Generally speaking, most people are on a one- to three-year upgrade cycle when it comes to smartphones. Companies like Apple have even come to embrace this, waiting a year or so in between “massive” hardware updates in order to entice people to invest in the latest and greatest model a bit sooner than they otherwise would. Until recently, most people bought their phones outright — which meant that after a few years, they essentially had a drawer filled with powerful little supercomputers that they weren’t actually using anymore.

Some people would give their old phones to their family members as hand-me-downs, while others were content with just leaving them to collect dust. But when you consider that even “old” and “outdated” iPhones are still viable as a portable data assistant, an MP3 player and a consumer-grade digital camera all rolled into one, it’s easy to imagine a world where you can still get some use out of these devices if you just put your mind to it.

If you’re anything like Manything’s CEO, that “second life” that you’ve always wanted to give to your old mobile phone may actually be a lot more immediate — and useful — than you originally thought. Manything is a company that offers an app that can turn any old iPhone into what is essentially a Wi-Fi security camera, all without even thinking about buying an additional piece of hardware or a CCTV setup to call your very own.

Smartphone hidden camera

The Future of Your Home’s Security System Is Laying in a Drawer, Right Now

Manything’s CEO is James West, a man who both acknowledges that a lot of people have spare smartphones laying around that they don’t know what to do with and who wants to help them get the most life out of their devices that he can.

As a piece of software, Manything is nothing new. It’s been available for years and it does exactly what it says it does. All you need to do is connect your old smartphone to your home Wi-Fi network, download and configure the app and you’ve essentially got a spy camera to call your very own. You can access its feed live over the Internet and can even record with the screen off. Features like motion detection have also always been baked into the service since it originally launched.

Again, Manything is entirely software based. It simply uses the hardware (like the front and rear facing cameras and microphones) that your old phone already has. It’s just letting you put them to good use in ways that Steve Jobs probably never intended.

But the fascinating thing is that according to West, even in 2013 the company realized that they were onto something. Even though five years have passed since then, the smartphones of that era were still of a higher specification than any CCTV camera available to consumers. When you consider that people already had this hardware and most people probably had two or even three phones laying around, suddenly a business model was born.

Manything also lets users share clips with one another that they’ve captured with their cameras. One user from Arizona even managed to capture a meteor that lit up his whole driveway.

Manything is totally free to download and use, but if you want to add more cameras or record more video than your free cloud account will allow, you’ll have to invest in a subscription plan that begins at $3.99. But the best part of all is that Manything works well, even with really old hardware. There are even versions of the app available for devices dating all the way back to the iPhone 3GS and the Android 4.2 operating system.

Now that most users essentially lease their phones and return them at the end of their term, people will have fewer spare devices laying around in the not-too-distant future. But when you’ve already got something that is legitimately better than any CCTV camera you could buy, what more do you really need? If you ask James West and the Manything team, the answer is a resounding “nothing.”