Smartphones have been long around us. We also change them fairly regularly, so that old devices accumulate in cupboards. Over 100 million mobile phones that are no longer needed are lying around unused in the households here. Wouldn’t it be practical to revive them? As a baby monitor, for example?
(Old) smartphone as a baby monitor
In fact, you can turn old smartphones with iOS or Android into a baby monitor. However, a second one is necessary. The old telephone takes over the task of the transmitter, which for example recognizes the sounds of your baby. Your current smartphone, in turn, serves as a receiver that informs you.
So two phones. Good. Besides, you may need an active SIM card for your old smartphone. Because some apps contact the second cell phone via the mobile internet, SMS or phone call. Mostly when there is no WiFi available.
Advantages of the baby monitor apps
We have already indicated: Some apps work over the radio network, which in contrast to conventional baby monitor solutions even has an advantage. If the network works and you are not in the deadlock, you are not limited to distances. This is very useful, for example, when staying in hotels or with friends who don’t have WiFi available.
In addition, the apps are usually much cheaper than the cheapest baby monitor. Thanks to the app family releases, for both iOS and Android, you don’t even have to buy an application twice. Provided that the developers offer this.
The fact that you might make use of such an old smartphone again is certainly an advantage. And usually, the technology for audio transmission is more than sufficient and reliable.
And: The smartphone as a baby monitor is ideal for those who rarely need something like this. For example on a short vacation. You don’t have to buy a device that costs 100 dollars and more.
Disadvantages of apps & smartphones
But there are also several disadvantages that you cannot ignore. You put a smartphone – whether old or new, right next to your baby’s bed. Additional radiation can be expected with 3G / LTE connections, with WiFi one would probably use the existing WiFi in the room.E
Likewise, the cameras on the phones are not designed for night vision. Modern baby cams have infrared light that illuminates the room in the dark. Smartphones are not able to do this.
Ultimately, baby monitors specialize in one function, namely “monitoring” the offspring. A smartphone is an all-rounder, but can never perfectly replace a high-quality baby monitor. There is primarily a lack of appropriate technology (camera, more sensitive microphones).
But we would like to emphasize that the apps presented here do have a reason to exist. Despite the restrictions that we expected, they are suitable for occasional use.
Smartphone as Baby Monitor: The Best Apps
Our personal favorites passed a practice test with a nine months old baby.
1. Baby Monitor 3G
Already the setup is nicely solved: Decide on your two smartphones which device should be the baby station and which should be the parent station. The phones are connected to each other using a generated number code. Incidentally, this works completely regardless of whether you are connected to the internet via WiFi or 3G / LTE.
Baby monitor 3G is our personal favorite, although the app costs a few dollars. But it has a wide range of functions, allows you to take snapshots, transmit videos, adjust the microphone of the baby station and activate a night mode. The display is almost switched off, but the baby station always remains active. And if you want, you can still use the intercom, play lullabies and only be visually informed when the baby wakes up.
Tip: Babyphone 3G is also available as a free, but limited trial version, should you want to try the app in peace.
2. Baby Monitor
The surface may not be the most attractive, but Babyphone does its job. The interesting approach here: Only one person needs the paid app. If the application raises the alarm because noises have been noticed, it automatically calls a previously specified telephone number for the transmission of a live tone. That may be enough for many.
Baby Monitor also offers the option of recording and playing back previously recorded voices (from mom and dad). Optionally, select your own lullabies or activate a rather useless night light. These are mandatory basic elements.
What we find very good: Baby Monitor can also call a featured phone or senior phone. If in doubt, the app simply sends an SMS with the information that the baby is restless.
Name: Baby Monitor
Available for: Android
Advantages: Only one smartphone is required, the other phone can be any (landline, iOS, feature phone ..)
Disadvantages: complicated UX
3. Dormi - Baby Monitor
Dormi is just as multifaceted as Baby Monitor 3G, but the app amazes with creative approaches. The intelligent audio mode automatically detects the noise level in the child’s bedroom – even if the smartphone is more than a meter away from the bed.
What we particularly like about Dormi is the very subtle notification via a vibration or unobtrusive sound. In direct comparison, the battery consumption of the baby part was lower than that of the Baby Monitor 3G. And there’s also an experimental night mode and generally very tidy, modern menus.
But for us there is a big minus: You can “monitor” your baby with Dormi four hours a month, after which you should pay either monthly, annually or for life.
Name: Dormi – Baby Monitor
Available for: Android
Advantages: Extremely extensive, professional and easy to use
Disadvantages: monthly costs or high price, no iOS version
4. BabyPhone Mobile
The BabyPhone Mobile app does not necessarily shine with a modern design, but with other strengths. What was important to the developers was secure end-to-end encryption, which you can reinforce with your own password. Even temperature and humidity sensors are taken into account with existing hardware. But that’s more for geeks.
The regular BabyPhone Mobile can be controlled via WiFi and mobile internet. After trying out the trial version, however, you will need to purchase time-based licenses. And that is quite expensive compared to the competition. If you only need a solution for local WiFi, you can use the minimally stripped-down WiFi Baby Monitor, which costs a one-time fee.
Undoubtedly the greatest specialty of BabyPhone Mobile is that you can also use a laptop or stationary computer with Windows or MacOS as a parent. If you only have a smartphone and a computer at home as a baby monitor system, this app is ideal. And in terms of functionality, it offers nothing less than the others.
Name: BabyPhone Mobile
Available for: Android, Windows XP or higher, MacOS
Advantages: Parent device can be laptop or desktop PC, end-to-end encryption, support of additional sensors
Disadvantages: No iOS version, relatively high subscription costs, antiquated interface
5. MAM Baby Phone
Not perfect, but the free app is sufficient for occasional use. The shared use of an iPhone and an Android smartphone for baby or parent station is not a problem. Video function, intercom, connection via WiFi or cell phone network, a few customization options – everything you need is available.
Occasionally the baby station lost connection to the parent, but otherwise, MAM Baby Phone worked largely reliably. Ultimately, you should not forget that it is an advertising product from the manufacturer’s MAM. If that doesn’t bother you, you really may not need any other app.
Conclusion: Baby Monitor Apps are not a full substitute
To be honest, we are always a little skeptical when there is a smartphone in the bedroom. In the case of the baby monitor apps, it is even switched on continuously and “shines”. It also records audio and video if necessary. Apart from that, our test also surprised us positively: Baby monitors 3G and Dormi, in particular, do a good job.
However, due to smartphone technology, all apps reach their limits. Namely, if you want them to work independently of WiFi or cell phone network and you want a good night vision.
Therefore, our tip is: If you are looking for a permanent solution that should accompany and help you for a few months or maybe several years, choose a “classic” baby monitor. With or without a camera – that’s up to you. The apps are perfect if you spontaneously need a baby sleep monitor. With friends, on vacation, in the hotel and whenever you can’t plan to take a baby monitor with you. Because almost always there are smartphones that can be a really solid baby monitor alternative with the right app in an emergency.