How to Spy on a Cellphone – Best Spying Apps for Android or iPhone

November 1, 2022
Studio shot of suspicious distrustful young blonde female in green top standing next to her bearded boyfriend, looking over his shoulder, spying over him while he is typing message using mobile phone

In today’s time, having a smartphone is hardly a luxury, it is essential and even necessary. From the little ones to the seniors, almost everyone has a cellphone. In the United States alone, more than 97% of the population has access to a mobile phone, and 50% of the world's population owns a smart phone.

Some might say that spying on a phone is overstepping privacy. I beg to disagree, I believe that in many cases, it is necessary for a safer world and more responsible online behavior. While it is a great tool for communication, education, and entertainment, among other things, it can also be dangerous, especially for kids. Most of the time, children spend more time watching screens than necessary. What's worse, they can talk to strangers, access inappropriate content, and become victims of bullying and sexual harassment. To prevent these, it is practically a must to spy on the cellphones of children.

Clueless about how to spy on iPhone or Android cellphone? Read on and I will share some of the things to do, including products you can use.

Using a Spying Parental Control App

The best and most effective way to spy on cellphones is to use parental control software. It has a long list of features that will let you monitor different things, such as social media, text messages, emails, and multimedia files.

One of the biggest drawbacks of built-in parental controls in Android and iPhone is that they have limited capabilities. For instance, you can restrict age-inappropriate content, but you cannot remotely monitor the websites they are visiting, messages they are sending, and files that they are sharing. This is when parental control apps become beneficial.

If you have no idea about what to choose, below are some of your best options.

1.    Mspy

Our top choice is one of the most popular cellphone spying apps, it can do wonders to your peace of mind. The installation is quick and completely discrete. It monitors pretty much all of the phone's activity like sent and received messages, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, photos, and location, among other things. It also has Keylogger, which is one feature that monitors keystrokes, so you can see what someone has been typing.

Aside from its spying features, it is also well-loved because it is easy to use. On average, the installation takes less than ten minutes. The dashboard is equally impressive, which comes with a seamless interface.

Mspy is also great because of its exceptional customer service. Support is available round-the-clock, making sure that someone is immediately available when you need assistance.

Compatibility: iOS 7 and above, Android 4 and above

* Grab an additional 20% discount with coupon code: PARENTALCONTROL

Try Mspy For Free!

Or read our Mspy review

2.    XNSPY

Whether for parents or employees, this is another notable cellphone spying software. It has an instant messaging recorder, which will record chats so you can see every conversation. It supports different platforms, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, and Instagram. To add, it can also monitor calls and messages. More so, it generates actuarial reports, such as the top ten most visited websites and top five callers. You can also take love screenshots and even wipe out data remotely.

Compatibility: Android 4 and above, iOS 6 and above

Visit XNspy

3.    SpyTrac

This is another powerful cellphone spying app with a plethora of monitoring capabilities. It can track and record calls, so you will know exactly what they are talking about. You can also spy on different instant messaging applications, including Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and Tinder. It also has GPS tracking. Even better, it has live audio, video, and screen.

It is a notable choice for people who are on a budget. It monitors for as low as $.5 daily. Plus, the company is also offering a free trial. This is a chance to test the capabilities of the app before moving to a paid subscription.

Compatibility: Android 4.1 and above

Visit SpyTrac

4.    mSee

From social media apps to GPS location, this is another powerful parental control software with an impressive spying capability. It also detects dangerous apps, preventing the user from downloading them. Plus, it monitors the files on a cellphone, including photos and videos.

With 150,000 active users and over 500,000 downloads, it is clear that the app is trusted by many people. More than having excellent features, it is also well-loved because of its affordable plans and 30-day money-back guarantee. You can also enjoy 24/7 and multilingual customer support.

