*** This post was updated on: September 2, 2020 ***
Do you need to discretely monitor someone’s phone?
You’ve come to the right place.
In this article I’m comparing the best spy apps on the market.
I don’t care why you need to monitor someone’s phone. I’ve been there and I get it.
A day of not knowing what someone is doing on their phone can seem like an eternity.
But the fact is, some of the companies in this business are scammy as hell, so I want to help you avoid the mistakes I made when you buy a spy app.
My first purchase cost me $100 and the product never worked.
Trust me, you’ve got enough stress in your life right now, the last thing you need is to mess around with some stupid app that will NEVER work.
I’ll admit, after this experience I got a little bit obsessed and spent more than 100 hours testing 19 different apps.
Ultimately I came up with this list of the 6 best products on the market.
In this comparison I’ll reveal:
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.
Here are my favorites if you want to jump ahead…
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.
Here is my list of the 6 best mobile spy apps iPhones (phones & tablets) and Android. Once installed these tools are completely undetectable.
mSpy is the best iPhone spy app on the market, and is as good as it gets in terms of reliability and support.
It’s geared towards cell phone monitoring of your kids, employees, partners, spouse, or whoever.
If you’re looking for more detailed information, you can read more in my mSpy review.
The basic cell phone monitoring solution does not require jailbreaking and is great for those who struggle with technology. It offers the ability to monitor Whatsapp and 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.
Of all the brands I tested, mSpy was the best spy app for iPhone and Android devices. Regardless of what type of phone your target uses, mSpy has you covered.
This phone spying app has all of the features that you would expect, including monitoring sms messages, instant messages, contacts, call logs (including callers phone number), and pinpointing the user’s location. It also has some extras you won’t find anywhere else.
This app is, far and away, the best iPhone spy app. It has both a non-jailbreak and jailbreak version, simple setup, intuitive control panel, and very competitive pricing.
While the app’s features are more limited without performing a jailbreak, the full version of the app has everything you could possibly want, including monitoring physical location history, sms messages, and all the popular social media platforms.
While it doesn’t offer some of the advanced tools (like call intercept or call recording) of my 2nd choice, this cell phone spyware offers the most value overall.
uMobix is relatively new to the market but has quickly become one of the most reliable products out there and one of the best hidden spy apps. Overall it is a CLOSE 2nd to mSpy.
With a focus on innovative features backed by strong customer support and the most transparent, hassle-free refund policy in the industry, they’ve manage to beat out everyone but mSpy.
It has all the monitoring features of the other apps I’ve listed, plus a few incredibly powerful features not offered by any other mobile phone spy software out there.
This powerful spy app actually allows you to run a keylogger on Androids with no need to root the device. No other app offers this functionality.
It is also capable of defeating 2-step authentication on iOS devices, allowing you to install the software without ever touching the target phone. This features DOES require that you know the login credentials of the users iCloud account.
On top of that, the app itself is VERY stable, and their support is responsive and efficient. Check out my full uMobix Review here.
One of my biggest frustrations with spyware is that the apps are often unstable. 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 a great value, and is a couple bucks per month cheaper than mSpy’s “premium” product. 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, Nokia Symbian, and the Blackberry. It is one of the more reliable apps I’ve tested, and the app setup is straightforward.
FlexiSPY is hands down the most powerful spy app on the market and my pick for one of the best hidden spy apps for Android devices. It’s also my 3rd pick overall.
It has all the real time monitoring features of the other products I’ve listed, plus a few incredibly powerful features not offered by any other mobile phone spy software out there.
This powerful app actually allows you to listen live to phone calls in real time. No other app offers this functionality.
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!
The FlexiSPY phone monitoring app has been around since 2005 and, in that time, it has set the bar for advanced monitoring and spy capabilities. 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 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. If you’re not comfortable with this process, you’ll be better off going with one of the other companies that offer to do this for you for a small fee, or don’t require it, such as Highster Mobile. Bottom line, it offers many of the same great features as the others, but at a more reasonable price. And with the free trial you can try before you buy.
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 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 spy software, 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. But it still has some of the most important capabilities at a much lower price. If you are on a budget, this is a great choice.
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.
