Robust cell phone monitoring software may have been only available to government agencies and police forces in the past, but there are now many solutions available to the public. Individuals and companies of all sizes can use "spy" software to do everything from tracking a cell phone's location to keeping a live log of all text messages sent and received from the monitored mobile phone.
Five Popular Cell Phone Surveillance Options
For the right purposes and with the right permission, though, these apps can be positively invaluable.
Designed both for parents who want to watch their children, and businesses who want to monitor their employees, Mobistealth offers a comprehensive solution to monitor almost all mobile phone activity. Monitoring is performed through an online portal on the Mobistealth website, providing access to the account from just about anywhere in the world. All smartphone platforms are supported.
Mobistealth offers a powerful feature set with real-time tracking.
- Logs all calls, text messages, videos and pictures sent and received
- Maintains a complete list of all websites visited
- Provides real-time location tracking and history
- Allows you to activate remote sound recording
- Notifies of any SIM card changes
- Shows details of all applications installed on the device
- Wipes all personal information remotely in case of theft or loss
Apps Mojo likes the 24/7 surveillance that Mobistealth provides, recording every single activity on the phone in stealth mode. It also likes the "excellent customer support." These positive reviews are also echoed on Toptenreviews.com and AcisNi.com where Mobistealth is among their favorite cell phone monitoring software applications.
There are two main premium plans available for each of the iPhone and Android platforms. The higher end plan is needed to unlock such features as Viber chat logging and call recording.
- iPhone Premium Plan - $33.33 per month, $99.99 for three months and $149.99 for a year
- iPhone Premium Plus plan - $40 per month, $119.99 for three months and $179.99 for a year
- Android Pro plan - $16.66 a month, $49.99 for three months, $79.99 for six months and $119.99 for a year
- Android Pro-X plan - $26.66 a month, 79.99 for three months, $129.99 for six months and $179.99 for a year
Featured in such publications as USA Today, The New York Times and Reader's Digest, Mobile Spy is a smartphone monitoring software package that silently tracks and records a vast array of activity on the device. The robust feature set is geared toward both parents and employers who want to record everything that is happening on a phone. This includes a large amount of live data accessible through the online portal. Mobile Spy is compatible with Android, iPhone and BlackBerry phones.
Many of the features of this cell phone tracking solution are geared toward monitoring social media and online usage.
- Logs complete call, email and Gmail history and more
- Shows notes, memos and contact information
- Monitors live device data, including whether the WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS are on, current battery level, signal strength and storage capacity available
- Tracks Facebook and Twitter messages
- Logs all websites visited, YouTube videos watched, online searches performed and bookmarks saved
- Maintains a full media log with all photos and videos recorded on the device
- Blocks applications from running and can provide alerts for profanity, contact, and so on
- Using the live panel with the premium package lets you take live screenshots of the current phone display, listen to audio recordings and use GPS tracking
Reviews of Mobile Spy
TopTenReviews gives Mobile Spy its Silver award saying it "offers extremely extensive surveillance and reporting, and it gives you ample capacity to set limits and create alerts."
A few years ago, Mobile Spy changed some policies, removed some features and added device notifications and a tamper-proof icon to let the user know that they are being monitored. This caused some controversy and resulted in some bad reviews. Both SpyzRus and AcisNI made notes on former glowing reviews that they no longer recommended the software because it couldn't be hidden. Mobile Spy has since enabled innovative new features and added the option to turn off notifications and remove the icon from a child's phone for more discrete monitoring, placing it once again at the top of most cellphone monitoring favorite lists.
The pricing model consists of two main tiers, both of which offering discounts when you pay for a longer period in advance
- Basic - $49.99 for three months, $69.97 for six months and $99.97 for a year
- Premium - $64.97 for three months, $89.97 for six months and $139.97 for a year
Although mSpy has only been in business since 2011, it has become a leader in monitoring solutions by listening to the needs of its end users. Once thought too expensive for family monitoring, it presented a new family kit option with special pricing. This software is compatible with Android and iOS cell phones.
Primary Feature Set
The remote management features of mSpy really set it apart from the competition.
