Your next webcam is already in your pocket

For many workers, video calls are now integral to how you communicate with your team, partners, and clients. Video calls help to build relationships and establish trust by adding a more human element to your conversation. And, in the workplace, we always want to put our best foot forward, which means being presentable and looking great on camera.

But the reality is, it can seem either hard or expensive to create a professional video calling setup! I’ve felt this way for years. That is, until last fall when Apple changed the game.

In this post, I’ll highlight the most important considerations for looking good on camera. I’ll also compare my video calling setup with a traditional webcam vs using my iPhone. And lastly, I’ll give you tips for making the jump to using your iPhone for video calls.

Crafting a professional video calling setup

Let’s start off with the most important factor for looking good on camera: lighting. Proper lighting makes the person in view more visible and represents their face in full detail. In practice, this means increasing the light that shines on your face and removing bright light sources, like windows or lamps, from your background. Controlling your lighting in this way will make any camera perform to its fullest.

Next up is the camera itself. Depending on your setup, this means either using a built-in webcam or adding an external camera. External cameras can range widely in price from as low as $25 USD all the way to $200 USD or more. Generally, as the price increases, the camera performs better. In looking for a camera, you should opt for a model that supports 1080p (or better) and has software to tune the contrast and white balance of the camera.

Moving along to your network connection. This includes both your network speed and your network stability. Generally, for a video call, higher speeds mean better performance. In reality, if your network connection is greater than 10Mbps for both upload and download, you’ll find that you’ll have a good experience. Perhaps of equal or greater importance is the stability of your connection. Whenever possible, plug in an ethernet cable. If that’s not possible, either sit close to your WiFi router or invest in a mesh WiFi system that provides consistent, even coverage throughout your workspace.

Lighting, camera, and network are the three biggest factors that will influence the quality of your camera stream being sent to others in your meeting. There are a number of best practices for looking professional, like keeping your camera at eye level, decluttering your background, and sitting an arm’s length away from your screen, but those factors can’t make up for poor lighting, a low-end camera, or bad WiFi.

A cheat code to leveling up your video calls

Those tips sound great, right? But, what if perfecting your lighting isn’t possible because of your office environment? Or better yet, what if there was an easier way to get professional-quality video?

Enter Continuity Camera

Last fall, Apple announced Continuity Camera, which is a feature that allows your iPhone camera to be streamed to your Mac in real-time. This enables new use cases, like using your iPhone camera as your webcam.

Unless you're a professional photographer, your iPhone is likely the best camera you own. In fact, the iPhone is such a good camera, that it rewrites the rules for how to craft a professional video calling setup. In the section above, lighting was my number one factor to create great video quality. The iPhone performs so well in a variety of lighting situations, that it (almost) makes lighting irrelevant.

Let’s look at an example to see why. In my home office, I’m fortunate enough to have lots of natural lighting. But, that natural lighting is behind me. I refuse to close the blinds and work in the dark, so my video calls with a traditional webcam end up looking like this:

Shadowed webcam still of Mark from the shoulders up, with strong light in the background
Mark looking great in bad lighting

Not terrible, but also not very good. Despite using a ring light to cast light on my face, the webcam can’t compensate for the bright light coming through the windows behind me.

Now, let’s see how the iPhone using Continuity Camera performs given the same lighting:

Well-lit webcam still of Mark from the shoulders up using Continuity Camera, despite strong light in the background
Mark looking even greater in bad lighting with Apple's Continuity Camera

Much better! 🧑‍🍳💋

The only downside to looking this clear on camera is that I need to look more presentable in all of my meetings. 🙈

Using your iPhone in a video call

Apple’s website has a support page that provides everything you need to know. Let’s go through the cliffnotes.

Using Continuity Camera requires:

  • an iPhone XR (released in 2018) or newer running iOS 16 or later
  • a MacBook running macOS 13 or later
  • enabling bluetooth and WiFi on your iPhone and MacBook
  • mounting your iPhone near your MacBook
  • locking your iPhone and pointing the rear cameras at yourself

Join your video call and select your iPhone from the list of devices in the camera menu. Here’s how this looks in Daily Prebuilt’s precall lobby:

Screenshot of Daily's pre-call lobby, with camera selection visible in a dropdown
Selecting the iPhone Camera in Daily camera selection dropdown

After that, join your meeting and get ready for compliments from your colleagues!

Continuity Camera limitations in Chrome

As of July 2023, Continuity Camera works great in every browser… except for Chrome. This is unfortunate since Chrome is the best browser for video calling as it supports the widest array of WebRTC features and provides the most reliable calling experience. I fully expect Chrome to add support for Continuity Camera in the future, but in the meantime, you can use any Chromium browser to get the best of both worlds—reliable video calling and continuity camera support. Popular Chromium browsers include Edge and Brave.

Continuity Camera isn’t limited only to Chromium. It works great on Safari, which supports WebRTC video calls as well.


You should now have all of the information you need to level up your video calling setup.

Have you tried out Apple’s Continuity Camera? Share your experiences or questions over at peerConnection, our WebRTC community.

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