How To Spy On Cellphones

by | Spy Gear

Last Updated on February 10, 2021

With recent technological advancements, we’re noticing a trend of infinite possibilities in a lot of areas. You can use technology for almost anything, and spying or tracking a cell phone is one of them. If you’re reading this, chances are you have a reason to track a certain person’s phone.

Now, we won’t be getting into the morality of spying someone’s cell phone. While most would immediately think of malicious intent, there are actually very valid reasons to spy on cellphones – sometimes even your own.

So, how to spy on cellphones? There’s a host of options, usually software solutions, and not all of them work in an identical manner. However, there are different options for different needs, so before we go into the options, let’s take a look at the reasons why you’d want to spy on a certain cellphone.


Why would you want to know how to spy on cellphones?

As mentioned earlier, we won’t discuss the morality of each of the reasons. If you’ve decided you do need to spy on a cellphone, chances are you don’t worry about that too much, or there’s nothing to worry about.

The most common need for spying on a cellphone is a jealous spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend. There are often situations when you suspect something is going on, but you just can’t see whether you’re right, or not. While some resort to a private detective, or tapping their landline phone, both solutions are often pricey and you will want to avoid them. A good cellphone spying software can help you here, and it’ll definitely save you a bit of money. You’ll usually get access to messages and calls, and often you’ll be able to see other chat software, too.

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The second most common reason why you’d need to spy on a cellphone is keeping track of your children. You don’t have to tell them you’ve got spying software on their phone, and it’s easy to hide. Whether you tell them, or not, is up to you. If you believe they’re hiding something from you, or you just want to know where they are at any given time for their own good, this could be a good way to achieve that. This is a great way of figuring out why your kid has been coming home from school late, or if they’re really having a sleepover at a friend.

Next in line we’ve got business owners, and monitoring a company issued smartphone is actually a great idea. While it may not be easy, or even a smart decision, to monitor your employees’ private phones, if they’ve got company-issued smartphones, using a spying software on those phones can be very beneficial. Do you find your deliveries are late? You can see where your delivery guy has been spending the time he should’ve spent making the delivery. You find that certain employees are less productive than they should be? You can easily see whether they’re working, or they’re on their phones, liking their new girlfriend’s latest profile picture. You can even go as far as seeing whether your staff is on time at work, and whether they’re at the office where they should be during working hours. And make no mistake, this is actually very common practice.

Last but not least, you can protect your own phone with spying software. The main job of such software is to be able to know where the phone is, and what’s going on with it. Some more advanced options will even let you lock it, or even completely wipe it, remotely. Therefore, if your phone gets stolen or you lose it, you can access the software via your computer and find where your phone is, as well as what’s happening with it.

Now that we’ve got the reasons out of the way, let’s see the methods. We’ll discuss a few options, but which one you go for will ultimately depend on your specific use case and preferences.

So, how to spy on cellphones?

Just one more thing before we get into the apps themselves. When you really need to check on someone’s phone, having an app malfunction is the worst that can happen. Therefore, by all means avoid getting an app that doesn’t offer free support. Even if you do need to pay upfront for the app, do so, it’s more than worth it to know that you’ll be able to get support whenever you need it, even in a pinch.

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The first thing you’ll need to take care of is actually getting the software on the phone you’re trying to monitor. If that’s another person’s phone, it’s much easier if they live in the same house as you (i.e. spouse, kids). Just grab their phone when they’re in the shower or if they forget it at home some day, and you’ll be able to set it up without their knowledge. In any case, you will need a few minutes with the phone in order to download the software and set it up, so make sure you have them. If it’s your own phone, no explanation is necessary, it’s easy enough. And last but not least, if you’re going to be giving phones to your staff, make sure you install the spying software before you give your employees the phones themselves. Yes, you could ask them to leave them with you for a day, but that’s going to raise suspicions amongst them and if you’re a business owner, that’s not something you want. With that out of the way, let’s see your options.

Auto Forward Spy

usually the software that you’ll come across, and with good reason. They’ve been around for over 8 years, and the app gives you plenty of functionality. To begin with, it’s really easy to set up and use, and it gives you access to texts, calls, as well as the GPS location, all in a matter of minutes. You can even access deleted texts, as well as information from popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. It’s also available on Android, iPhone and iPad, so you can pretty much install it on any device you want. What makes it really god is that you don’t have to have the target phone in order to get the information you need. The software gets the information remotely, and then sends it to your account. You can then access that account via your own phone or tablet, or via a computer. To add to that, it only takes a couple of minutes to download and set up, making it incredibly easy.

