How to Track a Cell Phone’s Location Without Installing Software on the Target Phone

using an app to secretly track a phone

*** This post was updated on: April 2, 2021 ***

Learning how to track a cell phone without installing software is actually WAY easier than it should be.

But what if you could also see their texts, chats, and phone call logs as well? 

Imagine the peace of mind you'd feel from KNOWING.

Here's what I'll be revealing:

  • the ONLY reliable way to spy on a phone without installing software
  • what you absolutely need to know to avoid technical problems
  • the mistake I made that cost me over $100 and 4 hours of my life
  • why "hackers" and "free" solutions are a waste of time

I'm not proud to admit it, but because of some suspicious behavior, I needed to track someone's cell phone location.

The fact is, sometimes you just need to protect yourself or your family.

But when I first started out I quickly learned that cell phone security is tough to beat.

On top of that, many of the companies selling cell phone tracking solutions are just out to get your money. Their products are junk, and they often have shady refund policies.

Want to Jump to my Favorite Spying Apps?

Click here to read my comparison of the best mobile spy software on the market.

And don't even get me started on the hackers that claim they can get you "total access" to someone's phone.  That's a whole other scam.

If you're like I was, you're already stressing what's going on behind your back.

So the last thing you need is to waste your time and money on solutions that will never work.

But there is hope.  In fact, you don't have to worry about any of this.

Because I've already done all the hard work.  

By the time you finish reading this post you'll know exactly how to start tracking someone's cell phone location without installing software and get the answers you need TODAY.

Track a Cell Phone Location Without Installing Software

Secretly tracking a cell phone without installing software can be very challenging, even if you're a techie like myself.

While trying to spy on a family member's phone I tried a few different solutions with little success.

I started by emailing with a hacker that claimed he could "unlock" the phone.

But then I thought, if I have access to the phone, wouldn't he too?

Then I found a "free" solution that promised to show everything on the cell phone.

Free = no support. I wasted a LOT of time and never could get it working.

So I decided to suck it up and try a paid solution from well-known company.

Track a Cell Phone Without Them Knowing Using Spyware

apps you can monitor with spyware

Want to learn how to track a cell phone without them knowing you're doing it?

By far the easiest way to spy on someone is by using a spy app.  

Spy apps allow you to monitor just about everything that happens on the target device.

This usually includes location tracking, phone call logs, contacts, SMS text messages, web browser history and more.

Some of the more advanced cell phone spy apps will also allow you to monitor social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and Line.  

Some will even allow you to see what someone is doing in Tinder and other dating apps.

But beware...

Not all spy apps are alike.  And some definitely work better than others.

I'll share my horror story in a minute.  But first...

Before you can determine whether or not you can monitor a phone without installing software you need to EXACTLY what type of cell phone you need to track.  So let's take a look at solutions for the two most popular types.

How to Track an iPhone Without Installing Software

Want to learn how to track an iPhone without access to it and without the user knowing?

You're in luck.  iPhones are actually the only device that allow you to spy on the cell phone location without installing software on it.

How is this possible?

There are a handful of spy apps out there that tap into the users iCloud account to grab all the data.

This means that all YOU need to know is the user's login information for their iCloud account.  Basically their Apple ID and password.

You never actually have to get physical access to the target device to spy on someone.

This solution allows you to see track the phones location, read SMS messages, read Facebook Messenger and Instagram messages and A LOT more.

The Best Way to Track an iPhone Without Them Knowing

uMobix lets you track a cell phone location without them knowing.

It allows you to track a target phone (iPhone only) without first installing software on the target device.

It uses GPS tracking to locate a cell phone anywhere in the world. No technical knowledge is needed to use this phone tracker.

While there are plenty of apps out there that allow you to track an iPhone (or any iOS device) without the person knowing, uMobix is only one that also offers this capability and the capability to see things like SMS, Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp messages.

This makes it easy for you to spy on someone without having to install any software of their phone.  

Why is uMobix My Favorite Solution for iPhones?