- Tracks GPS location of the phone
- Monitors internet use including the ability to block websites and provide keyword alerts
- Accesses calendar and address book
- Shows all installed applications and lets you monitor or block accordingly
- Views all photos and videos taken or stored on the device
- Remotely view, block and manage every function on the device from the control panel
- Generate reports according to different customized data
- Alerts when the software is uninstalled or damaged
Read Text Messages named mSpy its top pick, saying the application is a "great choice" with "both a home and business option." While some instant message platform monitoring only works with Android and others with only iPhones, the overall verdict is very positive with a 9 out of 10 ranking.
Describing mSpy as "the most powerful and user-friendly mobile spy application," TopTrackingapps.com prefers the mSpy program because of its different options for family and professional use, its immediate results and simple control panel.
Package Pricing Plans
In addition to its two main levels of service, mSpy also has a mobile family kit with added savings for multiple subscriptions.
- Basic package - $29.99 per month, $59.99 for 3 months and $99.99 for a year
- Premium and No-jailbreak packages - $69.99 per month, $119.99 for 3 months and $199.99 for a year
- Mobile Family Kit - Includes three Premium subscriptions at 20% savings for $359.97 per 6 months and $ 479.97 for a year
Silently monitoring all communications, locations and user behavior of a smartphone, FlexiSPY has gained in popularity in the last few years. Claiming to have over 150 features and monitoring available from any web browser, FlexiSPY is useful for monitoring both employees and children. This software is compatible with Android, iPhone, Nokia and Blackberry.
Powerful Monitoring Software
This mobile monitoring solution empowers users to "know everything that happens on a computer or smartphone, no matter where you are."
- Listens to and records calls, call logs and phone surroundings
- Reads SMS, MMS and email messages, including most popular chat platforms
- Deletes SMS messages that contain specific keywords
- Tracks the device with the GPS locator
- Views address book, calendar, notes and installed programs and their activity
- Alerts when the SIM card is changed or specific contacts are approached
- Accesses web pages viewed and bookmarks made
- Includes the use of its free mobile app to read FlexiSPY data on the move
Cell Phone Tracker Review recommends FlexiSPY as the best application for monitoring iPhones and iPads saying, "There is no activity that will be left undetected, and that is what makes this software a top choice among its competitors."
In its review of FlexiSPY, Top10spysoftware.com likes that it is easy to download and operate. It describes the price as high, but acknowledges that "taking into account that FlexiSPY offers such powerful features as live call interception and recording - it might be worth it; some users definitely choose this product because of this capacity only."
The premium plan is geared toward all-around monitoring, whereas the extreme plan adds monitoring and recording of all audio streams, among other "discovery tools."
- Premium - $68 per month, $99 for three months and $149 for a year
- Extreme - $199 for three months and $349 for a year
Available for both iPhone and Android devices, Highster Mobile consistently pops up as a favorite on surveillance software lists, more commonly cited as being best for Android phones. This software is compatible with all Android and Apple devices and, although having more basic features than that of mSpy or FlexiSPY, its biggest attraction is that you pay a one time fee with free lifetime upgrades.
Features and Functions
Users will find the majority of core cell phone monitoring features with this package.
- Tracks calls, photos and videos
- Monitors emails, browser history and social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Skype
- Shows GPS location on a Google Map
- Monitors all installed and running applications and can block when necessary
- Provides search alerts when a predesignated search term is searched on the device
- Remotely locks the phone and uninstalls software
- Takes pictures remotely
Highster Mobile Expert Reviews
Finding the installation easy and straightforward, Cell Phone Tracker Review rated Highster Mobile as number one for Android. They like that you don't need to root the device and applaud the affordability. "For the price and features offered, Highster Mobile definitely gives you the best value for your money."
Jack Gillman, who has been in the spy software industry for over 7 years and has tried and tested hundreds of different cell phone spy programs, rates Highster Mobile as number two in his Best Phone Spy Reviews. He describes it as "the best spy software for Android, just download and install it onto the phone you want to spy on, activate it with your license key and you're ready to go." He finds it very simple to use and one of the most affordable spy applications that he tested.
The Simplest Pricing Model
Whereas all the other spy software solutions on this list utilize a monthly subscription model, Highster Mobile is sold as a one-time purchase.
- A one-time fee of $69.99 with free lifetime upgrades
- An extended download warranty and premium support package are also available for $29.99 each.
Be Mindful of Privacy Laws
The functionality and usefulness of cell phone monitoring applications are undeniable, but they do come with significant caveats. Consider any invasion of privacy laws in your jurisdiction, particularly when it comes to installing spying software on the phones of friends, colleagues, significant others or complete strangers without their consent.