*** This post was updated on: November 2, 2020 ***
Welcome to my comparison of the best cell phone spy apps of 2020.
If you’ve spent any time researching hidden spy apps you know how confusing all the choices are. Which features do you need? Will you have to jailbreak or root the phone? Will you need physical access to the phone? Will you be able to get a refund if it doesn’t work? This guide will answer all these questions and more. You’ll know exactly which of these top rated iPhone and Android spy apps is the best solution for you.
My first experience with a spying app cost me over $100, several hours of my time, and it NEVER worked.
More on that in a minute…
Since then I’ve spent over 100 hours testing different apps. I’ve found 7 that offer great value, advanced features, and reasonable refund policies.
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I don’t care why you need to spy on someone’s phone. I’ve been there and I get it.
A day of not knowing what someone is doing behind your back on their phone can feel like an eternity.
But the fact is, some of the companies in this business are scammy as hell. This guide will help you avoid the mistakes I made when you buy a spy app.
The first app I bought cost me $100 and the product never worked.
Trust me, stressing what someone is doing behind your back is bad enough. Don’t make it worse by messing around with some stupid app that will NEVER work.
Here is my list of 7 best mobile spy software products on the market…
Below are my detailed reviews of the 7 best spy apps currently on the market for both iPhones (phones & tablets) and Android. Once installed these tools are completely undetectable.
SPYIC is the best Android spying app on the market. It has all the basic features. It lets you see text messages , GPS location, web browser history, phone call logs, and contact lists. It also has some advanced features you won’t find with any other app. SPYIC gives you access to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and more. All WITHOUT rooting the phone. It also includes a powerful keylogger that records everything typed on the device.
On top of that, it’s much less expensive than apps that offer similar features. mSpy (my #2 pick) requires a “family plan” to unlock the most powerful features.
All the best spy apps for Android require you to have physical access to the phone you want to track.
SPYIC is no exception. But with SPYIC you don’t have to root the phone to get access to advanced spying capabilities.
Most Android surveillance apps use a keylogger to capture social media chat messages, but this only lets you see half the conversation. SpyIC’s Android spyware offers a keylogging feature, but it also allows you to monitor all of these apps natively, so you can see both sides of the conversation. In fact, no other spy app that I’ve tested gives you access to Snapchat without rooting the phone.
Why is this important?
Not having to root the device means:
Trust me, the last thing you want to is to have to troubleshoot one of these apps.
In terms of stability it’s the best of the group. During testing I experienced no crashes and no lag in data. Some apps will stop working after the target phone is rebooted or after a software update. SPYIC had no such issues.
Most importantly, Spyic offers strong customer support and a transparent, hassle-free refund policy.
While Spyic isn’t my top pick for iPhones, they do offer an iOS compatible version..
It offers quite a few monitoring options but not as many as mSpy or uMbobix.
Like all the other apps (except FlexiSPY) the iPhone version of Spyic uses the iCloud email and password to monitor the phone rather than installing software.
One of my biggest frustrations with spyware is that the apps are often unstable. But SpyIC was stable through reboots and software updates.
Trust me, the last thing you need when trying to discretely monitor someone’s phone is to have to re-install software or troubleshoot.
Overall Spyic is my favorite solution. This powerful cell phone monitoring software allows you to see just about everything that happens on the target device.
If you need to monitor an Android device, I wouldn’t look anywhere else. It’s priced competitively, stable, and has a no-nonsense refund policy.
mSpy has been in the spy app business for a long time. And while they face some stiff competition from SpyiC and uMobix they continue to innovate to stay ahead.
With the introduction of their screenlogger feature (requires the Family package), mSpy is once again solidly in the top position for Androids.
Most spy apps require you to root or jailbreak the phone to see chats from Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. But the newest version of mSpy has this built in.
uMobix and SpyIC come close, but both require the installation of a keylogger that only lets you see what is typed on the target phone. You won’t be able to see the messages they receive in these chat apps.
If you need to monitor an iPhone, mSpy is still a solid solution. In addition to all the standard features, you will be able to see Whatsapp, text and iMessages.
The only downside is you won’t be able to see Facebook messages with their iPhone product.
uMobix (my #3 pick) WILL let you see Facebook messages with their iPhone monitoring solution, so if that’s important to you check out my uMobix review below.
mSpy’s other features like GPS tracking, phone logs, contacts, media files, are the exactly the same as SpyIC and uMobix.
On top of all this they offer the most responsive tech support in the industry. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you’re not tech savvy a responsive and helpful tech support team can be a lifesaver.
