Old Nokia as IP camera? Apparently NOT!

I recently got a new phone. The old Nokia 5800 had done well during it’s time, and it sort of seemed a shame to just throw such a capable device in the trash. It has two cameras, and it can connect to other devices via WiFi, Bluetooth and USB. The obvious idea was to use it as an IP camera.

An afternoon of wasted time later, I concluded that this is not worth it. Here’s the story so you don’t have to waste your time too.

EDIT 2013-11-12: A user commented that he had found a proper IPcam app, and it really worked. Read about it in the TrendCam article.

The Nokia 5800 runs Symbian, and even though the hype was great back in 2009 when the phone was brand new, it died quickly. Only one year later the OS was considered dead by many developers.

This became way too clear during my search for apps that could do the IP camera thing.

I searched google a lot and found 3 interesting apps: Mobiola Webcam, SmartCam and Phido Anyplace IP camera.

Mobiola Webcam
Mobiola seemed like the most complete package. The webpage was nice and updated and Mobiola exists for several devices and OS’s such as IPhone, Blackberry, WindowsPhone and Symbian S60.

There’s a free version and a paid version, but the Mobiola page does not tell anything about the difference between the two. I decided to try it out anyway. It turns out that the free version is really a 7 day trial… i.e. completely useless if you don’t want to pay for it.

Mobiola got it right though. They call it WebCamera, because that’s what it is. You install some software on the pc, and then connect the phone. This can be done via Wifi and works pretty well. On the phone you can then select which camera you want to use, and you can also use the phone screen as a source.

But.. in the end you’re left with a portable webcam. You can’t use it as a standalone IP camera which was what I wanted.

I found SmartCam on Sourceforge. This is always a good sign, because the software from Sourceforge is free. The downside is that many Sourceforge projects die as soon as the developers have other things on their minds. This seemed to have happened to SmartCam as well.

The sis package for the phone would not install. The certificate for the app had run out. This was quickly fixed by simply setting the time on the phone back to 2011 where SmartCam had its last update.

SmartCam looked A LOT like Mobiola, but not as complete.For example you could not select which camera to use and it did take a little more setup before it worked. Again, it was only a wireless Webcam.

Update: As the creator of SmartCam writes below in the comments, it is possible to change which camera to use. You just have to do it when it’s not connected.

Phido Anyplace IP Camera
I then found Phido Anyplace IP Camera, which due to its name sounds like just the perfect thing. This app was a complete joke. It’s simply an app that can take a maximum of ONE picture every 5 seconds to the Phido webpage where you can see them if you bother to create an account. I didn’t. Calling this an IP camera is complete bullshit.

So… to conclude. If you happen to need a webcam you can do it, and even get a wireless one at the same time. But it seems that no one ever bothered to write a proper IP camera app.   🙁

A picture of a Nokia 5800 phone

But…If you happen to find one, please comment below and let me know 😉

9 thoughts on “Old Nokia as IP camera? Apparently NOT!

  1. Hi,

    I am the author of SmartCam; you can select which camera to use with SmartCam, just go into the settings of the mobile app; the downside is that you you can do this only when the app is disconnected from the PC server;

    Anyway, what features would you like for the IP camera app? I was thinking of making a new app that would allow the user to set a timer (e.g. every 10 or 30 minutes) to allow this IP cam app to upload the photo to dropbox and or/email it; also do this when detecting motion. Do you consider these features enough for an IP cam app?

    Thanks & regards,

    • Hi Iounut, is it possible to send (upload) picture by ftp or http post to fixed url? Timer can be set to wide range from 1 sec to 1 hour. This will fullfill my expectations from IP cam application for symbian.

  2. Hi lonut,
    thanks for stopping by.
    The features I was looking for was sort of more like a typical wifi-ip-camera.

    This means that:
    The software should be on the phone only. Not on the pc.
    The software should simply wait until it receives a request via network to deliver a picture/video. Ideally it should work with the Synology Surveillance station 🙂

    I don’t really know if there’s a specific protocol for these kinds of devices, but I almost think there must be at least some standards, since a lot of surveillance software can access almost any ip-camera on the market.

