Webcams are difficult to get from Amazon and other online retailers amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, which isn’t great for the millions of people worldwide that are currently working from home and in need of a new webcam for video calls. If you’re in need of a webcam for your home PC right now, you can also use your Android smartphone - and here, we show you how. 

How to use your Android smartphone as a webcam in Windows and Linux

  1. Install the free DroidCam Wireless Webcam app on your Android smartphone (or tablet). Advertising is shown in the free version, but you can always opt for the Pro version for £4.29/$4.49, removing the ads and introducing more advanced functionality including higher resolutions and extended camera settings.  
  2. Install the DroidCam client application on your computer, which is available to download on Windows and Linux - sorry Apple fans!
  3. Restart your computer to complete the install.
  4. Start the DroidCam application on both your Android and computer. Both devices must be connected to the same network, or alternatively, you can connect the smartphone to the computer via USB.
  5. When connecting via Wi-Fi, enter the IP address shown in the DroidCam server app on your smartphone in the DroidCam PC app under "Device IP", and check whether the port is entered correctly in the PC application (the default is 4747).
  6. Turn on the webcam functionality by clicking "Start" in the DroidCam client application on your computer. You should then be able to select the DroidCam as your default webcam device in the likes of Skype, Zoom and Google Hangouts. 
  7. In the DroidCam app on your smartphone, you can head to the settings (accessed via the familiar three-dot icon) and tap Camera to choose whether the front or rear-facing camera is used as a webcam input.

The limitations of using DroidCam

Being a workaround, you should expect some limitations compared to the standard webcam experience. DroidCam doesn’t always work perfectly, and there may be sound and image interference or delays. The camera app in Windows 10 does not recognize DroidCam as a webcam either.

In practice, it’s also worthwhile to invest in a smartphone stand if you don’t have one already - it’ll be much better than holding the phone in your hand or resting it awkwardly at an angle on your desk. You’ve got the option of going for a cheap tripod, or you can splash out a little more and opt for a flexible desk mount to get the perfect webcam angle.

Note: Due to the built-in battery, smartphones are not designed to be constantly connected to a power source, and it may damage the battery in the long-run. With that in mind, this workaround is only intended for short-term use and not as a permanent solution with continuous operation. 

For more, take a look at our selection of the best webcams right now. If you have a GoPro Hero Black (4-9) you can also use it as as webcam.

This article was originally published by Panagiotis Colokythas at PCWelt, and has been localised for a UK audience. 

Visit Home Hacks for more top tips and advice on dealing with the new normal.