With nearly 100 spy apps on the market, it can be hard to tell them apart and even harder to know which ones you should trust. Most are selling the same product with dubious sales tactics and no support. In reality, there are only a handful of spy apps that work and have been on the market long enough to be proven safe over time while still utilizing the latest technology and advanced features.
In this article, we will be reviewing the best spy apps of 2023.
5 Best Spy Apps
The best cell phone spy apps monitor text messages, social media activity, emails, phone calls, the target phone's GPS location, and more. The top spy apps in this list can also activate the phone's cameras and microphone.
These apps are designed as parental control applications to keep tabs on children's phone activities, but are also commonly used by employers and even to catch a cheating spouse.
uMobix is the best spy app of 2023 and is what I use to spy on my son's phone. Installation was easy and, more importantly, fast.
uMobix has capabilities that far exceed any other spy app currently available, with the exception of our next choice on this list. What separates the two is that this application manages to be much more user-friendly without sacrificing features and monitoring capabilities. In short, you're much less likely to be stuck or not know how to get it working.
The uMobix app provides access to more social media than any other spy app on the market, including Facebook, Reddit, Tinder, WhatsApp, TikTok, Telegram, Snapchat, Instagram, Skype, and Zoom.
Interestingly, this app also has a spyware detection feature to alert you to other spyware apps which are already installed. If you are spying on your child for their safety, it provides peace of mind to know that no one else is watching them.
Tech support is available by phone, which can be a lifesaver if you need to install the app in a limited amount of time.
I have had no complaints aside from intercepted data only staying available for 30 days. But, the limit is higher on multi-month plans so I am only taking away a half star for it.
- Remote camera activation
- Can stream live video
- Remote microphone activation
- Real-time GPS tracking
- Access to all social media
- Simple installation
- Data retention limited to 30 days on the basic plan
Although not as user-friendly or as powerful, mSpy has had a great reputation for many years now and it is also the cheapest spy app on this list. mSpy, which is used to keep track of user activity, is totally invisible to the user when in stealth mode and anyone using the device will never be aware of its presence.
It has a long list of capabilities but these are some of the highlights:
- Call Logs
- All SMS Messages
- Monitor Social Media Content, including Facebook
- Browser History
- Compatible with all versions of Android and iPhone
Deleted SMS messages can be recovered and this app can also silently block calls on the target phone.
The mSpy app is a good choice for tech-savvy users who require the greatest amount of information about the personal activities of the target.
- Proven track record
- Totally hidden
- Easy installation
- GPS tracking
- Great tech support if you need it
- Lacks 2 advanced features of uMobix
EyeZy is one of the best spy apps for Android and iOS devices that doesn't require you to jailbreak or root the target phone. Exploiting iCloud syncing will provide the real-time GPS location tracking as well as the list of contacts, e-mails, photos, and videos. Even more information is available for Android phones using Wi-Fi sync.
If you are able to install the app on the target phone, eyeZy offers a much wider range of advanced capabilities to make it easy to track the device via an online dashboard, including:
- Keystroke Capture
- Website Browsing History
- Sends alerts to your phone for specific conversations
- Call logs
It does well when monitoring Facebook, Tinder, Snapchat, Skype, WhatsApp, KiK, and Instagram text messages to see what the person does online.
While this phone spying application is not quite as advanced it does make up for it by being the easiest to use and having the best tech support out of all the apps I have used. It is also compatible with all major smartphones and mobile devices made since 2013, giving it the widest compatibility of any phone spying software.
- Easiest to use
- Totally hidden
- Fast installation
- GPS tracking
- Allows you to monitor social media apps
- Not quite as powerful as mSpy
FlexiSpy, although packed with an impressive security portfolio, may not appeal to all due to its significantly outdated and somewhat confusing interface. This may hamper the ease-of-use aspect but the app does offer some of the most comprehensive security features currently available. If other options don't suit your needs, you may consider this app.
- Call History
- Message Logs
- Social Media Monitoring
- Browser & Search History
- Keylogger functionality
A standout feature is FlexiSpy's capability to take pictures or videos from the target phone, akin to uMobix. It also has the ability to activate the microphone, transforming the target device into a live bug, and it can even record live phone calls and upload them to the cloud for retrieval later.
While the interface needs modernization, it's important to note the powerful monitoring abilities it offers. In scenarios where a comprehensive surveillance tool is required, occasional interface difficulties can be overlooked.
- Extremely powerful
- Live camera streaming
- Pre-loaded phones available
- GPS tracking
- Microphone activation
- Call recording
- Older interface
- Requires iPhone jailbreak or Android rooting
Cocospy is the kind of app that gets advertised all the time and it seems fine at first glance, but just doesn't quite add up. We're only including it here because so many people have asked about it and if Cocospy of safe. The short version is I'm not thrilled with it.
The main advantages of Cocospy are that it is dirt cheap and has a control panel that is easy to view.
As of September 21, 2023, it's priced at $9.99 per month which is amazing for any phone tracking app.
Unfortunately, I have seen several warning signs with this app that would make me have serious hesitations about recommending Cocospy. First, the features listed on the website do not include the ability to monitor popular apps like Tinder and Facebook. Upon further investigation, they are listed in the demo, but no professional company would let this mismatch stand.
Either the demo is over-stating Cocospy's abilities to get more sales or the list of features has not been updated. Either of these possibilities does not really happen with tracking software that actually work.
