In late 2021 and more than a year into the pandemic, anything that can be done virtually is done virtually. But webcams (and cameras in general) are expensive. Odds are good that you’ve wondered whether you can use your cell phone as a webcam.
Thankfully, whether you need to lead a work Zoom call, record a video podcast, or host a live-streamed yoga class, it’s possible to use your smartphone as a webcam alternative.
This post will show you how to use a phone as a webcam for HD recordings—whether you have an Android or iPhone—and some best practices to keep in mind if you’re hoping to look and sound your best.
Benefits of Using Your Phone as a Webcam
Perhaps your budget is limited, or you simply don’t like the idea of cluttering your space with multiple gadgets. Whatever your reason for not purchasing a camera, there are also benefits to be had from relying on your smartphone.
Some of our favorite upsides include:
- Convenience. Your phone is on you at all times, right? That’s one fewer thing you’ll need to remember to bring with you for your next video chat or podcast recording.
- Better quality than your laptop. If you’re making the choice between using the built-in camera in your computer vs. the one in your phone, go with your phone. It’s likely your Android or iPhone has a more powerful camera and can capture clearer images than your laptop can.
- Lower cost. Beginner podcasters and content creators may not have the funds to build a professional recording studio—but that’s okay! A phone can be an excellent and cost-effective way to get started while still recording in good quality.
How to Use Your Android Device as a Webcam
There are many apps on the market—both free and paid—promising to turn your Android phone into a webcam. Below, we’ll look at two options for Windows and Mac users.
Using an Android Phone with a Windows PC
One of the most popular free apps for Android users is DroidCam, which works with Windows and Linux computers. To use DroidCam to turn your Android phone into a webcam, do the following:
- Download the phone app from the Google Play Store and be sure to download the corresponding Windows desktop client onto your computer.
- Open both apps on both devices (making sure both devices are using the same wi-fi network). Give the Android app permission to access your microphone and camera.
- You’ll need to connect your phone app to the Windows client. To do this, simply enter the “Wi-Fi IP” and “DroidCam Port” numbers on the phone app into the PC software fields reading “Device IP” and “DroidCam Port.”
- Next, it’s time to launch the camera by clicking the Start button. You should be able to see the feed from your phone’s camera in the window on your PC.
From here, integrating your phone-turned-webcam with recording programs like Riverside.fm is simple. Just navigate to Riverside’s settings and select “DroidCam” and “DroidCam Virtual Audio” as the camera and microphone inputs of choice.
Using an Android Phone with a Mac
If you have the unlikely combo of an Android phone and a Mac computer, don’t fret! There’s still an app for you. We suggest checking out Iriun, which is a solid if minimalist option. To get started, simply:
- Download the android app on the Google Play Store and the MacOS app from Iriun’s website.
- Launch both apps, which should automatically pair with each other.
That’s it—you’re ready to select Iriun as the camera input in your video calling or recording software of choice.
How to Use an iPhone as a Webcam
If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, there are several apps available to turn it into a webcam. One of the most popular is the Camo app from Reincubate. It has a free version that records in up to 720p quality, or a $5/month paid membership that records in up to 1080p. And Camo works whether you want to connect your iOS device to Mac or Windows.
To set up Camo on your iPhone or iPad, simply:
- Download the Camo iPhone app on the App Store. Grant it permission to use your mic and camera.
- Download the Mac or Windows software to your computer.
- Plug your phone into your computer using a USB cable or lightning cord, making sure the Camo app is open while you do it.
Now you should be good to go! Simply open your video chat or recording software of choice and make sure “Reincubate Camo” is selected as the webcam input. You’ll need to keep the desktop app open while you’re on the video call to maintain a connection.
While Camo is a popular and easy-to-use app, one drawback is that it requires a USB connection. Using a USB can help preserve your phone’s battery life, but it’s not preferable for everyone.
If you’d rather connect your iPhone as a webcam over wifi to your Mac or Windows computer, we recommend using EpocCam.
To use this app, simply download it from the App Store and follow the prompts to install the appropriate drivers on your Mac or PC. Once the drivers are installed, you should be able to launch the app on your computer and see the feed from your phone’s camera.
