam listings and begin to make calls.

Wireless

As mentioned previously, the entire setup can be wireless. The advantage to this is obvious - there is no need to connect your smartphone to the computer, allowing you to move around while providing additional flexibility. The disadvantage here is, should you run out of battery when you use Droidcam without a USB cable, you won't have a webcam to play with anymore! The setup is also very easy to do, which is a good thing.

DroidCam NextPit 03
Thanks to Droidcam, you can connect your smartphone to your PC wirelessly / © Droidcam / Screenshot: NextPit

In the Droidcam app, you will have to look up the Wi-Fi IP address of your smartphone and enter it into the corresponding field of the PC client. Now, switch back to your video chat app and select Droidcam as your webcam of choice. Again, this will only work if the software is running on both the smartphone and the PC.

Tip: Droidcam also provides a video feed via the IP address, which you can view via your browser. So you can use your old smartphone as a security camera or you can watch how the fries are baking in the oven from your desk. Handy!

Using your iPhone as a webcam

On your iPhone, the procedure is similar to that on Android. We recommend using the app "EpocCam HD Webcam", which allows a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels at 30 frames per second in the free version. This should be sufficient for video calls. You can install the app via the following link:

As with Droidcam, you'll need to download a PC client, and what do you know? There is also a version for MacOS. Just follow the link below and download EpocCam for your Mac:

Connecting the devices will be slightly easier than doing so on Android, because you don't need to enable USB debugging. Instead, EpocCam's two clients will simply sync on their own and set up a video stream after a while. Now switch back to your video chat client and select the software as your webcam.

Tip: Buy a smartphone tripod

Well, did setting up your smartphone as a webcam work as shared in the tips above? If so, I have one last pro-tip for you. Buy a smartphone tripod and place it on your desk. That way, you don't have to hold your smartphone in your hand all the time and it won't shake as much when you're Skyping or being in the midst of a video conference call.

What do you think of this solution to use your smartphone as a webcam? Will you use it for future video calls or do you find it too cumbersome?

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