The Ultimate Cell Phone Spy Software Guide

I've put together this Guide to tie in all the information you can find in this website about cell phone spy software. It covers a lot of information and leads you to more detailed sections if you follow the links - by the end you will have a pretty good understanding of how this type of mobile monitoring works. Everything you need, in one place!

What Kind of Spy Software?

I know, lots of different terms and lots of different names - it gets confusing! This section of the website covers cell phone spy programs - used to monitor mobile phones and devices such as tablets and iPads.

Also called mobile monitoring and spy phone software - you get the idea.

I have a section all about monitoring PC's and Laptop computers - if that's what you are looking for.

The main programs are covered and reviewed here on Reflex Software :


Right now, the most advanced phone monitoring service available. With their Live Call listening and recording features - for Android and iPhone - they stand out from the rest. New pricing has made them much more competitive. 

Full Review of FlexiSpy Monitoring


High quality service with lots of monitoring options - covering a wide range of Social and Chat services. Cheaper than Flexispy - they are the best selling software right now.

Full Review of mSpy here.


An older program that has had a total makeover - fast becoming very popular. They have added to the advanced type features and offer a real alternative to the other two. Definitely worth looking at.

Full Review of MobiStealth for Mobiles

These programs have one thing in common - they work. I use these products and test anything I write a review about. I also continue to monitor how they are performing and update my reviews accordingly.

I don't "push" any single phone spy program - they all have different features and I encourage you to chose the best spy software for your needs.

You'll also find some reviews of less desirable spy apps - which I Do Not recommend!

There are a lot of different programs - good and bad, which is partly why I developed this site - to help you avoid getting ripped off by some of the crappy programs and the out and out scams!

It really is a bit of a minefield - I have a guide about Finding the Best Cell Phone Spy Software.

cell phone spy software guide

Is This Actually Legal?

It is perfectly legal to sell, buy and use this type of program - with certain important conditions. Don't believe some of the shady marketing hype of less reputable sellers. You cannot legally just put this on anyone's phone - you can't spy on your spouse - wife / husband or A N other - despite how it is sometimes advertised.

I have a detailed Legal Guide here - the short version follows:

  • You can monitor your kid's phones and devices - if they are under 18 (in the US and UK)
  • You can monitor company cell phones and devices (owned by the company) as long as you notify any user of that phone.
  • ​To install the software legally, you must own and have legal authority over that phone (pay the bill!) and you must notify any adult using the phone/ device.

Simple enough really, although check the legal details around privacy laws where you live to be safe.

Of course, we live in this world and not everyone plays it straight. The use of mobile spy apps is growing fast and I suspect that a vast majority of people are using this in illegal ways. What can be a very useful tool for parents and employers can also be an intrusion of privacy - in the wrong hands.

Check my Online Security section for related information about being a victim of spy software. Lots of stuff about finding it and removing it - being aware of it is a first step.

Now you should know the legal position of this software and please do not ask me questions relating to the illegal use of the programs - I will not print them or respond. This is a clean site!

What Type of Phone or Device Can Be Monitored?

The first thing to understand is that this type of software only works on phones and Tablets that can connect to the internet. All reporting and logging needs an internet connection of some sort to take place. It will work with a Wi-Fi connection or a data plan.

It works with all carriers and in Any Country - as long as there is an active internet connection. Distance doesn't matter (after installation) - you can monitor a device in a different country - as long as there is an internet connection.

All of the cell phone spy programs will work on Android devices and Apple Devices running iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch) Some also cover BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows phones. Android and Apple devices have the biggest feature list as these are the most popular types of device today.

Operating System Compatibility

tablet spy software

This sometimes confuses people. For the software to work, the operating system version of the Target device must be supported.

The companies work well at keeping up with the latest versions of Android and iOS (Apple). When a new iOS is released, the spy software will usually be compatible in a few weeks.

The spy products all list phones and operating systems supported - and my reviews are constantly updated to show the latest changes. Just check before you buy - Easy really!

Do I Need Physical Access to Install Spy Software?

Yes, Yes, Yes

This question comes up a lot. This type of software must be physically downloaded onto the Target device - the one you want to monitor. You need it in your possession and you need to be able to connect to the internet and download and install the software on the device itself. It takes as little as five minutes to set up.

Once installed, everything can be controlled and monitored remotely via your online dashboard.

For the record - you can't spy on someone's phone using spy software - just by having their number!

It gets confusing because there are loads of scams around - sites claiming that you don't need access to the phone you want to spy on - so called Remote Install Spy Software - read my article all about these scams!

One Exception - iCloud Monitoring

This is a fairly recent addition and only available from a couple of services - mSpy being the most reliable. It works in a completely different way to "regular" spy software - only available for iPhones and iPads.

It is not software - no software is installed on the target device - and Jailbreaking is not required. Instead it uses the free Apple backup solution - iCloud - and reports on the changes between backups.

It gives a limited form of monitoring - nowhere near the capabilities of the regular spy products. But better than nothing for some people - especially if Jailbreaking is not an option.

This form of monitoring does not require physical access to the target device - as long as you have the User's Apple ID and password - and assuming that iCloud backups are set to run. You can read more about this on my main mSpy Review.

What About Rooting and Jailbreaking - I Haven't a Clue!

We are not all Tech Geeks - I get that. I have detailed guides about Rooting Android and Jailbreaking your iPhone - check them out for more details.

Rooting Android

Rooting relates to modifying the Android operating system (using simple free software widely available). It gives the spy apps added access to the data in the phone (Root access).

Rooting is Not absolutely necessary to install monitoring software but without it, some of the advanced features will not work. Things like spying on chat messengers - WhatsApp etc. Call recording is another feature that requires Root access.

I highly recommend that you Root the Android target device to benefit from all of the features - but if is not possible, you can still monitor many activities on the device.

