Almost everybody carries a phone with them these days and learning how to use a phone as a webcam can save you having to buy expensive and underperforming webcam units.
We’ll cover a bunch of different types of phones and setups to give you the most practical and functional guide possible.
We’ll guide you through the whole process, show you what you should avoid doing, and give you tips and tricks that we’ve learned over time and through countless mistakes.
Our goals are to save you as much time and to take the guesswork out of it. You’ll have quick access to a webcam on the go, and don’t need a degree in quantum computing to get it done. It’s foolproof and easy to follow.
Let’s jump into the guide.
How to Use a Phone as a Webcam – Where to Start
Getting started is often the hardest part – especially if you’ve never done this before. There are a couple of things you’ll need to take note of before getting started. Here they are:
- Your phone’s make and model
- Phone’s user manual (optional)
- A computer or laptop (Windows or Mac)
- USB cables to connect your phone to your laptop
- Good Wi-Fi for any wireless webcam use or streaming
These cover just the basics and we’ll point anything else you’ll need out along the way. With all your gear handy, let’s get started!
Related Article: How to Use iPad Camera – Everything You Should Know!
How to Use an iPhone as a Webcam
There are two options here: one is free; one will cost you around $8 depending on the cost of the app. This is still quite a bargain considering you’d have to pay many times over for a webcam or DSLR.
On your iPhone, head over to the play store and search for “EpocCam”.
There will be two apps with that name listed in the results. The app with the red icon is the paid version, and the app with the green icon is the free version.
The main difference between the two apps is that the paid version lets you record in 1080p and the free version caps the resolution at 720p. This can be quite a big difference and 1080p offers better quality and looks sharper.
Ultimately, it’s up to you, but if you’re going to be using the webcam for work then you might want to go for the 1080p option.
Once you’ve decided which version of the app you’re getting, download and install it. You might need to allow a couple of permission requests from the app for it to run properly.
Don’t open the app yet. Before you do, head over to www.kinoni.com and follow the instructions below:
- On the home page, scroll down to the “Four Simple Steps” section and go to #2
- Click on the download drivers option for Mac or Windows depending on the one you have
- Install it once it’s downloaded
Once it’s installed and opened, you can move onto connecting to your computer. We suggest using a USB cable for the best results and highest quality transmission.
You can use a Wi-Fi connection if you have to, but it shouldn’t be too hard to get your hands on the right USB cable.
Once you’ve connected to your computer, follow these instructions:
- Hit the settings icon
- Set connection method to “Automatic”
- Keep resolution as high as possible (720p on the free version and 1080p on the paid version)
- Leave chroma key and color as the default settings
- Click “Done”
Using this app, you can record from either the front or back camera. You should use the back (main) camera for the best results, as the front camera has a far lower native resolution.
You can also adjust the flash on/off and horizontally flip the image.
To complete the setup, open the software for the app that we downloaded earlier. Your phone should be connected and you should be ready to start using the EpocCam source as your webcam.
You can add this camera source to Skype, Zoom, etc. for quality that’s far superior to your computer’s native webcam.
Now you can use a phone as a webcam Zoom and other major video conferencing apps will allow. Play around with the process a little and find what works best for you.
Read Also: How to Use a DSLR as a Webcam
How to Use an Android Phone as a Webcam on Mac and Windows
Let’s start with connecting your android phone to a windows PC. Luckily this is quite an easy process.
Using an Android Phone with a Windows PC
Here are the steps you should follow:
- Download DroidCam wireless webcam to your phone and your Windows PC – you can use any app that’s compatible with Android and Windows, so long as you use the same app on both your PC and your Android phone
- Install the software and the app, allowing any permissions it requests
- Connect your phone to your PC via USB cable for the best results
- Open the app on your Android phone and customize the settings
- Remember to use the highest available resolution settings
- Open the software on you Windows PC to accept and process the connection
- Test it all out
Using Android phones with Windows will give you very little trouble when compared to the trickier process of connecting an Android phone to a Mac as a webcam.
Using an Android Phone with a Mac
When connecting your phone to a Mac as a webcam, you’ll need to head over to www.senstic.com.
