How Can I Spy On A Cell Phone Without Installing Software On The Target Phone?

how to spy on a cell phone without installing software on the target phone

There are many reasons for wanting, or needing, to find ways to spy on a cell phone without installing software on the target phone. Maybe you want to monitor your kids' activities, think an employee is stealing, or suspect that your spouse may be cheating on you.

If you're not careful, the need to find a way to spy on someone may get in the way of being able to effectively do it, as you may have too much emotional involvement. Read this article to learn how to spy on a cell phone without installing an app.

How To Use A Spy App To Spy On Someone's Cell Phone Without Installing Software

A spy app, also known as "spyware," is a program that can monitor a smartphone and spy on the activities of a person. Employers use these apps for employees for workplace surveillance and parents use them to spy on their children's activities without them knowing. With the help of these apps, you can access and control a smartphone from anywhere in the world, meaning that someone can still see what you're doing even if they aren't physically present.

It's easy to assume that you would need physical access to a cell phone to be able to spy effectively, but this is not true. Although the information available to you will be more limited, it is possible to spy on a cell phone without installing software on it.

1. uMobix

uMobix logo

uMobix is my top choice because it's what I used when I needed to spy on my son's iPhone. I didn't have to install anything on the target phone because I had his iCloud information. But, if you don't have their iCloud credentials or are spying on an Android device, installation takes about 10 minutes.

uMobix has capabilities that far exceed any other spy app, with the exception of our next choice on this list.

The uMobix app provides access to more social media apps than any other spy software on the market, including Tinder, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, WhatsApp, Skype, TikTok, Telegram, Snapchat, and Zoom, just to name a few.

The full feature list will be included in my upcoming review, but the short version is that it gives you full control over the target phone. Not only for surveillance but also for changing device settings like restricting what apps can open or disabling Wi-Fi.

It even has a spy app detection feature to alert you to other spy apps that are already installed on the cell phone. At first glance, this seems like a hilarious feature for a spy app to have. But, if you are spying on your child for their safety, it would be a huge concern if you found that someone else was already monitoring them.

Live tech support by phone is available, which can be a lifesaver if you need to install the app in a limited amount of time.

No complaints aside from intercepted data only staying available for 30 days. But, this limit is higher on multi-month plans so I'm only taking away a half star for it.

Ease of Use:
  • Remote camera activation
  • Can stream live video
  • Remote microphone activation
  • Real-time GPS tracking
  • Access to all social media apps
  • Data retention limited to 30 days on basic plan

2. mSpy

mSpy logo

mSpy offers some of the same features that uMobix does, such as access to social media apps, and also gives you the ability to monitor text messages, calls, the GPS location, and it even has a keylogger feature that allows you to see everything the person types, even if they delete it immediately.

Unfortunately, it lacks more advanced capabilities like camera and microphone activation, placing it in the awkward position of being above average when it comes to usability and features but not incredibly outstanding in either.

What does set it apart, and the reason it is ranking #2 here, is that it has a long and dependable history of being a good way to spy on a phone without installing software on the target cell phone.

In addition, compatibility is the broadest of any app I have used, with coverage across every major iPhone and Android release since 2014.

Ease of Use:
  • Totally hidden
  • Easy installation
  • GPS tracking
  • Great tech support
  • Not as powerful as uMobix

3. EyeZy


EyeZy is the newest and most powerful mobile spy software that doesn't require installation on the target phone. Exploiting iCloud syncing gives access to the person's current GPS location, contacts, e-mail, photos, and videos. Even more information is available for smartphones using Wi-Fi sync.

If you can get physical access to install the app, eyeZy offers a wide range of advanced capabilities including:

  • Keystroke Capture
  • Website Browsing History
  • Alerts for specific conversations
  • Call logs
  • Great tech support

Perhaps most impressive is that you can spy on Facebook, Tinder, Snapchat, Skype, WhatsApp, KiK, and Instagram to see what the person does online.

Ease of Use:
  • Easiest to use
  • Totally hidden
  • Fast installation
  • GPS tracking
  • Access to all social media apps
  • Not quite as powerful as mSpy

4. FlexiSpy

FlexiSpy logo

FlexiSpy (read our full FlexiSpy review) is not as user-friendly as other spy apps that can be used without installing software on the target phone, but it uses the most comprehensive security technology currently available. It too remains totally hidden and has a long list of spy capabilities, and these are some of the highlights:

  • Call Logs
  • All Text Messages
  • Monitor Social Media Content, including Facebook
  • Search History
  • Keylogger
  • Compatible with all versions of Android and iOS

To me, the most alluring abilities of FlexiSpy are related to taking control of the hardware on your cell phone. Once this app is installed, it gives the spy full root control and allows them to silently activate the front and rear cameras or turn on the microphone and listen as the target phone spies for you.

Read the last sentence again. It's worth having a slightly less modern interface to have safe and reliable ways of monitoring cell phones.

Ease of Use:
  • Extremely powerful
  • Live camera streaming
  • Pre-loaded phones available
  • Microphone access
  • Call recording
  • Older interface
  • Expensive

5. KidsGuard Pro iCloud Monitoring

mSpy logo

KidsGuard Pro iCloud Monitoring is designed more for parental control, but that makes it perfect for spying on a phone without having to install any software on the target device. While this option only works for iPhone and will require access to the person's account, it can spy on a phone without installing software on the target phone and provide access to the contact list, pictures, and videos without being detected.