The other warning sign with this app is the pricing. They have the prices listed on their website as $49.99 per month, 3 months for $69.99, or 12 months for $119.99 (or $9.99 per month).
This is an indication of their absolutely huge cancellation rate. If they are offering 3 months for less than the price of 2 and a year for the cost of 2.4 months then you know no customers are staying past the second month.
For you as a user, that's not good. For parents who need an app that lets you monitor your kids' activities and will allow you to track and find the location of your family, that's a good reason to be very worried.
How To Choose A Spy App
Choosing the right spy app for your needs involves considering various factors such as the features of the app, ease of installation, user-friendliness, and compatibility with your target device. Here are few tips to consider:
- Features: Each application comes with its unique set of features. Some are more comprehensive, offering capabilities like live call recording and environmental recording. Choose an app that matches your surveillance needs.
- Compatibility: Check if the application is compatible with the operating system of the target device. Some software is designed for Android devices and others work on iOS. Certain apps are universal and work on both.
- User Interface: Choose an app that is user-friendly and intuitive to navigate. This will help you manage your surveillance with minimal technical difficulties.
- Pricing: These apps come with an associated cost that will vary according to the app's features and the duration you are likely to need it. Affordability is a key factor to consider when choosing a spy app.
- Stealth Mode: Essentially, the software should remain hidden on the target device. It should not be detectable either by the owner of the device or by any security software installed on it.
- Customer Support: Opt for monitoring software that offers reliable customer support. Should you encounter any difficulties or issues, they should be readily available to assist you.
Choosing phone monitoring software is a balancing act. You will want an app for iOS and Android with a wide range of features to meet your needs, but you also need an app that's easy to navigate, compatible, affordable, discreet, and backed by help when you need it.
How To Install Spy Software On A Cell Phone
There are a variety of methods to install a tracker on someone's phone. The easiest way is to simply borrow it to make a call, walk into another room while you continue to talk. You can also take the opportunity to download the spy app and install it secretly. Installation is automatic and initial setup is minimal as it will only require entering the username and password to connect to the dashboard before going into stealth mode.
Those that have to use a spy app remotely, without touching the mobile phone, will need to have the target phone's Apple ID, iCloud, or Google credentials as this is what allows you to connect it to the spy app. It should be noted, however, that the monitoring features with this method are more limited, though still useful.
In many places, it is legal to use spying apps for smartphones if the person you are monitoring has given you their consent or if you are their legal guardian. You can rarely legally monitor your spouse, though the issue can become complicated depending on who owns the device in question.
We strongly recommend against monitoring someone by any means without consulting a lawyer first. Some laws are written in such a way that you may be taking on much more risk than you realized and the penalties may be severe.
When you suspect your partner is cheating, it's easy to let your curiosity and jealousy take over, but you should consult a lawyer before accessing any electronic device in secret. Ensure you are aware of your legal situation before engaging in potentially risky behavior.
Can a spy app be installed on a phone without having access to it?
It is not possible to install something on a smartphone without having physical access to the phone for a short time, but it is entirely possible to monitor it remotely. Having the iCloud or Google credentials allows you to track its location and access most of the data on the device.
What features are important when buying a phone spying app?
Spy apps are expensive and you may have only one chance to get them installed correctly so it's important to feel confident in the abilities of the app you have chosen, particularly in its capacity to seamlessly read SMS message and social media apps.
A good spying application will remain completely undetectable at all times and will default to stealth mode rather than require that you turn it on.
You need phone snooping software that is fast to install but also has live chat in case something unexpected happens during installation.
The developer's reputation is also important, but every app listed on this page has already been vetted for reputation and is made by a company that has a history in the parental control market.
Can mobile phone spy apps be detected?
Absolutely. However the only way to detect apps for spying on someone is to watch for performance changes, such as bugs and unusual activity on the smartphone.
What are spy apps disguised as?
While other spyware may be concealed inside of a game or app to appear legitimate, monitoring software is typically not disguised. Rather, they run in the background completely hidden from the person you want to monitor, thus it allows you to eliminate the need for direct access to the target phone.
How can I spy on a cell phone for free?
No totally free phone monitoring app exists and it is unlikely anyone will create one. The reason for this is the technology needed to accomplish this is quite complex and nobody is giving that away.
Beware of scammers claiming to have a free phone spy app or with a price that is too low to be believable.
Consumer technology has advanced significantly, and this is reflected in the sophistication of modern tracking applications. Today's phone tracker apps are not only highly effective, tracking even incoming and outgoing calls, but they are also discreet and almost impossible to detect. As a cybersecurity expert, my focus remains on educating others about how digital tools are used to protect your kids from inappropriate texts and content. I believe that an open dialogue is also crucial when it comes to online safety, especially when children are involved.
As parents, it is our responsibility to understand the technological tools our children are using, including the messages and content they share, receive or interact with daily. We must educate ourselves on how these tools work and the potential risks associated with them. These apps are useful for monitoring the of your kids, but they must be used ethically, legally, and with consent.
Whether you're considering an option from our list of the top spy apps to keep an eye on your children's online activities or you are an employer wishing to monitor activity on various platforms, remember the importance of consent. Always comply with legal guidelines and respect personal boundaries. If you want to utilize a spy app, you should use the tool responsibly and transparently, keeping the best interests of everyone in mind.