    Another option is to run a little webserver on the phone, simply displaying the picture/video, whenever there’s a request for a page.

    Other problems are certainly present by doing this on a phone. For example I don’t know if it’s even possible to set the phone to a fixed ip-address, which would be useful.

  3. I haven’t found a proper IP camera app for Symbian either (got a few miscellaneous S60v3x sitting around). One thing I have found, though, is SensyScan, which turns any S60v3x into a motion detector/camera that can send alerts via sms or mms (but max 640×480 on images captured).

  4. Hi Timo,
    I’m considering of getting a new phone, in anticipation I looked into the possibility of putting my old E52 into a ip-camera use. Thus, I found out Phido Wireless. It’s not free, which is a drawback. Luckily available in ovi-kauppa and quite cheap. Seems to work. Resolution looks like to be limited to 320×240 which is pretty bad taking into account that the camera is 2Mpix…

    Hyvää syksyä!

  5. I’ve been at this for some time now. Apart from apps mentioned here, I found two more: Bambuser and Movino. Bambuser is a well-known app available for a wide range of mobile phone OSs. Movino is somewhat older open-source Drupal module (can be standalone with some drawbacks) which, unfortunately, works only on MacOSX b/c it relies on QuickTime.

    I’m sure you’ve noticed that all of these solutions require a server component that does encoding and streaming (either web or local pc-based) which is nearly impossible natively on Symbian OS (maybe it is on some newer Anna and Belle models, I don’t know). Realtime encoding and streaming requires a) a lot of processing power (eg. Adobe Flash is a monster) and b) adequate software. Symbian phones really lack in both.

    The only viable solution I can think of is to rework certain parts of SmartCam (as it is open-source) to make a (console?) application tied directly to a web server. That variant should, upon startup, open the cam’s viewfinder and render frames directly to JPEG creating an MJPEG stream. Actually, the program does that already, but instead to send it to a computer client, it should be served thru PAMP or MWS (both full Apache 2.2 web servers running on Symbian v3+ phones) and be embedded in an HTML page via CGI script which should show the stream to a remote client’s browser. With VGA res JPEGs it should be no problem.

    I would really LOVE to do the above myself, but my programming skills in c++ are non-existent. I get the concept of it but lack the actual howto write the code. Maybe some day.

  6. As creators and owners of Phido Anyplace IP Camera, we would like to explain why we believe Phido Anyplace is a useful ip-camera app.
    Phido Anyplace can be accessed from anywhere in the world through any web browser
    by simply logging into https://www.panyplace.com. After you login you can view each frame live
    as soon as it is uploaded from your device to our secure servers. Additionally, if you wish to view
    older archives, there is an archive video player in the Archives section of the Phido Anyplace website.

    Our users find this application useful because, like an IP camera, they are able to perform remote monitoring
    with relatively few resources. A strong and fast internet connection is not required and this makes 5-second image
    uploads practical. Users have reported especially finding this application useful for long-term monitoring when
    they are traveling or are not around their monitoring location enabling them to watch vital locations.

    Additionally, we have great news! We would like to announce that we have introduced new innovations to our Phido Anyplace service
    which further enables our users to enjoy benefits of transforming their device into an IP camera:

    1. New plans (Free, Silver, Gold) with more options.
    2. Higher upload rates(1-second)
    3. Different image qualities
    4. Motion alerts

    We believe that our Phido system provides useful capabilities to people in need of an effective, inexpensive monitoring
    solution and hope to continue innovating and enhancing our products.

    Finally, we would like to thank you for trying our product and hope you give Phido Anyplace another try.

  7. Hi,
    I also tried out Phido with my old Nokia E65. Works nice if you have a stable wifi connection, and you can see the pictures directly over your local network without any external server component.
    My problem is that it will crash if the wifi connection becomes unstable. That means, it cannot reconnect and will exit, so the wifi connection will we closed by the phone.
    So I cannot use it for long-time purposes with a low and unstable wifi signal. In a locaton right near our wifi router, it works well but uses lots of power because it will have the camera activated even if there are no http requests.

    If all this worked, it would be perfect because there is no cheaper IP cam like an old Nokia 🙂

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