Free CCTV using your old smartphone… how to set up an easy to use security or pet monitor in minutes

Heading on holiday and want to keep an eye on your home and pets? Here’s how to save £100s and set up a CCTV camera for free in just a few minutes.

Here’s all you need to know…

Home and away - you'll always be there with the help of an old smrtphone

Home and away – you’ll always be there with the help of an old smrtphone

First things first – do I need any technical skills?

No. If you can download an app, plug a smartphone into a charger and press go – you’ll be more than qualified.

How does the smartphone CCTV system work?

It’s simple! Your old smartphone connects to an app and transmits live video to your current mobile phone via an app. You can watch this from anywhere in the world where there’s internet connectivity.

You won’t need to spend your hols glued to your phone’s screen – the app has motion sensors that’ll alert you when something is happening back at home. You can also arm and disarm your ‘cameras’ from your remote position.

You can connect additional smartphones to the system, but more than one will require a small monthly fee from around £2 a month.

Home-based video can also be recorded to a remote server for you to reveal at a later date. This will require a paid subscription.

Great for home security and pet monitoring – from the comfort of your sunlounger.

Okay – what do I need to start?

First up, you’ll need at least one old smartphone or tablet. You can use any Apple phone or tablet with iOS 6 or higher as a camera, but to view your camera feeds remotely you’ll need a device running iOS 8 or higher. All devices must be logged in to the same Apple ID.

For Android devices you’ll need iOS 4.2 or higher to use the device as a camera or to view your camera feeds remotely. Check to see if your phone is compatible here. Many other apps are available, too.

What next?

First, you’ll need to download the Manything app to your old smartphone or tablet and create an account – to ensure your video stream is private to you.

Next, you’ll need to tap ‘camera’ to add the phone you’re using to the system.

You can now download the app and sign in to any extra ‘spare phones’ you’ll be using – along with your current smartphone to monitor the action from.

How do I place up my smartphone ‘cameras’?

The Manything app will stop your smartphone from entering sleep mode, so you’ll need to leave it connected to a charger. Turn the screen brightness right down and don’t leave it in direct sunlight to help prevent the device getting hot.

You can download a printable sun screen to shield devices from sunlight. Download the shield here.

Additionally, make sure you leave it on its side – the app records and transmits in landscape mode.

Now all you need to do is choose the best locations to cover. You can use a mini tripod or simply prop it up with whatever is handy.

Will I need to constantly watch the video feed?

Don’t worry, the app uses motion detection software to send alerts when movement is detected back at home. You can even set up zones to monitor.

There are varying levels of sensitivity to select. You’ll need to experiment to see which suits you best – whether it’s a shadow falling across the floor, or a burly crook raiding your biscuit barrel.

Can I have a mix of Android and iOS devices operating on the system?

Yes! Just log in using the same Manything account on all devices.

Apple phones might need activating to download the app in the first place.

If you have a current Apple device you can put the sim in the old device while you download the app – the old phone will then work without it once downloaded. If you have a SIM which is too small for the iPhone you are trying to activate you can purchase an adapter to suit.

Are there any other similar apps?

Yes. If Manything isn’t for you, just use Google to search for smartphone CCTV apps.

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