*** This post was updated on: June 2, 2021 ***
Researching cell phone spying apps can be very confusing. As of 2021 there are more than 60 different smartphone surveillance apps on the market! Unfortunately, many of these apps are junk and their customer support is unresponsive.
My first app cost me over $100, hours of frustration, and it NEVER worked.
Since then I’ve spent more than 120 hours testing phone spyware and found 8 apps that offer great value, advanced features, and reasonable refund policies.
Most monitoring apps allow you to see SMS text messages, GPS location, WhatsApp chats, phone call logs, web browsing history etc. But there are a couple apps that offer MUCH MORE.
I don’t care why you need to spy on someone’s phone. I’ve been there and I get it.
This guide will help you choose the right spy app and avoid the mistakes I made.
My Top 3 Picks
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Here is my list of 8 best spy apps on the market…plus one to AVOID. All of these apps are undetectable on both Android and iOS phhones.
uMobix is the best spy app for Android and iPhones.
This spy app has the most features, simple installation, LIVE customer support, and the best refund policy in the industry. Let’s look at why uMobix is the best phone spying app for both Android and iOS devices.
uMobix is the best spying app for iPhones and iOS devices because it offers the most features you can get without jailbreaking the device.
The following features differentiate the uMobix phone spy app from mSpy and SPYIC (#2 and #3 on my list):
In addition to all of these features uMobix is compatible with ANY version of the iOS operating system.
You will NOT need access to the target phone to start monitoring. All you need are the user’s iCloud login details.
uMobix is the best spying app for Androids because it allows you to monitor more social media apps than any other spy app. This includes Facebook, FB Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, LINE, Viber, Tinder, TikTok, Kik, WeChat, Skype, Signal, Telegram, Reddit, and more.
Most Android mobile spy apps require you to use a keylogger to view social media platforms. But a keylogger only allows you to see one side of the conversation.
While uMobix has keylogger, the app offers social media monitoring natively, so you can see BOTH sides of the conversation. For those apps that cannot be monitored, you will still see every keystroke.
uMobix offers the best compatibility in the industry. It works with all versions of the Android operating system. It even works Google’s Pixel, which has some of the toughest security of any smart phone.
uMobix is the best spy app on the market because it offers the most features, simple installation, and the best support in the industry. NO OTHER company offers live phone support.
Check out my full uMobix Review for more information.
uMobix was the most reliable app I tested. Trust me, the last thing you need when trying to discretely monitor someone’s cell phone is to have to re-install software or troubleshoot.
uMobix is the best cell phone monitoring solution out there. It allows you to keep an eye on everything that happens on the target phone remotely.
The annual “Full” package is a good 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 tablets. To date it is the most reliable spying app I’ve tested.
SPYIC is my 2nd favorite spy software. SPYIC differs from uMobix in a couple important ways. Their app won’t monitor as many social media platforms and they do NOT offer live phone support.
If you need to monitor text messages, a GPS tracker, web browser history, phone call logs, and contact list, SPYIC has you covered.
It also has some advanced features you won’t find with any other phone spy app besides uMobix.
WHY SPYIC IS NO LONGER #1
While SPYIC gives you access to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and more, WITHOUT rooting the phone, it doesn’t offer access to as many apps as uMobix.
They also don’t offer live phone support. In fact, they don’t even offer live chat support. If you have a problem during installation you’ll have to submit an email and wait.
This can be incredibly inconvenient if you don’t have regular access to the phone you want to monitor.
SPYIC’s app includes a powerful keylogger that records everything typed on the device.
It’s also much less expensive than apps that offer similar features. mSpy (my #3 pick) requires a more expensive “family plan” to unlock these powerful features.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY
All the best mobuile spy apps require you to have physical access to the target phone.
SPYIC is no exception. But you don’t have to root the phone to get access to advanced spying capabilities.
Most smartphone surveillance apps use a keylogger to capture social media chat messages, but this only lets you see half the conversation.
SpyIC’s Android spyware does have a keylogger, but it also allows you to monitor many of these apps natively, so you can see both sides of the conversation. In fact, no other mobile spy application that I’ve tested gives you access to Snapchat without rooting the phone.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Not having to root the device means:
In terms of stability SPYIC is one of the best in 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, they offer strong customer service and a transparent, hassle-free refund policy.
One of my biggest frustrations with spy apps is they 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 #2 spyware solution. This powerful mobile spy app allows you to see just about everything that happens on the target device (Android and iOS). It’s a great option for monitoring employees, your kids, or whoever.
SPYIC is a good second choice. It’s priced competitively, stable, has, and has a no-nonsense refund policy.
mSpy has been in the cell phone spy app business for a long time. It is the most popular spyware in the world, but mSpy does not offer the features or the support of my #1 pick.
Until recently mSpy had fallen behind other spy apps in terms of innovation. But their new screenlogger feature (requires the Family package), puts mSpy once again solidly in the top couple spots for Androids.
