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Best hidden camera detector in 2021: hunt out bugs, trackers and spy cams

Best hidden camera detector
(Image credit: Lonove)

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, cheap enough for nearly everyone to get them and, thanks to wi-fi and phones, able to sound and send pictures far afield if you don’t catch them in the act.

Thankfully there are several different ways to find them, so with the right hidden camera detector you have no reason to worry about the security of the car, dressing room or anywhere else ever again. The main methods are: 

Operating a detector has a feel of appearing in a spy movie; directional antenna and flexible cables are used and the process typically involves a certain amount of trial and error as you tweak the sensitivity. It’s also true that, in this day and age, there are a lot of devices which use RF (phones, anything with wi-fi), but you should still  be suspicious of a smoke detector with a pin-point lens or a clock-radio which seems to be broadcasting a signal. 

Best hidden camera detector in 2021

(Image credit: Lonove)

1. Lonove K19

A complete bug-sweeping device in a single unit

RF: Yes | Magnetic: Yes | Hidden Lens: Yes | Infra Red: Yes | Frequency Range: 1MHz - 8GHz (GSM, Wi-Fi, BT, UHF) | Power: 20h working/7 day standby rechargeable | Signal Strength Display: 10-bar LED | Dimensions: 124 x 56 x 20mm | Weight: 160g

4-in-1 Device
Simple Mode Switches
Sound or Vibration option
Not available outside USA

The Lenove K19 is a combination of all the key functions you’ll need, including an infrared detector which wasn’t part of the previous Lonove K18 model (the later does have the advantage of being easier to get hold of though). It’s worth mentioning that, despite the manufacturer’s enthusiasm for this new feature, it will only find cameras which have infrared lights and have them turned on while you sweep, so it’s a good thing the “laser” is still an option. While you will need to spend a few moments familiarizing yourself with all these features, it’s nice to have a row of mode switches to use. Something very much 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).

(Image credit: Jepwco )

2. Jepwco G4 Pro

Pen-sized bug-sweeper which is as easy to use as it is discrete

RF: Yes | Magnetic: No | Hidden Lens: Yes | Infra Red: No | Frequency Range: 1MHz - 6.5GHz (GSM, Wi-Fi, BT, UHF) | Power: 5h working (300mAh) rechargeable | Signal Strength Display: 5-bar LED (6th light is on/off) | Dimensions: 140 x 20 x 20mm | Weight: 30g

Discrete and compact
Easy to select wi-fi only
Well presented
RF & Laser Only

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. 

(Image credit: Kaxyuya )

3. Kaxyuya magnetic field & electromagnetic wave detector

Best detector for finding under-car GPS Devices

RF: Yes | Magnetic: Yes | Hidden Lens: No | Infra Red: No | Frequency Range: 1.2GHz - 5.8GHz (GSM, Wi-Fi, BT, UHF) | Power: 4-5h working USB cable supplied | Signal Strength Display: 6-bar LED | Dimensions: 127 x 75 x 25mm | Weight: 397g

Simultaneous Magnetic & RF
Silent option
Built in sensors
Confusing switches

With a distinctly functional design you’re not going to feel silly sweeping surfaces (or under vehicles) with this design, 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.

(Image credit: Biznlink)

4. JMDHKK M8000

A bug sweeping kit

RF: Yes | Magnetic: Yes | Hidden Lens: Yes (separate, in pack) | Infra Red: No | Frequency Range: 1MHz - 6.5GHz (GSM, Wi-Fi, BT, UHF) | Power: 8-10h working USB cable supplied | Signal Strength Display: 10-bar LED | Dimensions: 125 x 52 x 22mm | Weight: 175g

RF & Magnetic 
LED Lens Detector
Sensor adjustment dial
Non-standard USB charger

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. 

(Image credit: SpyHawk)

5. SpyHawk Pro-10G

Best bug detector for wire-taps and detection

RF: Yes | Magnetic: No | Hidden Lens: No | Infra Red: No | Frequency Range (main antenna): 10MHz - 10GHz (Fixed-line, GSM, Wi-Fi, BT, UHF) | Power: 9v battery (supplied) | Signal Strength Display: 10-bar LED | Dimensions: 127 x 75 x 25mm | Weight: 397g

Built-in white noise generator
Includes phone-line adapter
Headphone socket
Would benefit from an analog sensitivity dial

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.

(Image credit: DefCon)

6. DefCon DD1206

Best bug scanner for detecting industrial espionage

RF: Yes | Magnetic: No | Hidden Lens: No | Infra Red: No | Frequency Range (main antenna): 50MHz - 12GHz (GSM, Wi-Fi, BT, UHF) | Power: 2xAAA batteries | Signal Strength Display: 16-bar LED | Dimensions: 121 x 70 x 19mm | Weight: 450g

Dual antennas makes signal type clear
Correlation detection feature
Sound, vibration or mixed alert modes

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.

More security and surveillance guides:
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The best trail cameras for wildlife photography and nature watching
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Adam Juniper

Adam is Digital Camera World's resident drone expert. He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video, and The Drone Pilot's Handbook.