Basic support is available, but it is not as easy or as helpful as uMobix. Customers are required to submit questions on their site, which are answered in a queue format. You CAN purchase an enhanced telephone support package about $30, and this can be extremely helpful when difficulties come up.
XNSPY is another of the more innovative spy apps on the market. Like most of the options we’ve covered so far, it gives you the ability to read someone’s text messages without their phone, track a phone without them knowing, and spy on a cell phone without installing software on it. 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.
You’ll want to verify that the device you’re looking to monitor is compatible with the app. This can be done quickly using the compatibility wizard on their website. Once verified, installation and setup of this tracker app were both quick and easy. While this tracker app will allow you to monitor a phone without permission, that is not it’s INTENDED use.
Of course, how you use it is up to you.
The Live Control Panel is a nice add-on, but where it really excels is when you need to monitor multiple devices. It allows you to quickly switch between each device from your control panel, saving lots of time when you have lots of data to check.
By default, there is an icon on the monitored device’s screen as well as notifications that the device is being monitored, but this can be disabled if you like. You’ll certainly get better information if the target device you are spying on isn’t constantly reminded that you’re watching them.
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:
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.
There are a lot of good solutions to spy on a cell phones data and track it’s current location. The amount of real information that can be provided depends on whether or not you root the Android device, as this provides access to absolutely everything on the phone. Androids don’t have an iCloud backup spying equivalent.
Apple devices run on the iOS software platform. Smartphone spyware generally falls into two categories; those that require jailbreaking the device and those that don’t. But there is one notable exception.
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 spy software are essentially the same.
So what data CAN you track using these spyware apps?
Whether you’re planning on monitoring a child, employee, spouse, 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. All of the cell phone spy software we’ve covered allows location tracking of the target device. Some spy 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.
A good cell phone location tracker app allows 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. Every one of our picks has this capability. You can even read a text message without installing anything.
Some even allow you to log all texts and download them from the phone later. So even if the user deletes their messages, you’ll still have them in your control panel.
Hacking into someone’s text or sms messages is a powerful tool to monitor who they’re talking with and what they’re saying. Some spy apps even allow you to read a text message without installing anything on their phone. Some smartphones require installing software, but iPhone spy software only requires that you know their iCloud login credentials.
One of the more common features of a spy phone app is the ability to see the users address book. Even a budget option will include this functionality.
The ability to see a phone’s browser history gives you insight into what someone is doing on their phone. All the spy apps in this comparison offer this feature. The internet browsing history function is a great feature for employee monitoring.
Monitoring the browser history of a phone allows you to see every website that they’ve visited. You can also see which wi fi networks the phone has used.
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 in social media 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. These provide a user-friendly and easy way to spy on chat conversations across multiple platforms. And you can spy on it all from your web account browser, in an easy to use dashboard.
These features are especially important for parents who are worried about cyberbullying. Parents can quickly login and monitor messages, posts, and activities.
Snapchat is one of the most popular chatting apps in the world for sending messages, photos, and videos. Unfortunately children don’t understand the dangers of this app as users photos can be captured and used against them. Users photos and data can then be used against them. While it usually requires rooting, a good spying app will allow you to quickly monitor Snapchat.
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. Many apps will store calls in a log that you can review and download from the device whenever you like. 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. You’ll also be able to view call logs and call history. The call log feature is available in both jailbreak and non-jailbreak versions.
GPS tracking software allows you to see where the phone is currently. Most of these apps will 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. Not apps offer features like these but it’s a great way to capture the surroundings and activities happening around the phone.
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. This is one of the more under-utilized features of spyware as it captures EVERY keystroke that your kids make.
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 you’ll find ways to monitor the phone of your kids. If you have multiple kids you can see everything from one place.
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. In most cases this can be accomplished without the owner being aware of the app.
The best spy apps for Android phones are mSpy, FlexiSPY, and uMobix. It offers a good balance between price, features, and terrific customer service. As previously mentioned, the Android operating system is easier to track and monitor.
mSpy can be installed remotely if you choose the non-jailbreak version. 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 phone.
Hacking a phone with spy software 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. The surveillance app stores this info and then uploads the data to your web control panel to view. You can then access this from your device or computer.
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.
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.