Looking for the best hidden camera detector? This guide will help you find a device that you can use to locate bugs, trackers and covert cameras.
Whether you’re conducting high-level negotiations, being snooped on by the tabloids or worried about peeping toms, hidden spy cameras are a real possibility virtually everywhere these days. They’re small enough to be hidden in fixtures and fittings (like smoke detectors and even light bulbs) and very cheap. Thanks to wi-fi and cellular connections, They’re also able to send sound and pictures far afield if you don’t catch them in the act.
There are two key methods to detect hidden cameras. The first is to look for the glint of the lens, something which might sound somewhat of a manual process, but it can be made easier by sweeping using a lens with directional lights (often marketed as “laser detection”).
The other core approach, especially relevant in the era of live-streaming of video signals, is to look for unexpected radio frequency (RF) signals emitted by the sharing of the data. This is also useful in spotting other live snooping tools, like GPS trackers.
A magnetometer (compass) such as that built into your phone could also play a part; interference from something near should throw it off and highlight a suspect area. Magnetic probes are included on some multifunction bug scanners, and can detect anything from the magnetism in a speaker to that holding a GPS device under a car (adjustable sensitivity is always a useful feature).
Finally the ability to look for Infra-Red (IR) lights can be handy given how many compact security cameras have night vision.
This is a list of devices which combine some or all of these features to help you sweep an unfamiliar space for unwanted devices.
Best hidden camera detector in 2021
The K68 is known by a number of names (this is the Sherry model, easier to find in the USA, while the KMDHKK edition is easily found in the UK).
There is an infra-red detector built in, but the core function is the classing RF sweep; the simulated analog dial indicates the strength of the signal detected and the dial at the top allows you to turn down sensitivity as you hone in on a suspect.
The ‘AI’ feature (right function button) is a pulse based approach which makes it easier to do the scans, but is still relying on the users intelligence! Something appreciated by the hard of hearing – or of course anyone operating in an environment discretion is required – will be the vibrate option (instead of the piercing beep which, on this device, is only an option rather than something to tolerate). It’s also handy that the magnetic probe can be detached if it’s not needed.
The G4 makes a few good design decisions in comparison to its peers which are apparent the second you get it out of the box. The device is rechargeable, via a standard USB socket at the bottom (though Jepwco still supplied a charging cord) and a pinprick LED to indicate charging next to it. The detection is via a kind of ‘bar chart’ of six white LEDs which appear inspired by Apple MacBooks of the mid 2010s. Having only two buttons is very elegant, but in practice it does mean you need to remember to do a long-press for on/off – once on the lower button allows you to switch between wi-fi and full-band sensitivity, and the chosen mode is nicely displayed by the appropriate word glowing. Similarly the top button cycles sensitivity. The end also acts as a torch which may help spot hidden lenses. At 30g and in a nice box, this could make a good gift for someone who struggles to trust their environment.
With two SMA connectors and three antennas, the unit has good coverage for most communication bands – including Bluetooth, LTE and GSM as well as wi-fi – but where it really scores over the cheaper options is by providing a genuine visual representation of the strength of individual frequencies, a bit like the scene in Contact where Jodie Foster first spots the signal . Operating in max, hold and and averaging modes the system is flexible, and firmware updates provided via the USB socket – the same connection allows export to view on-screen spectrums 3D (via the program Waterfall) is useful too, offering more resolution and potentially interest to HAM radio enthusiasts, though for a quick scan of a hotel room this might be too much on the RF and too little when it comes to the more ‘low tech’ features like a light to reflect from lenses, which you’ll need to get separately.
With a distinctly functional design you’re not going to feel silly sweeping surfaces (or under vehicles) with this tool, and the sensor end is a good size for hunting GPS sensors on cars. The rocker switch, which looks like it should be the power switch, is actually a combination of audio alarm on/off and magnetic field sensitivity reduction options, while the analog knob above is both on/off and sensitivity for the RF mode. The green lights provide RF read out, while the red show a magnetic field – the later will show a GPS sensor even when its powered off. To alleviate any concerns about the size of the sensor, the device is supplied with a separate flexible hose type magnetic device detector with while LED torch and battery charger. It’s not as technically elegant, but it gives you an extra option which will fit in smaller gaps, sports a fetching red handle, and provides a handy backup.
With a magnetic and a radio frequency detector in the same device, and supplied with a lens highlighter tool in the package, this is a useful kit which will help you whether you’re checking out meeting rooms, looking for GPS devices under cars or sweeping a hotel room for a hidden camera. With a user-facing sensitivity dial it is easy to hone in on the source of a radio signal, starting to up the sensitivity as you get nearer. When you plug in the magnet sensor you need to remember to switch over to magnet mode then center the chart but the diagrammatic design (and relentless beeper) makes remembering this easy enough. On the up side, there is a light on the end of a flexible probe so looking under cars is easy and it's sensitive enough to spot a hard drive magnet. Some might have found having the hidden camera detector built in easier, but this way two people can work together for a quicker sweep.
The Pro-10G has a broad detection range, able to pick up low and high frequencies which means tracking down any suspect devices, even modern ones designed to operate above the 6GHz where some detectors max out. When you think you’re getting near, the ‘Homing’ switch is used to lower sensitivity. The built-in white noise generation system can flood listening devices with a “ssssshhhhhhhh” sound, so as soon as you’ve identified a device you can disable it rather than have the eavesdropper record your removal and know for sure. The inclusion of a telephone line adaptor (and the necessary sockets on the side of the detector) gives this machine a flexibility not available with competitors. Similarly headphones give an option for operating without a screaming beeper which isn’t to be sniffed at. Perhaps the 9V battery seems a little old-fashioned when so many newer designs are rechargeable, but this machine takes a more active approach to protecting privacy than others.
In a market dominated by low-cost products, a professional can struggle to get something with the full feature range they need. This device will detect all GSM, GSM(DCS), WCDMA or DECT 3G, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi signals and the additional pointer antenna is up to 4 times as sensitive as competing products to these last two categories. That means you can scan for analog (traditional VHF/UHF bugs) and digital ones at the same time with no worries of missing anything. As user, you can also choose to push up the sensitivity for either or both of the detection bands depending on your assignment, and with 16-segments the readout is more detailed than most. There is also the chance of the correlation function producing feedback, where you’ve got an FM transmitter style bug. This device isn’t a cheap option, and may provide more than you need in the radio area while missing out magnetic fields, so you should decide whether it’ll make your operations faster.
As travel ramps up and we find ourselves staying in hotels and AirBnBs – all unfamiliar rooms – most just want to feel that sense of comfort which comes from knowing you’re safe. The Ehomful uses similar tech to other detectors, with flashing red LEDs and a detection range of a few meters, but the device has a bit more chic, with no Inspector Gadget antennas, and a modern USB-C charging socket, so it feels more modern.
Not strictly a camera-finding feature, but attached to the wider sense of safety, Ehomful have also added a diffused nightlight function.
Finally it boasts a motion sensor. The idea is that the device can be rested atop belongings, or even hung by its wrist strap from a door handle, and motion will trigger its buzzer. For those inclined to nap on airport benches there is a value to this but it’s fair to say that there will be a good number of false-positives since there is no way to remotely disable this feature.
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