  • simple installation - so you can start monitoring their cell phone location without installing software
  • no jailbreak needed - so you NEVER need access to the target device
  • powerful features - so you can monitor EVERYTHING on their phone.
  • The industry's only LIVE PHONE SUPPORT - so you're not constantly troubleshooting

If you want to spy on an iPhone user's location without them knowing they're being tracked, I haven't found a better solution than uMobix.  

Is Jailbreaking Required on iOS Devices?

If you don't know what jailbreaking means it's essentially unlocking all of the security built into an iPhone (iOS) device.  

For most spying software that allows you to track a target phone you will not be required to jailbreak the target device.  Simply enter their Apple ID and password into your control panel.

If you can avoid it, you should for a few important reasons:

  • It voids the warranty of the device (sort of, factory resetting fixes this)
  • Apple removed the ability to jailbreak in a recent software update
  • It requires physical access to the device.

Hopefully this has convinced you.  

While jailbreaking does give you access to more information, it requires getting your hands on the phone and this can be difficult to do without them knowing.

How to Spy on an Android Cell Phone Without Having It

Tracking an Android phone is a bit trickier.

No matter what type of Android phone they have, you won't be able to spy on the cell phone without installing software.

What else will you need?

Other than having the phone in your hand, the only piece of information you'll need is the passcode of the device itself.

Once you've got the phone unlocked you simply download and install the the cell phone tracker app.  Then follow instructions that come with it.

Most Android cell phone location trackers will allow you to see current gps location, location history, SMS messages, phone logs, contacts, and web browser history.

To get more functionality you'll generally have to root the device.

Best Way to Track an Android Without Them Knowing

spyic logo

My favorite Android tracking app is SpyIC.

There are lots of Android tracking apps out there.  And all of them, including SpyIC require physical access to the device.

But the SpyIC app offers more tracking features than any other app without having to root the target device.

You'll be able to see the phones GPS location as well as a complete history of everywhere the phone has been.  

You'll also be able to read SMS, Instagram, Facebook, Viber, Whatsapp, and Snapchat messages from your control panel.  No other app currently matches these capabilities on Android.

Why is SpyIC My Favorite Android Spy Solution?

  • simple installation - so you can start monitoring in minutes
  • no root needed - so you don't need to be a techie to make it work
  • powerful features - so you can see EVERYTHING on their phone.

If you need to see an Android user's location without them knowing they're being monitored SpyIC is hands down my favorite solution.

Is Rooting Required?

The equivalent of jailbreaking an iPhone, rooting an Android is sometimes required to unlock advanced monitoring features.

With most apps this is not required to track a cell phone location location.

But if you need to read Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and other social network chat apps many do require rooting. 

There is one notable exception to this rule.

One spying app in particular allows you to install a keylogger without rooting the Android device.  You won't need to know their Google account password either.

This keylogger will keep track of everything the user types on their phone.  It won't let you see what others are typing in the chat, but it is EXTREMELY powerful because you don't have to root the target phone to use it.

Here are some of the features you should expect to see in any GOOD app.

GPS Location Tracking

One of the most frequent questions I get is from readers asking how to track a cell phone location without the owner knowing.

This is relatively easy using either of the two apps I mentioned above.  

The apps will tell you in real time where the target phone is currently, as well as give you a cell phone location history of everywhere it has been during the time period you specify.

All of this is easily seen from the web based control panel of the software once you've signed up for an account.

You can also use Google Maps for tracking, if you're able to get your hands on the person's phone.  You won't need access to their Google account, you just need to enable location services.


Another handy feature of many spying apps is geofencing.  This allows you to setup notifications whenever a cell phone leaves or enters an area on the map that you specify.

Using GPS, the cell phone location is actively monitored by the app.  Should they leave the zone you created or enter the zone you created, you will receive a notification.

Just so it's clear let's use an example.

Let's say you want to track your boyfriend's cell phone to see if he's goofing off after work.  You could setup a zone that includes his favorite bars or friends houses.  Then when his cell phone enters that zone, you will receive a notice.

This happens in real time so long as the target phone is connected to cell service.

Surveillance Software FAQs

Want to spy on a cell phone without installing any software on their phone or without touching it all?