You’re going to need a decent Wi-Fi network at your home for this method to work and connecting via USB poses its problems.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Download the “Pocket Cam” software for your Mac (if it meets the MacOS version requirements)
- Go to your Mac applications folder on your Mac and run “PocketControl”
- Connect your Android phone to your Wi-Fi network at home
- Install and open the PocketCam app on your Android device
- Once the app opens, and your phone and Mac are connected to the same Wi-Fi, your phone will be automatically connected to your Mac
- You’ll know this when you see “Connected to your_computer’s_name: port”
- Open the video conferencing app (or the app you’re going to use the webcam with, and select PocketCam as the virtual camera source
P.S. You need to have the right version of Mac OS installed or the software won’t support it. You can check these requirements when you’re on their home page. There’s also a slight delay of less than a second for your video to display on your Mac screen.
How to Use a Phone as a Webcam with Streamlabs OBS
You might think that Streamlabs OBS is only for streaming live to Facebook, Twitch, etc. It’s recently come out with a mobile version that lets you use your phone’s camera to record footage.
You can capture the display of your phone along with what your front camera or rear camera is looking at. You have the choice to just use the camera if that’s what you’re going for.
In this section, we’re not going to look at the mobile version of Streamlabs OBS, but rather the PC version. We want you to be able to add your phone as a video source to Streamlabs OBS and use it as a webcam.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Head to the play store and search for VCam
- Download and install this app
- Fiddle around with the settings in the app to get familiar with how they all work
Now that you’ve got the app up and running on your phone, it’s time to set it up as a video source in Streamlabs.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Connect your phone to your PC via USB
- Open Streamlabs OBS
- Locate the box labeled “Sources” in the center of the bottom half of your screen
- In the upper right corner of this box, click the “+” sign
- Click on “Video Capture Device”
- Click “Add Source” in the bottom left corner of the window
- Click on the slider that says “Add a new source instead” so that it turns green
- Type in the name you want your new webcam to have so you can recognize it easily in the future
- Click “Add Source”
That should bring you to a new window. The video that shows up is likely to be your computer’s inbuilt webcam. If it is, don’t worry, we’ll change this all now. Here’s what you need to do next:
- Opposite the “Device” heading on the left side of the window, click the scroll down menu
- From the list, select the VCam option and click on it (make sure your phone is one and connected via USB to your PC
- You should see the video in the little windows change to what is showing from your phone’s camera
- You can then configure the resolution and FPS if the options are available
- Once you’ve gone through the setting and you’re ready, click on “Done” in the bottom right of the window
You’ve now added your phone as a webcam into Streamlabs OBS. Play around with the settings in the VCam app on your phone if you want to mess with the color, brightness, flash, etc.
Some Common Problems You Might Run Into
As with all technical tasks, you’re likely to come across some minor issues here and there. In this section, we’re going to cover some of the things you can do to troubleshoot or work your way through the issues.
What to Do if My PC Doesn’t Detect My Phone
This is a common issue if you’re connecting via USB. Here are some checks you can go through and see if any of them work for you:
- Some android phones require you to allow the connection. For example, on OnePlus phones, you’ll need to drag down the notification bar and choose the type of connection you want to make to the PC
- Make sure the USB cable is working
- Check to see that your phone screen is one and you’ve put in your password
- Update you drivers on your PC – you can use a free tool like DriverEasy to see which of your drivers need to be updated
- If you’re connecting over Wi-Fi, make sure your connection isn’t being blocked by the firewall
- Make sure you put the correct IP address of your phone into the PC
- Update the software and app you’re using to facilitate the webcam to the latest versions
- Try a different USB port on your PC
- Unplug your phone and restart both your phone and the PC
You’ll hopefully find a fix among these tips and get the webcam connected and working.
Tips for Getting Better Quality Webcam Video
There’s nothing worse than grainy video and cracking sound during a video call. Here are some tips to improve the overall quality of your webcam video and audio:
- Adjust the resolution setting of the recording app on your phone – get it as close to 1080p as possible
- If the lighting is low, many mobile webcam apps allow you to use the flash while recording (if it’s too bright, put a piece of white material over the LED to soften the light)
- Use an external light – you can find cheap streaming light rings to better light your face and the scene
- Use an external microphone – connect it to your PC or phone and add it as an audio source
- If you’ve connected to your PC via Wi-Fi, make sure all other devices are disconnected to give you the fastest and highest quality connection
- Always use the main camera on your phone and not the selfie camera – it’s much higher resolution and the quality is far superior
We’ve covered a bunch of different setups and device combinations in this guide. Remember that you can change software for something you’re familiar with – just make sure it’s compatible with the devices you’ve got.
You should now have a very clear plan for how to use a phone as a webcam. With a little practice, you’ll be getting clear images and smooth audio – enjoy!