While the free version of EpocCam is rather limited, the paid version lets users stream in resolutions up to 1080p.
How to Use a Phone as a Webcam with Streamlabs OBS
If you use Streamlabs OBS to live stream Twitch or other video content for social media, you probably want the ability to stream on the go. That’s where being able to use your phone as a webcam comes in handy.
First, you’ll just need to choose an app like one of the options listed above. Then in your OBS dashboard, simply complete the following steps:
- Add a new Source by clicking the “+” button in the Sources box.
- Select “Video Capture Device.”
- Name the device (for instance, “iPhone”)
- In the setup box, select the webcam app that you’re using (for instance, “EpochCam Camera”) from the device dropdown menu.
What to Do If Your PC Doesn’t Detect Your Phone
One of the most common problems you might run into if you’re using your phone as a webcam is that your computer doesn’t detect it for some reason. If you are trying to connect over a wifi network, first try connecting via USB.
If that still doesn’t work, try the following troubleshooting tips:
- Make sure the webcam app and PC drivers are all up-to-date
- Ensure the phone screen is unlocked
- Try a different USB cable (in case the first one wasn’t working)
- Try another USB port on your PC
- Restart both your phone and computer
Tips for Looking and Sounding Your Best on Video Calls
Now that you have some options for capturing high-quality webcam recordings, it’s time to think about how to maximize your results by looking and sounding your best. Below, we’ll give you four keys to appearing professional and prepared on your next video call.
Set up Some Lighting
If possible, choose a spacious room that has plenty of natural light. Open your blinds or curtains and let as much sunlight into the room as possible.
A ring light is also a great investment if you want to look your best. They highlight your face in a flattering way, and many come with different color modes (like cool, warm, and daylight) to let you select the look that works best for you.
If you don’t have a ring light, place a bright lamp behind your computer screen to approximate the effect. Whatever lighting you use, be sure to keep the largest light source in front of you—shining on your face. If the light is behind you, you’ll be backlit and your face will be thrown into shadow.
Use Your Phone's Main Camera
Make sure to use the rear-facing camera in your phone rather than the selfie camera. That lens will capture a higher quality image and give you more options as well (like focusing and zooming).
Stabilize Your Phone
The quickest way to appear amateurish is to try to hold your phone in your hand while it’s functioning as a webcam. Your image will appear shaky, and it may sink into an unflattering angle as your arm gets tired.
Instead, use a tripod or mount to hold your phone during your recording. That way, you can select the right angle before recording, and your results will look as professional as possible.
Invest in a Microphone
Finally, use an external microphone to get the best sound. You can opt to use the built-in mic in your headphones if you’re short on time or funds, but a good external mic will boost you to the next level. Check out our guide to choosing the right microphone to find the best mic for your budget and needs.
How Can I Use My Phone as a Webcam Without an App?
Of course, the simplest way to use your phone as a webcam is to bypass the need for a computer altogether. If you can, download the mobile app version of whatever recording or conferencing software you’re using.
Whether you use this route depends on the goal of your recording and which software you’re using. Recording a Skype or Zoom call directly from your phone, for instance, might be easy—but the audio and video quality will be extremely lacking.
If you just need to get on a work call, recording quality probably isn’t something you’re worried about. But if you’re looking to record a remote podcast interview or a live stream for your brand’s social media feed, the recorded footage probably needs to be up to higher standards.
Thankfully, Riverside.fm offers an iOS app that helps take some of the headaches out of recording video interviews. Participants can join the call from their phones with a single tap, and then record video in HD directly within the app. If you’re looking for quality results from your phone without needing to download and set up multiple applications, Riverside’s recording software is probably for you.
Not everyone can afford an expensive camera—but thankfully, you can make your smartphone act like one. Whether you have an Android or an iPhone, there are many apps on the market today that make it easy to turn your smartphone camera into a recording device for your next virtual recording.
To maximize the end result of your phone-turned-webcam recording, be sure to use proper lighting methods and record with your phone’s main camera. Use an external mic and a tripod for more polished audio and video.
And if you’d rather bypass the additional apps altogether and record directly from the video conferencing app, consider using Riverside.fm’s recording software, which offers an iOS app that’s easy to use without sacrificing audio or video quality.