If you’re looking for more detailed information, including a look at the user interface, you can read more in my mSpy review.
Their basic monitoring solutions do not require jailbreaking and is great for those who struggle with technology.
It offers the ability to monitor Whatsapp, but no other social media accounts. The full version of mSpy gives you significantly more features including the location of the phone phone. It is also undetectable once installed.
mSpy is my #2 phone spying app for Android devices.
It’s still a great product if you need to monitor an iPhone. The only reason I would recommend SpyIC or uMobix is if you need to monitor Facebook messenger. Otherwise you’ll be able to see all texts, iMessages, and Whatsapp messages on an iPhone.
It doesn’t offer some of the advanced tools (like call intercept or call recording) of FlexiSPY, but this cell phone spyware still offers good value overall. And FlexiSPY (my #4 pick) requires rooting for these advanced features.
uMobix is relatively new to the market but has quickly become one of the most reliable products out there and is one of the best iPhone spy app (or any iOS device).
With a focus on innovative features backed by strong customer support and the most transparent, hassle-free refund policy in the industry, this spy phone app manages to beat out everyone when it comes to spying on an iPhone.
It has all the monitoring features of the other spy apps listed below, plus a few incredibly powerful features not offered by any other cell phone spy software out there.
While most iPhone spyware requires you to jailbreak the device to see things like Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp chats, uMobix’s smartphone surveillance software doesn’t require you to install ANYTHING on the phone.
You WILL need to know the login credentials of the users iCloud account.
While mSpy (see my #1 pick above) is my top pick for Android spy apps, uMobix does offer a powerful keylogger feature.
This keylogger works on Androids with no need to root the device. This allows you to track EVERYTHING typed on the phone, no matter what app they’re using.
This keylogging feature captures every keystroke entered into the phone. You can see all of this in your web based control panel.
On top of that, the app itself is VERY stable, and their support is responsive and efficient. Check out my full uMobix Review here.
Because it was programmed from the ground up with a focus on stability, uMobix was the most reliable app I tested. On top of that their keylogger allows you to see EVERYTHING that is typed in ANY app.
Trust me, the last thing you need when trying to discretely monitor someone’s phone is to have to re-install software or troubleshoot.
If you’re looking for a product that is stable and reliable, uMobix is a great solution. This powerful cell phone monitoring software will allow you to keep an eye on just about everything that happens on the target phone remotely.
The annual “Full” package is the best value. And their refund policy is the easiest and most transparent in the industry.
uMobix will work on a wide variety of devices including Android devices and iOS phones and tablets. To date it is the most reliable app I’ve tested.
FlexiSPY is hands down the most powerful monitoring software on the market. This is why it’s one of my favorite Android spy apps.
It has all the real time monitoring features of the other products I’ve listed, plus a few incredibly powerful advanced features not offered by any other mobile phone monitoring app out there.
This powerful app actually allows you to record calls as well as listen live to phone calls in real time. No other app offers this functionality.
You can also spoof sms messages, or send them on behalf of the phone’s owner.
On top of that, the app itself is VERY stable, and their support is responsive and efficient. FlexiSPY can also be used to for computer monitoring.
Where this product REALLY shines is when you order a device with FlexiSPY preinstalled on the target Android phone. This gives you full access from DAY 1!
FlexiSPY has set the bar for other spying applications by offering the most advanced features. Most notably it allows you to record calls, listen live to calls, Facetime calls, and listen to the ambient surroundings anytime.
If you’re comfortable with technology and are willing to spend a bit more, FlexiSPY is the most powerful spy apps on the market. This powerful cell phone monitoring solution will allow you to keep an eye on just about everything that happens on the target user phone remotely.
While it has high price tag, the FlexiSPY Extreme package has unmatched spy capabilities, allowing you to record calls and listen to live calls.
Flexispy will work on a wide variety of devices including Android and iOS devices and tablets, Nokia Symbian, and the Blackberry. It is undoubtedly one of the most powerful of all the tools I’ve tested, and their support team can handle installation of the app.
Where FlexiSPY really shines is in its advanced set of features. In fact, they sound like some of the CIA or NSA hacks that you hear about in the news. You can read more about it in my full FlexiSPY review.
iKeyMonitor is an easy and user-friendly spy app that has many of the cell phone spying features of other apps we’ve covered. It also includes an online dashboard for reviewing data on target devices.