To track a cell phone location is relatively easy with the right tools.  But you can only do this without an app if the user has an iPhone.  For an Android or other types of mobile phones you will need physical access.

Again, my favorite tool for this is uMobix phone monitoring software.

Since it uses their Apple ID you can do this without access to the target phone. 

The uMobix dashboard is highly intuitive and easy to use.  You can even monitor multiple devices should the need arise.  Here is snapshot of the dashboard you'll be using.

mspy control panel

Simply select the information you wish to view from the choices on the left-hand side of the screen.  All relevant data will be displayed instantly. 

As I mentioned before, this software is designed for tracking iPhone and Android devices, but only iPhones allow you to track the phone without touching it.

Anything more than just basic location tracking requires a spy app.  Read our in-depth mSpy buyer's guide.  Here you'll find everything you need to know about it's capabilities and pricing, including how to track a phones location, intercept texts, snapchat videos, and more.

Can I Secretly Track My Child's Phone?

As a parent there are few things more terrifying than not knowing how your child is using their phone. 

I get lot's of questions like "How can I track my daughters phone without her knowledge?" or "How can I track my sons iPhone without his permission?"  

With a spy app you can easily keep tabs on everyone they talk to, who they chat with, what sort of pictures they're taking, and more.

While there are potential legal issues with spying on a cell phone you don't own, you can most certainly install a monitoring app on your kid's phone with no issues. 

This will allow you to keep close tabs on what they read, see, talk about, and who they talk to.

What Are the Capabilities of Cell Phone Tracking Apps?

Spy apps are cell phone surveillance software.  They allow you discretely monitor another cell phone.  Some people also refer to these as stalkerware.

If your boyfriend, girlfriend, or whoever is one of these people, the ability to use an app to track a cell phone can save you a lot of money.

A tracking app does exactly that and more. 

They allow you to monitor the movement of the target phone using it's built-in GPS.  Every few minutes you'll be able to see an updated location of their phone. 

You can even setup geo-fencing zones so that you get notified by the app when he or she goes to a specific location.  Within minutes of their arrival you'll receive a notification on your phone.

This is great when you want to track someone like a child.  You can make sure they go and come home safely from school.

There are plenty of iOS and Android spying apps out there. 

If you're looking for more advanced phone surveillance capabilities such as monitoring ALL chat applications (such as Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, Viber, Line etc), geo location, and emails you'll want to take a look at SpyIC.  

Just be aware that this advanced functionality DOES require physical access to the target phone.

Below is a detailed list of everything you'll have access to using the SpyIC app:

  • incoming and outgoing phone calls
  • full contact list with cell phone number
  • sent and received SMS texts, learn more here.
  • chats from Whatsapp
  • browser history
  • calendar events and notes
  • location tracking of the mobile device
  • hack their passwords, read more
  • read messages from another device without installing software

If you're looking for more capabilities than those listed above, check out our list of the best cell phone tracking apps that don't require permission.

But if you're looking for one that allows you track a cell phone location and spy on a cell phone's text messages without installing software on the target phone uMobix (for iPhone) and SpyIC (for Android) are by far your best options.  

Track Someone by Cell Phone Number Without Them Knowing

Are you looking to track someone using just their phone number?

While it is possible to track a cell phone location, it requires more than just a cell phone number to start spying on someone. 

While there are lots of sites out there that promise they can do this, they don't work.  


There just isn't any way to track someone with only a cell phone number.

Mobile devices and cell phone security is WAY too advanced.

Unless you're the NSA you're not going to be able to spy without software.  If you want to know what they're doing or track them you'll need more than just the cell phone number.  

Looking for Even More Advanced Tracking Functionality?

If you're looking for the app with the most advanced, real time capabilities we recommend FlexiSPY for cell phones.

Not only does it allow you to track someone, it offers powerful options that no other software does such as call intercept, call recording, and more.  You can even use it to hack into someone's Facebook account.

This is in addition the ability to track the location of the target phone, intercept messages, remotely turn on the phone's camera, see their browsing history, and more, all without them knowing.

About the Author Jason Thompson

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.