Ever wondered what to do with that old smartphone you tossed into the junk drawer after getting a new one? Here’s an idea that will give that old phone new life—and protect your home!

One of the most useful ways to reuse an old phone is to make it into a home security camera. Once you’re set up, you will be able to monitor your living space and control your security camera from anywhere, right from your new phone.

To begin, you will need to choose a security-camera app for your phone. Most apps offer standard features like local streaming, cloud streaming, recording and storing footage locally or remotely, and motion detection and alerts. There are a number of impressive, free choices available for both Android smartphones or iPhones—including highly recommended apps like Alfred, Manything (short for “monitor anything”), Home Eye, or Presence, all of which will work on either platform.

Generally, you’ll need to download the app on both your old and new phone, and follow a few simple installation and setup steps to get started. Once both phones are signed in to the app, the old phone serves as your security camera. You’ll need to set it up at a point you most want to monitor, like the main entry of your home, backyard, or a place where you store valuables.  Mounting it on a smartphone tripod, or a car mount, will help stabilize it in place.

Your security app will provide a live-feed from the old phone’s camera to your new phone using streaming video. Keep in mind that streaming video uses a lot of battery power, so you’ll also want to keep the older “camera” phone charged regularly. If possible, position it near a power source and leave it plugged in—that way, you can have it monitoring 24/7 without worry.

If you’ve got an older smartphone gathering dust, put it to work for you! Explore home security apps at the Google Play or Apple App store. You’re sure to find one that’s just right for you.


  1. Marykay Mc Kinnis says

    I have the security camera will any security system work

  2. Catherine M. Lipps says

    Wow! I wonder how that person came up with that idea, probably sitting on the couch drinking a cold beverage wondering how he could protect his family, dog, assets on a very strict budget. Good commercial idea.
    Thanks for that information.
    Catherine M. Lipps

  3. Gary Kaliher says

    Does this use data from my active Consumer Cellular phone.

  4. Michael says

    Do I need a SIM card in the security camera phone?

    • Hi Michael, thanks for your question. If you’re using it for just the camera function, it wouldn’t need a SIM card. You would need a WiFi connection though to download the security app onto the old phone and get logged in since it won’t have an active SIM to connect it to a data network.

  5. johnny lee PEARSON says

    very helpful information.

  6. John says

    My old phone was deactived when I started using my new phone. Same phone, I don’t think two phones can have the same number. What do you think? thank you, John

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      That’s correct, John. A number can only be assigned to one phone at a time.

  7. Mitch VanZalinge says

    Does the security app cost ?

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Mitch, the apps we’ve listed (Alfred, Manything, Home Eye, and Presence) are free apps.

  8. Linda Jones says

    Would it work putting the camera phone in window facing out?

  9. Rachael Smith says

    Consumer cellular,which phone service are you with,Verizon or at&t

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Rachael, we use both AT&T and T-Mobile towers for our service. You can also review our coverage here.

  10. Brad says

    To follow-up with John’s question, Can a deactivated phone be used for this purpose? Brad
    John says
    NOVEMBER 3, 2020 AT 11:26 AM
    My old phone was deactived when I started using my new phone. Same phone, I don’t think two phones can have the same number. What do you think? thank you, John

    • Hi Brad, thanks for your post. That is correct, once a new phone is activated, it shuts the old one down so that way calls are just going to one phone. There can only be one active SIM associated with a number which is why it shuts the one down and moves service to the new phone.

    • Tickette says

      Yes, a deactivated phone can be used. It does not have to be active to be used as a camera.

  11. Susie says

    Does is cost to use the old phone as a security camera ?

    • Hi Susie, thanks for your question. Since the line isn’t active with that phone, there’s no cost through us. There shouldn’t be an extra cost to use an old phone as a camera if you already have the service already set up through a company. You can always reach out to the company that is used for that to make sure as well.

  12. Rick says

    How does one get the required App to the “old ANDROID phone”? Must it be downloaded before deactivation (of the old phone)? I’ll be switching from an old MOTO to a newer version MOTO.

    • Hi Rick, thanks for your question. It doesn’t need to be an active phone to download it as long as there is a WiFi connection. The WiFi connection would allow for you to download it even once it’s no longer active on the network.

  13. Brad says

    So my deactivated phone (camera), would transfer data via my WiFi network?

  14. Chuck May says

    Does the security camera ap need to be loaded into the old phone before the phone is deactivated? Can it be loaded from the net after phone is deactivated?

  15. Rick says

    Thanks for the answer, and thanks to all for the discussion.
    Life’s school is never over.

  16. Rick says

    Can the “Old Camera” be viewed on a Desktop computer? If so, how to set it up.

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Rick, that would depend on the app that you’re using for the camera. I recommend checking some of the apps listed to see if they can be viewed on a computer.

  17. Nancie Wolfer says

    I’m considering replacing my Android phone with an iPhone. Can I use the Android as a camera and see the video on the iPhone or would the 2 different apps be incompatible?

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      That’s a great question, Nancie. The apps recommended in our post are able to be used on both iPhones and Android phones. You should be able to use the Android device as the camera while viewing the video on the iPhone, though I recommend double-checking with the app developer.

  18. Don says

    I currently have 5 old phones being used as security cameras with the app Alfred. It works well. I am able to view the cameras and their recordings on my PC. The biggest drawback I have found is that if your phone sits in a window with direct sunlight it will swell the batteries and they will quit working. I paid a little extra for the Alfred app even though it is free, to get some more functions. It’s worth it to me. Most old cameras that can hook to your WiFi will work. You can also remotely switch from the front camera to the back camera , turn on the flashlight, or sound an alarm on the camera. Two way audio is also an option.

  19. Jan says

    Does it have to be android 7.0 and higher?. I guess mine is a really oldie android 4.0.4. I got a newer one working no problem. The alfred app does not even show up in playstore

    • Hi Jan, thanks for your question! It will all depend on the app that you’re wanting to use whether or not it’ll run on your Android version. It could be the app you’re wanting to use needs the newer Android software in order to download and run correctly.

  20. Jorge says

    Does alfred control your cameras remotely? Can they see what are one monitoring?