Jailbreaking - iPhone, iPad etc.

Jailbreaking - refers only to Apple Devices - iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch etc. Jailbreaking is Required to install regular spy software on any Apple device.

The Apple operating system is designed to only allow downloading of Apple approved software apps - if you don't Jailbreak - you can't use regular monitoring software.

Rooting and Jailbreaking have become pretty mainstream - many people do this to improve the functionality and freedom of their devices - but many people are also wary of attempting anything remotely techy. I have some detailed guides for both - and the good news is that the better spy companies are now offering Tech support for this.

Flexispy have a service that will Jailbreak or Root - and install their software - for a reasonable fee - which is proving to be very popular.

Both Jailbreaking and Rooting are really quite straight forward - don't be afraid of giving them a go and remember, they are both easily removed at any time by simply updating the operating system. Remember to check my Guides for more details!

What Can a Spy Phone Do?

Most people are shocked when they first find out what level of monitoring can be achieved using spy phone apps. They think it is often too far fetched - it is extremely powerful.

The early versions of the best programs offered a limited service covering things like all text messages sent and received, call logs - numbers called, numbers calling and duration, basic GPS data - where the phone was during certain times.

Well, things have moved fast and these programs now capture nearly everything that happens on the device.

Each program will have a slightly different range of features and I cover them in each of the Reviews (so check them out - I think they are good!). Here are a few of the advanced type features available:

Live Call Listening and Recording - yes, you can record or listen to actual calls being made without the user knowing. Only available with Flexispy Extreme.

Ambient Recording - you can use the target phone like a room bug. You can send a secret message to start the phone's microphone and record what is being said in the immediate surroundings.

GPS Tracking - this part is getting really advanced. You can locate the device in real time on a map - anywhere in the world. You can get reports of the daily movements of the device - and set limits, when a message will be sent to you if the phone leaves a certain pre-defined area. Great feature for keeping kids safe and knowing where they go after school!

Web Browsing Reports - will report all internet use of the device, listing sites visited and even allowing you to block certain websites and programs if you chose.

View Phone Data - things like contacts lists, calendars, all media stored on the phone - everything can be reported and you get to see everything.

App Blocking - you can block apps from being used on the target device - all done from the online control panel (more on that later).

Spy Web Chats and Messenger Services - so many people are now using different apps to communicate online - the spy programs cover most of the main services from WhatsApp, Viber, Skype to Facebook and Twitter. You can view messages, images, videos and even record live calls (Flexispy new feature).

The list of features goes on, these are just what I consider the more advanced ones - to give you an idea of what is possible. Each program will cover all of the basic features but then they differ in the special features. Some are well suited to giving better parental controls and others may suit the business user.

How Does it All Work?

Ah ... the magic of Technology! I'll try to explain the basics of how spy software works - without getting too deep and meaningful.

When you have decided which program you need - the one that best matches what you need to monitor at the best price - and matches your Target device (I hope you have been paying attention).

Detailed installation guide here - or keep reading for the quick version!

  • You make your purchase and will receive download details - a web link and license code.
  • You enter the link in the target phone - download and install following the instructions. They all work in a similar way and are easy to follow.
  • ​The software starts to record the data and activities on the target device - hidden in the background.
  • ​This recorded data is sent in very small, hidden data packets to the spy company servers (website backend). No obvious increase in phone data records as the packets are very small.
  • ​You log in to your secure Online Dashboard (details provided with purchase). You can do this over any internet connection - from any device.

The Online Dashboard

The Online Dashboard is where all of the reporting takes place - here you can view (and download) all monitored activity - reading the texts, listening to calls, viewing web activity etc.

The Dashboard also acts as your control panel - where you can change settings, update the software, block websites and apps and set alerts - total control depending on the program you have bought.

After the initial installation you don't need to have access to the target device again - everything can be controlled from the Dashboard.

You can even uninstall the software and all traces of it when you are finished using it - without having the target phone again.

The best programs go to great lengths to make sure that the spy program remains completely hidden - no Icons, warnings, obvious file names - hidden from running processes and disguised from Anti Spy apps.

Very clever stuff - and extremely powerful.

Who Is Using This Stuff?

More people than you would imagine - mSpy claim to have over 1 million users!

spy phone guide

These programs are ideal for parents monitoring their children's cell phone and online use - we are all aware of the dangers our kids are exposed to, in ways that didn't exist when we were growing up.

Employee monitoring is also on the rise. Companies, large and small are aware of how much time and money is being lost with staff using company devices - to surf the web and check Facebook. Many are starting to make huge savings simply by monitoring the phones!

Then of course we get to the unethical use of cell phone spy software. As awareness of this technology has grown, so too has it's illegal use. You can't just spy on anyone you feel like - already, legal cases are booming - and more people will be caught in the future for illegal use of this type of software.

Stay Legal please.

Spy Phone Scams to Watch Out For

Unfortunately this market seems to have an unusually high number of scam operations. The anonymity of the web, and companies being based overseas only helps these scams to avoid legal consequences. They are all digital downloads after all.

The scams vary - from poor quality software that doesn't work well to claims of features that don't exist - and in some cases the software doesn't exist, you make a payment and nothing is delivered!

You really need to do your homework before buying anything. If something sounds too good to be true - it probably is!

I have some guides to help - about Buying Spy Software Safely and then my old favorite - The Great Remote Install Spy Software Scam. Make sure you read them before taking the plunge on some random software.

Another useful article to read is - Problems With Mobile Spy Software. Great if something isn't working as you expect.


I hope this guide has helped you in some way - it is always a work in progress. Have a good look around the site for more information and feel free to reach out with any questions - use the comments or the Contact Page - I do respond as long as you keep it legal!

Thanks for reading - and share it with a friend please!

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