You will be required to root the phone to get the full services iKeyMonitor. So if you’re uncomfortable with that process, you might be better off looking at our top review. The keylogger functionality is quite powerful but requires either rooting or jailbreaking the target device.
iKeyMonitor is among the best apps for spying on an iPhone. However, it does require you to root or jailbreak (iOS) the device for maximum access. Bottom line, it offers many of the same great features as the others, but at a more reasonable price.
Overall, the iKeyMonitor package is pretty solid. Setting up the app, in particular, was a bit more technically involved than other spy apps we tested, but it seemed very stable once it was installed and setup. All the spying functionality works as advertised, and the app is hidden from the end user, making it completely undetectable.
From a value perspective, you’ll be paying an additional $6 per month compared to our first choice, and getting basically the same functionality. For this reason, it came in number 5 in our comparison.
One thing worth mentioning, though, is that the feature to log what they type truly does record everything that happens on the phone. So, if you’re willing to search through the logs, you won’t miss anything that’s typed on the device. For more information on this mobile spying app, go to https://ikeymonitor.com/
Spyera is another great solution for iOS or Android phones.
It is geared toward remotely monitoring the devices of your children or your employees. Of course, how you use it is totally up to you.
Spyera has many of the same features as other monitoring apps. Because Spyera is easy to use, install and configure, it is a good choice for those who aren’t as technically savvy.
The interface and online dashboard capabilities are very similar to the other cell phone monitoring software we’re covering, but this app doesn’t have some of their advanced capabilities. You can read more about this iPhone and Android monitoring app in our Spyera review article.
Spyera is one of the better budget cell phone spying tools on the market. This monitoring software has some great features though it lacks some of the more advanced capabilities.
In addition, Spyera also offers a ONE-TIME annual payment. Yes, it is missing some features like recording calls, ambient recording, and turning on the camera, but it is still a robust package to spy on someone’s online activities, and it is worth considering.
XNSPY is another of the more innovative spy apps on the market. Like most of the options we’ve covered so far.
In addition, it shows you call logs, allows social media account monitoring of apps (Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp), photos and videos, GPS location tracking features, and has some impressive extras.
You can read XNSPY reviews here. While it was originally just for Android, they now have an iOS version.
This Android software is specifically designed for parents and employers to track everything happening on the target device. The dashboard will let you monitor multiple devices and allow you to switch from one to the other quickly.
The Live Control Panel is a nice add-on, but where it really excels is when you need to monitor multiple devices.
XNSPY’s free customer support isn’t all that great. But you can find answers to just about any question on their website. And if that’s not good enough, you can contact their team.
All in all, XNSPY is a solid choice with the usual features. You can find more data and a demo of the software on their website.
I want to make sure your buying decision is as easy as possible. So in this section, I’m highlighting the MUST HAVE features in any cell phone spy app.
I’m also covering:
To make my list of the best mobile spy apps for Android and iPhones each product needed to offer monitoring of Facebook, text messages, location tracking, phone call logs, and social media messages.
The most powerful cell phone spy apps will even allow you to record calls or listen to the ambient surroundings of the phone.
And of course a good spy app MUST be undetectable once installed on the target device.
The top app for Android isn’t necessarily best iPhone spyware. Many packages are compatible with either one, but there are differences in the operating systems that limit capabilities and functionality.
One of the most common difficulties that come up when trying to use spyware is that some software requires you to jailbreak or root the phone. While uMobix, mSpy, and Spyic allow you to spy on a cell phone without installing software, this is only available for iOS devices.
And if you want the more advanced capabilities such as spying on Facebook or other social networks, all but uMobix will require you to jailbreak even an iPhone.
Android cell phones are even more difficult. Since user data isn’t stored in the cloud you will need to install an app directly onto the phone. This, of course, requires you to have physical access to the phone.
The iPhone spy software we reviewed allows you to get MOST of the information without even installing any software. These spy apps require that you know the iCloud account login credentials of the target device. From there, it is free to remotely access all the backups, which are regularly stored by the phone.
These offer the greatest flexibility and are also great for those that aren’t comfortable dealing with complex technology.
Regardless of what you’re trying to track, most features offered among cell phone monitoring apps are essentially the same.
So what data CAN you track using these spyware apps?
Whether you’re planning on monitoring a child, employee, loved ones, or anyone else, there are a few key features you should look for before deciding on a spying app. Here’s my list of the most important features.
One of the more important pieces of information for a concerned parent, employer, or spouse is the user’s location. Each cell phone spying app we’ve covered allows location tracking of the target device. Some apps now take this capability even further by logging the location history over a specific time frame. Make sure you understand this feature as it is very powerful.
