A full year in the pandemic and it is always hard to find a good webcam for a price that won’t make your jaw drop. Whether for work or a week virtual board game night, interacting on video has become a necessity. Below we explain how you can use your smartphone (old or new, Android or iOS) as an alternative.
We also have a guide on how to use mirrorless camera or action camera as a webcam replacement, and a number of choices in our Best webcams guide.
Update March 2021: We have retested our recommendations and added new ones.
No PC required
Windows PC users
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How to make a video call with just your phone
Before trying to convert your smartphone to a webcam for your computer, it may be obvious to just try to use your smartphone to perform a video conference on its own. Most services like Zoom, Google meet, and Microsoft teams have Android and iPhone apps available. All you need to do is install the app, log in, and use your phone’s selfie camera and microphone to join the meeting.
Whether you do that or follow our methods below, invest in a small tripod to prop up your phone so you don’t have to balance it with a stack of books. The Joby GripTight is a popular and affordable tripod with legs that can twist to stay stable on almost any surface, although a height adjustable tripod like this might be a better choice. Lume Cube Mobile Creator Light Kit is also sturdy and comes with a light panel to brighten up your face.
Ways to use your phone as a webcam
You can use a video conferencing app on your phone if you just need to sit in a meeting and signal every now and then, but you’ll need a better system if you are presenting and need to share your screen. This is where it could help convert your smartphone to a webcam if you don’t have one for your desktop, or if your laptop’s isn’t working (or is at an odd angle).
General tip: Make sure your preferred video conferencing application is closed when you install a webcam client on your desktop or laptop computer. You may need to relaunch the application or restart your computer for everything to work.
How to use any phone as a webcam for a Windows PC
If you’re using a PC running Windows and using an Android phone or iPhone, one of the easiest (and wireless) methods is to use a app called DroidCam. It also works with Linux.
DroidCam is free, but it hides a few features like better video quality, contrast and sharpening tools, etc. DroidCamX application on Android, which also removes ads on the app. You can unlock similar features using the Improve feature in the settings of the iPhone app. Try the free version first, but maybe worth $ 5 if you use it a lot.