Many of the best spying apps for the Android platform require you to root the phone to see chats from Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. The mSpy app now 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. mSpy allows you to see the messages they receive in these chat apps.
mSpy’s offers many common features like GPS tracking, phone logs, contact list, multimedia files and more.
But they also offer screen recording and screen time limits so you closely monitor your child’s phone usage. Most software in this category won’t allow you limit your kids screen time.
They also offer very responsive tech support. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you’re not tech savvy, a good tech support team can be a lifesaver.
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. It is also undetectable once installed.
mSpy is my #3 pick.
While it doesn’t offer as many social media monitoring options, it’s still a solid choice. You’ll be able to see all texts, iMessages, and WhatsApp messages.
It doesn’t offer some of the advanced tools (like call intercept or call recording) of FlexiSPY, but this cell phone spyware app still offers good value overall. And FlexiSPY (my #5 pick) requires rooting for these advanced features.
Cocospy is a relatively new addition to my list of monitoring solutions. They offer a VERY similar feature set to SPYIC.
It’s a great app for monitoring a child, loved ones, or anyone else. Their features include everything you would get with SPYIC.
The control panel has an easy to use menu that allows you to quickly see all the phones information.
One of my biggest frustrations with spyware is that the apps are often unstable. Cocospy 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.
Cocospy is a solid app that offers very similar features to SPYIC. It’s great for monitoring kids, employees, or loved ones.
The FlexiSPY Extreme software is hands down the most powerful spying application on the market.
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.
FlexiSPY has a call recording feature so you can record and listen to calls. You can also 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 differs from uMobix in two important ways. They do NOT offer live phone support. And FlexiSPY requires you to root the target device to get all the features.
Where this product REALLY shines is when you order a device with FlexiSPY preinstalled on the target 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 make call recordings, 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.
While it has high price tag, the FlexiSPY Extreme package has unmatched spy capabilities, allowing you to record calls and listen to live calls.
Where FlexiSPY really shines is in its advanced set of features. 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 viewing data on target devices.
You will be required to root or jailbreak the device to get the full services iKeyMonitor. So if you’re uncomfortable with that process, you might be better off looking at uMobix. The keylogger functionality is quite powerful but requires either rooting or jailbreaking the target device.
iKeyMonitor is another solid smartphone monitoring app. 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.
The iKeyMonitor package is pretty solid. Setting up the app was a bit more technically involved than other spy apps we tested, but it seemed very stable. All the spying functionality works as advertised, and the app is hidden from the end user, making it completely undetectable.
You’ll be paying an additional $6 per month compared to our first choice, and getting basically the same functionality, so it came in number 5 in our comparison.
For more information on this mobile spying app, go to https://ikeymonitor.com/
Spyera is another great solution.
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 app in my Spyera review article.
Spyera is one of the better budget spy phone apps on the market. This spying software lacks some of the more advanced capabilities.
Spyera 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.
XNSPY is another of the more innovative spy apps on the market.
It shows you call logs, allows social media account monitoring of apps (Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp), photos and videos, location tracking features, and has some impressive extras.
You can read more about XNSPY here.
This 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.
Highster Mobile is a complete waste of time and money and should be avoided at all costs. They lack advanced spying features, their tech support is non-existent and their refund polices are shady AF.
I was first drawn to Highster because they offer a one-time payment option. It sounds great, but I was never able to get the product working. And, of course, no one responded to my request for a refund.
You get what you pay for and Highster isn’t worth it.
Here are the answers to common questions people have about installing and using a mobile spy app.
Spy apps are smartphone surveillance software that allows you monitor the phone of another person. These apps allow you to see incoming & outgoing calls, SMS or text messages, social media chats, contacts, and even allow you to track the phone’s GPS location in real-time. A good surveillance app is hidden and unseen by the end-user of the phone.
My top 3 picks allow you to spy on a cell phone without installing software on the target device if it’s an iOS device. Android devices require spy apps be installed on the phone. So you’ll need to know the user’s passcode to unlock the device.
The method for checking for spyware is different for both iPhones (iOS) and Androids. This article shows you how to check for spyware on an Android phone.
Installing a phone tracker app without the user knowing is quite simple. For iPhones you only need the users iCloud login and password. Android phones require you to download and install an app on the phone itself.
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 device itself is compatible with the spyware. Most phone spy apps require that you download the app to the device itself.
In many cases it is illegal to spy on someone’s cell phone. In the United States it is legal to install and use a spy app when:
Some spyware apps require you to root the phone to get the most advanced spying features. None of my top 5 picks require rooting or jailbreaking the target phone.
However, since the user’s data is only stored on the phone, you will need to install the app directly onto the device. This requires you to have physical access to the phone.
Phone spying apps are different from parental control apps. Most parental control software has features like screen time monitoring.
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.