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Thursday, October 28, 2021

How to Turn Your Android Phone Into a Free High-Res Webcam


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Photo: ymgerman (Shutterstock)

Considering we’re living in the Age of the Video Meeting, if you are using a computer without a webcam, there’s a good chance you have the need for a quality video camera from time to time. Before you go out and buy a new webcam, though, you should consider converting your Android phone into a high-resolution camera. It’ll perform much better than the junky webcams most laptops ship with—and it’ll save you a few bucks, too.

What you need to use an Android phone as a webcam

We don’t recommend splurging on a brand new smartphone just to use it as a webcam. However, if you have an old or secondary Android phone lying around, you should repurpose it for your video calls.

As long as your phone’s rear camera works well, you have little to worry about. As far as spending is concerned, you’ll have to shell out a bit on a smartphone tripod and an Android app.

You can buy a good tripod for your smartphone, or—if you’re crafty—you could try to make your own. A quality tripod will be useful every time you want to record videos, though, which makes it a good investment.

How to use an Android phone as a high-resolution webcam

There are plenty of webcam apps on Android, but DroidCam is free, it’s reliable, and it’s highly rated on the Play Store. You can download and use the app for free with some limitations, including 480p video resolution, ads, and some missing video options, such as the ability to rotate or flip the camera. DroidCamX ($5.49) gets rid of these limitations, but the free version is perfectly serviceable.

Once you’ve downloaded the app on your phone, boot your PC or Linux machine and install the DroidCam client for desktops. With both apps installed, open DroidCam on your phone and PC. On the DroidCam app for Android, check the IP address and port. If you see a bunch of zeros in the IP address field, check if your phone is connected to the wifi.

On DroidCam for PC, click the wifi icon in the top left corner. Then, type the IP address and port number in their respective fields, and press Start.

You should begin seeing a camera feed on your PC. You can now use any tripod or phone stand to point the rear camera at yourself and use this feed for video calls via Zoom or other video meeting apps.

Note that we faced issues with connectivity when DroidCam’s phone and PC clients were on different frequencies on our wifi network. The setup doesn’t work if your phone is connected to the 5GHz band and the PC is on the 2.4GHz band, for example. As long as you ensure that both are on the same wifi network and the same band, you should be good to go.

DroidCam also supports wired connectivity via a USB cable but the steps are a bit too convoluted, so it’s probably not worth the hassle for most people. If you really want to try it, you can go to the app developer’s website and this page for more instructions (click Connect via USB (Android)).

Finally, it’s a good idea to keep the Android phone plugged in while you’re using it as a webcam. You don’t want it to run out of juice during an important video call because it’ll abruptly cut your video feed off.

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