Highster Mobile

Next on our list, and is a very close runner up. They’ve been around even longer than Auto Forward Spy, since 2007, and they’re one of the pioneers of the technology. It works on Android and iOS, and it covers all the basics such as call logs, messages, instant messaging services, emails and GPS. Where it excels, though, is in the ability to take pictures and videos using the target phone’s camera, as well as the ability to view the calendar and browsing history. And while many would shrug at the somewhat high-ish price, note that this is a one time fee and you get all the features, plus the support, for life. It’s actually much cheaper, especially when you compare it to a monthly subscription package which can cost quite a bit in the long run. If you do need the camera feature, Highster Mobile is the best option for you.

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Our third recommendation, and is also one to check out. It’s got a fairly comprehensive feature set, the pricing is pretty competitive, and you get 24/7 customer support, a combination that’s definitely worth considering. In terms of features, you do get the standard feature set – monitoring calls, messages, instant messaging applications and all multimedia sent via those apps, as well as GPS tracking which includes geofencing. However, you also get email and browser monitoring, as well as audio recordings for the surroundings and remotely controlling the phone in question. You can even go as far as using a keylogger and monitoring the Wi-Fi logs, as well as monitoring WhatsApp without the target phone being rooted. It’s compatible with Android and both jailbroken and non-jailbroken iOS. A downside compared to the first two picks is that even though it’s fairly cheap, XNSPY is still a subscription based piece of software. There is a basic and premium edition, and you also get a single device for every license you purchase. It is, however, the most comprehensive method of spying on cellphones, and for many it will be more than worth the price.


What about figuring out whether someone is spying on your phone?

We did discuss the reasons why, and the methods of spying on someone’s phone. But what if that someone is you, and someone else is spying on your phone? There are ways to figure this out, so let’s take a short look at how you can see if your phone is being monitored.

  • Your data usage is too high. Spy software needs a way to communicate with whoever installed it, and that’s through using your data. Lower quality software eats up a lot of data, and when you look at your monthly usage, you won’t be able to find it.
  • You hear strange sounds during a phone call. Today’s cell phone networks tend to have strong signal, and a pretty stable connection. Therefore, if you’re hearing voices somewhere in the distance, or you’re hearing odd clicking sounds, it might be the case that your phone call is being recorded.
  • Your phone is acting strange when in standby mode. If your phone is in standby, it shouldn’t be making noises or sounds unless there’s a notification, and the screen shouldn’t be lighting up. If this happens, it might be that a background app you didn’t approve is causing the issues.
  • You get random reboots. Phones have come a long way, and they don’t reboot randomly unless there’s something seriously wrong with them. If this is the case, someone may have unauthorized access to your phone, and rebooting it isn’t the only thing they can do. Malicious or bad apps are the number one reason for random reboots, so be careful. 
  • Your phone feels significantly slower. Phones come with a certain amount of RAM, and their operating speed is somewhat limited. If you feel your phone suddenly started to slow down, a new piece of software might be running in the background, and that could very well be a spy software.
  • Your battery doesn’t last as long as you know it should. Just like with speed, additional apps in the background use up battery life as well. If you find your battery life is much worse than it should be, a spying software could be using it without your knowledge.
  • Shutting down your phone is much longer, or more difficult. Similarly to a computer, your phone needs to close any running processes before it can shut down. If it takes a lot of time to do so, or it’s having problems, it might be an unauthorized piece of software that’s causing the issues.

While these are far from the only ways of identifying that there’s some kind of spying software installed on your phone, they are definitely a good pointer that you should be more careful, or maybe that you should check your phone for such software.


Wrapping things up

When you take everything into consideration, knowing how to spy on cellphones can actually come in handy in a variety of situations. Whether you’re checking in on your employees, or your children, or even your spouse, or you just want to know that you can recover your phone easily in case something happens, having spy software installed can come in handy.

While there’s a host of options available out there, we hope to have given you a good roundup of the top three cellphone spying pieces of software. Whichever one you go for, you can’t go wrong, so pick the one that’s best suited to your needs and budget and you’re good to go!


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About Gadgets Spy

Hi, I’m Michael, a security and surveillance expert. I co-founded and write for GadetsSpy and help teach people about new tech and Gadgets.