CHOICE membership

Use for old phones

Having been through the Choice survey of security cameras a number of times, I was still fairly disillusioned, and couldn’t see any product that I considered was worth purchasing on my limited budget. The best images quality was “80%” although exactly what that means as far as resolution goes is a mystery to me.
With most security camera footage, along with dash cam and my own rear-facing Fly6 bike camera, image quality is a big failure for all of them. I think it is a compound problem- lens quality is only mediocre, then video compression is applied, often leaving a rather blurry result. Far from satisfactory IMO, when reading a number plate is often impossible.

I have my old phone sitting around, and it has a perfectly good camera (although the USB charging connection is getting a bit dodgy), and delivers image quality better than any reasonably priced security type camera, so I figured it should be able to be used. I had installed a bit more capable camera app than the original Android/Google offering, which had motion detection, but getting those images to somewhere I could view them was an issue.
So I searched online to see what I could find, and sure enough there are apps that allow phones to be used as security cameras!
Yesterday I installed Alfred Camera, which at 4.8* was the highest rated. It was free, but I paid to remove ads and also to obtain clearer HD images. Videos are stored for 30 days, up to 2 minutes in length.
It has various adjustments for motion detection sensitivity, checking battery level, on/off scheduling and the ability to share with others via their GMail accounts.

I’ve only had it running a day or so, but am quite happy with it so far.

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I suspect that you are not the only one. When Australian upgrade their phones to keep up with the Jones or to get something that little bit flashier, most old ones end up in the bottom draw or in the back of the cupboard. Most are reluctant to depart with their old phones as ‘it was expensive when I first got it’ and ‘it still works so will keep it along with the other 3, 4, 5 etc as a spare just in case I need it’ and ‘it may have something on it I need in the future’…

It is a great use for those old mobiles that one can’t seem to depart with…and reduces waste to some extent.

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I wonder how many of them are only 2G but ‘still work’ and could be useful in an emergency of some sort? :thinking:

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For the use I’ve put mine (3G) to, the number of the G doesn’t matter, it’s connected to the house wifi.

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I would be somewhat concerned at the idea of keeping an old, no longer updated device on my network. Your WiFi network is only as secure as its weakest link, and if that is an old phone that has known exploits then you may want to consider putting the phone on a physically separate network (along with any IoT devices you are using).

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A couple of years ago I tried a number of similar free apps on an old iPhone 4s.

Positioning the phone was rather cumbersome due to the power plug being on the bottom (stuffed battery) where it would naturally sit in an upright position. Due to the need for power, it got rather hot. Unlike you, I didn’t change the native camera app. Perhaps that is why the image was not good.

In the end, I decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

Edit: on further reflection, the poor quality image could also be because of the lower quality of the iPhone 4s’ camera.

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