Good cell phone location tracker apps allow you to set up zones as well. When the user enters or leaves this location, you’ll be notified.
Pretty much everyone sends text messages about their personal life, business, or things they are hiding from someone else. And knowing how to monitor text messages to spy on what’s being said is a must for any tracking app. You can even read a text message without installing anything.
One of the more common features of a spy phone app is the ability to see the users contact list. Even a budget option will include this functionality.
The ability to see a phone’s web history gives you insight into what someone is doing on their phone. Any good spying app will offer features like this. The internet browsing history function is a great feature for employee monitoring.
Spy apps that use a keylogger will even let you see search engine queries. Google Family link is another good alternative if you’re looking for something that will work on a child’s phone.
Even if you are using a Facebook Messenger hack, it’s hard to keep track of all the ways people use to communicate, especially with chatting apps. Your spouse or child could be using apps like Whatsapp, SnapChat, Tinder, LINE,Viber, Skype, or others.
Spying on conversations on social media platforms and instant messaging apps such as Whatsapp or Tinder is a bit more involved than seeing SMS text messages or a log of calls, but we have covered several iPhone and Android apps that now offer this capability and even more.
Although e-mail communication isn’t as popular among kids and teens, this is still one of the key features. Email communication is something that should be monitored closely. Any iPhone or Android mobile spy app you’re considering should offer the capability to monitor incoming and outgoing emails.
The ability to see a log of incoming and outgoing phone calls lets you monitor EXACTLY who they call and who calls them. Some of the better apps will even let you record all calls on the phone.
All of the top spy apps should be able to record phone calls. Flexispy can record real time live phone calls, and also makes it easy to turn on the phone’s microphone for in-room recording without the user’s knowledge.
GPS tracking software allows you to see where the phone is currently. Want to learn how to track a phone without them knowing?
Many of these apps will allow you to track a phones location without installing any software. They’ll also show you a GPS tracking history to show you it’s location for the last 24 hours or so.
As parents, the ability to activate the camera of the device and record or take a photo, without the user knowing, are powerful features.
A keystroke capture feature allows you to spy on anything that is typed on the phone. This includes chats, texts, emails, usernames, and passwords. Some trackers will even notify you when specific keywords are typed.
Some programs are designed specifically for an Android phone, while others are platform independent and will work on all types of devices. If you’re planning to spy on more than one device, you’ll want to ensure that the app you choose is compatible with all of them.
Something to consider is that Android security isn’t as stringent as iOS. Androids can be monitored a lot more easily, regardless of the OS version.
While very similar to parental control apps, many of these apps allow you to spy on Android or iOS devices. However don’t necessarily offer the same features. For more information you can read our parental control app reviews.
Here are the answers to common questions people have about installing and using phone spyware.
Spy apps do work and can give parents, business owners, or whoever complete access to most phone’s information including web browsing history and much more.
mSpy, uMobix, and SpyIC can all be installed without touching the target device if it’s an iPhone. Android devices require spy apps be installed on the phone.
It offers fewer monitoring features than the standard version, as it utilizes iCloud account storage to harvest data. But data like location tracking, apps installed on the device, Whatsapp messages, and the users contacts can be monitored
Absolutely. All the tracking apps we’ve reviewed allow you to track the physical location of a target smartphone.
Hacking a phone with a phone tracker is actually quite straightforward. In this article we discuss how to hack a cell phone using software that is installed on the device.
uMobix, mSpy, and FlexiSPY all allow you to track mobile phones, even if it is not connected to the internet by utilizing the GPS location tracking data.
After the completion of the app download and installing it you can monitor someone’s smartphone activity remotely. You’ll need to find out if the phone itself is compatible with the spyware. Most spy apps require that you download the app to the device itself.
There are also methods of hacking that are less sophisticated. You can use codes to tap a phone to have it forward calls and messages to another number.
The best hidden spy apps are extremely powerful, and it’s important to understand the legalities of using them. We go into more detail in this article.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll be leaving all reservations based on morality at the door. Yes, it might be shady (and in some cases illegal) to track a phone or devices you do not own. But if you ARE the owner of the phone, you can install whatever software you like on the device.
Jason is a work from home dad who has a passion for DIY projects, yard work, and SEC Football. His background is IT, but he's always fancied himself as a part-time ship welder, landscaper, and short order cook. During the week he can be found on his laptop 10 hours-a-day, but on the weekends he escapes to the local DIY Cave to play with REAL toys. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, and can contact him via email.