How to Turn an Old Android Phone into a Security Camera

Haven on an Android phone

If you have an old phone lying around, you can easily make good use of it by turning it into a mobile security camera. With the application of Edward Snowden, it's very simple. Here's how.

Your phone already contains the components of a "real" security camera, namely a goal and an Internet connection. You could have do that with an android phone for years, but there is a new, more secure method.

We will use an app called Haven, which was built by Edward Snowden, an NSA launcher. You can use the app on almost any Android phone or tablet, from your old spare drive sitting in your drawer to a cheap $ 50 WalMart phone. As long as your device has a camera and microphone in working order, you can use it as a security camera. You can install the beta Haven from Google Play Store or compile it yourself from his Github repository.

Haven will work whether your phone is connected to Wi-Fi or a USB-Ethernet adapter. If you choose wired Internet, make sure to get an adapter that also carries power. The Haven app only works on Android devices, but you can configure it to alert your iPhone.

Configure Haven on your old phone

Before configuring the Haven application, make sure your ideal location has enough space to mount your phone, be powered and be able to use an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi. Once this is set, open the Haven application. Scroll through the first two screens and select "Configure".

Haven Configuration Screen

Tap "Allow" in the prompts to access photos, media files, and files, as well as take photos and record videos.

Haven permission prompt on Android

Tap "Allow" at the next prompt to take photos and record a video.

Haven image and save the video prompt on Android

The next screen will be your live camera stream. Tap the icon at the bottom left to switch between the front and back cameras, then use the slider at the bottom of the screen to set the sensitivity level of the motion detection. You can always go back and increase or decrease the motion sensitivity to better match your environment. Tap the "Back" button at the top left to see more options.

Haven app camera feed

Then accept the prompt to save the audio so you can hear the environment around the camera. Again, use the slider at the bottom of the screen to adjust the detection sensitivity. Press the "Back" button again in the upper left corner.

Haven configuration of audio recording

Then shake the phone or use the slider at the bottom to set the motion detection. This will allow your camera to start recording if the phone moves physically, as if an intruder were starting to hit the side of your house. Press the "Back" button in the upper left corner once more.

Haven Motion Detection Configuration

Drag the rest of the introductory screens. Grant permission to send and view text messages if you want SMS alerts to be sent to your primary phone, then enter your phone number. If you only use an internet connection, you must install an active SIM card to be able to send SMS or configure Signal for alerts in the application settings (for more information about this in a few moments),

Haven SMS prompt for permission

Slide your finger on another screen and tap "Finish".

Haven configuration completed on Android

Once done, press "Start Now" to start monitoring your environment. Tap Gear Settings at the bottom right to adjust the camera, sound and motion sensitivity, change your SMS or Signal messaging settings, and more.

Settings page of the Android Haven application

Configure the Haven video surveillance

Motion and audio detection is great, but Haven also lets you record a video for a period of time. Tap the Settings gear in the lower right corner of the main screen, then turn on the "Video Surveillance" toggle.

Video monitoring enabled on the Haven Settings page

Tap "Set video surveillance length" to choose how long Haven will save the environment.

CCTV Length Selection in Haven

With this you have a reliable and cheap security camera! Your events, along with photos and sound, will automatically be sent via SMS or Signal, and you can always go back and see the events on your old phone. Keep in mind that you need to manually enable monitoring before you leave and that it remains active until you manually turn it off. Even with these minor limitations, it's a great way to reuse an old phone!


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