While this is not nearly as powerful as the other methods mentioned here, it's a dependable solution that has its place when you are not able to put software on the target phone.

6. Spyic

With the most popular spy features on the market, Spyic lacks the user-friendliness and tech support options of other methods.

Those that are sure they will not need help with the software can check the call logs, see messages, and view the picture gallery. It does, however, lack microphone and camera activation features.

This app also works well as a camera hacking app.

7. Minspy

Minspy is one of the older names in the cell phone spying, hacking, and monitoring market. This handy tool comes with tons of useful features for both home and business users. Minspy does like to claim to be the most robust monitoring solution ever created. While that may have been true once, we found the spy app to be lacking.

It works well when trying to discover information about someone, with features such as the ability to read email and message contents with timestamps, web browser search logs, text messages, and more. But, it lacks the ability to intercept the security password and misses some Facebook activity.

Free Alternatives For Android

An Android phone gives users a sense of security, while someone can listen to every word said nearby and spy on all activity without installing software on the target Android phone. In this instance, that's a good thing!

Android Device Manager

Android Device Manager

Few Android users have explored their settings deeply enough to know that Android Device Manager is pre-installed, but this service is always active by default. The great thing is that you can map where Android devices have been, and with accuracy to within 60 feet. Best of all, you can spy on everything on the phone without installing software on the target phone.

This dashboard can be used from any computer, or any other device, by following these steps:

  • Visit Find My Device
  • Enter the number and Google Account credentials
  • See where they are going or ring, lock, or remotely erase the device

One important step is getting the password for the cell phone, which is an obvious problem. Figuring out how you will know the password may be harder than just borrowing someone's phone and loading a spy application.

Google Timeline

Google Timeline

Although it still requires you to know their password, Google Maps timeline is one interesting option.

The step-by-step instructions are:

  • Step 1: Open Google Maps
  • Step 2: Log in with the target's Account
  • Step 3: Click on “Menu”
  • Step 4: Select “Your Timeline”

Your screen should now show a timeline where you can see the physical movements of the user. Alternatively, you can click on Menu -> Your Places -> Visited to view location history.

You can get the current location by following the instructions above. Interestingly, you can view the data remotely at any time and the user will not be aware of being watched.

Free Alternatives For iPhone

Apple has never really hidden that it listens to its customers, or that iOS records all online activities. In fact, they seem to think it's a feature to upload all of your data to their servers. In this case, they are right.

If you're wondering how to spy on a phone without installing software on the target device, two methods exist. Both of these ways provide a lot of information about the person being monitored and do not require putting software on the target phone.

Directly Accessing iCloud

iCloud control panel

Many people don't know you can connect to iCloud accounts directly to monitor mobile devices. This method is not as easy to perform and data is more difficult to locate than simply using an app for spying on your children. But, with no free monitoring options out there now for iOS, this is a method of last resort for spying on a cell phone without installing software on the target phone.

This method can get the following:

  • Current Location
  • Contacts
  • iCloud Drive
  • E-Mail
  • Erase All Data
  • Photos

Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone is a built-in app that allows owners to monitor their activities and find their devices if they are misplaced or stolen. While it doesn't have advanced abilities like seeing files, it is still a good solution if you can work with just having basic information.


Do I need to jailbreak iPhone?

iPhones can only install Apple-approved apps from their store. This is why you have to jailbreak the target device to get unapproved apps installed. Many people have this done, but you should not have to jailbreak the target phone if you are not installing software. Each application we recommended in this article can provide some robust spy capabilities while not requiring jailbreaking.

Is it possible to spy on a cell phone for free without installing software?

No, there are no free applications being produced that allow you to spy without installing software on the target phone and it is unlikely anyone will create one. The reason for this is the technology needed to accomplish this is quite complex and no one is giving that away.

Beware of scammers claiming to know how you can spy on a cell phone for free without installing software, or for too little money to be believable.


As we have explained, spying on a phone without installing software is possible. However, these methods are somewhat limited because you are required to have the Google Account or Apple ID credentials of the device. Fortunately, much better options exist.

If you can't install an app, purchasing a new phone and downloading a monitoring app before presenting it as a gift works well. If you need to watch what your kids are doing on their smartphones, giving them a brand new iPhone or Android will just seem like a really nice gesture. Your gift also allows you to have an unlimited amount of time to get the needed software set up and thoroughly check that it is undetectable.

While you can spy on cell phones without installing software, it can actually be more difficult to accomplish than devising a way you can borrow it for long enough to install an app.

If it's absolutely not possible for you to access the device, consider purchasing a new phone as a gift for the individual. Before presenting it to the person, you can install an app without worrying about having time to ensure it works correctly.

Author Katya Seryabkina
About The Author
Katya Seryabkina
Ukrainian born, and a self-taught geek. I started hacking when I was 14 and can write code in 5 languages, but have no formal technical education. The edge of technology is what keeps me interested. I cover cell phone tracking, spy apps, cybersecurity, the dark web, and certain gadgets for The High Tech Society.