Compatibility: iOS 7 and above, Android 4 and above

Visit mSee

5.    MyCellSpy

As the name implies, this is another great spy app for cellphones. You can monitor everything that happens on a smartphone, including texts, calls, and locations. There is also a live recording function. Plus, it automatically takes photos of the target phone and sends them to the parent dashboard along with a time stamp. Plus, it tracks the real-time location of the user. You can also browse emails and multimedia files that are stored on a phone.

Compatibility: Android 5 and above

Visit MyCellSpy

Using Built in Features of The Operating System to Spy on a Cellphone

Below are some of the most basic ways to spy on an iPhone or Android phone without a third-party app. These functions are limited but they are free and comes with most phones depending on the model and operating system.

Screen Time Reports on iOS

With Screen Time, you can see a report that provides a snapshot of the apps the owner is using and the time they are spending on specific apps (you can use this to limit the amount of time that kids spend on their iPhones). Here’s how to to do it:

• Start by Activating Family Sharing in an iPhone. Go to Settings and find your Apple ID. Click Set Up Family Sharing, then tap Get Started. Click Screen Time. Tap App Child then Create a Child Account.

• Once you are done setting it up, you can now start spying on their app usage. Open Settings, then go to Screen Time. Click See All Activity. Go to Show More and you will see all apps that have been used in a phone.

Location Monitoring for Android and iOS

Both operating systems have built-in features for location monitoring. Aside from finding a lost device, this feature also comes in handy when someone isn’t responding to your calls and texts, but you want to know his or her location.

On Android phones, you can monitor location through Google Family Link. Here’s how to do it:

• To begin with, you need to activate the location tracking feature of Google Family Link. Open the app, select the person you want to monitor, tap location, and click Set Up. Click Turn On and wait at least half an hour for the procedure to complete.

• Once the set-up is complete, open the app, choose the account you wish to monitor, click Manage Settings, choose Location, and tap See their location. From here, you can see their location whenever you want.

iPhones also have functionality for spying on the location of the user. Follow the simple steps below to do it.

•  Make sure that the Find My iPhone feature is on. Go to Settings, Privacy, and turn on Location Services. After this, turn Find My iPhone On. Make sure to also activate the feature that allows location sharing. This feature must be turned on to start tracking the phone’s location.

•  After completing the set-up, you can now start location monitoring. All that you have to do is to go to Devices and select the name of the phone that you would like to find. After this, you will see a map with a pin to the device’s current location.


Both iPhone and Android have some built-in features to do a bit of spying on the device, including app usage and location tracking. However, these are pretty basic and lack  some of the most important features for spying, especially for parents. In this case, using a 3rd party parental control app is a better option.

As noted above, there are plenty of parental control software and apps to consider. Our personal favorite is Mspy. It packs plenty of features and comes with a seamless interface, making it effortless to install and use.

* Grab an additional 20% discount with coupon code: PARENTALCONTROL

Try Mspy For Free!

Or read our Mspy review


Best Spying Apps

Our Score
  • Completely undetected and 100% discrete
  • Location tracking and geofencing available 
  • Monitor calls, SMS and some apps


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  • AI-Powered alerts and notifications
  • Social Media monitoring focused
  • Very affordable
Very Good
  • 30+ popular apps monitored
  • Review complete browsing history
  • Set to receive automatic or real-time updates
  • Call and surrounding environment recording 
  • Monitor the most popular social media apps 
  • Email monitoring
Very Good
  • Monitor calls, texts, social media accounts, and emails as well as other important platforms
  • AI Phone Guard For Parents and Employers – GPS location tracking, browsing history monitoring and social monitoring.
  • Only available for Android devices, track all calls and texts, including the deleted ones

What was covered on this page?

Mark Harris

Mark Harris

A concerned 46 year old father of 3, ages 16, 12 & 9, Computer scientist "As part of my parenting quest to keep my children safe in the online world, I've researched and tested many parental control apps. I take great pride in contributing to other parents quests by sharing my reviews on Parental Control Now".

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