Spy apps don’t always sound like a good thing on your Android phone. However, there are a few good reasons to download one. For example, kids may not always know the safest ways to use their new phones. Of course, you should always be transparent with your kids — or anyone else you’re tracking — before you start spying on them. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re in line with any local laws about spying. Once you’ve squared that away, check out our list of the best spy apps for Android.
The best spy apps for Android
Price: $11.66 with an annual subscription
mSpy is an app built around the idea that knowing is always better than hoping. Loaded with features, it gives you a clear picture of the user’s digital world. With advanced GPS tracking, you’ll know where they are at all times. With detailed call monitoring, you’ll know who they’re calling and who’s calling them. And with social media monitoring — including Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Snapchat — you’ll know what they’re saying and who they’re saying it to. Just install mSpy on a target device and you’ll have advanced spying metrics at your fingertips, plus all the insight you need to make informed decisions.
Price: Free / $5-$43 per year
Cerberus is a phone tracker app for personal use. That’s right — it keeps an eye on your phone, rather than someone else’s.
It helps you find a lost or stolen smartphone and it has a bunch of additional features. They include taking photos of the potential thief, SMS commands, finding the phone on a map, and you can lock and wipe your data. It won’t help you track other people’s devices, but you can totally spy on whoever stole yours. The subscription service starts at a very reasonable $5 per year for a single device and scales up from there.
FlexiSpy is one of a few more powerful spy apps on Android. Of course, that means you have to be extra careful with its impressive features. It lets you do the kinds of things people might be afraid of, including turning on the microphone to listen to a device’s surroundings, monitoring chat apps, remote camera capture, keylogging, and the ability to completely hide itself from antivirus apps and the app drawer. The price is way up there and you can’t get this app in the Play Store, but it has a ton of features.
Google Family Link
Google Family Link is an app for parents to keep track of kids through their Google account. The app lets you view activity on the child’s device, manage apps, and even recommend apps. You can also set device limits and lock the device if necessary.
Family Link did replace an older Google service, so not all features were perfect at launch. Some people ran into connectivity issues and bugs, but by and large, the experience should work fine for most people. Best of all, it’s a completely free option for you to try.
Google’s Find My Device app is probably the best lost or stolen phone app for Android. You can quickly see your phone or other Google accessories on a map for their exact location. Additionally, you can wipe the phone, ring it, or secure (lock) the device at will. However, ou can’t take pictures or anything like you can with Cerberus. Overall, it’s a straightforward and simple method for keeping track of where your phone is at all times.
Prey Anti Theft is another find-my-device style app. This one is entirely free and has some decent features. They include the usual array of find-my-phone features like GPS tracking, phone locking, and sending alarms through the phone. However, Prey can also take pictures with the camera, identify nearby Wi-Fi hotspots, and keep track of things like the device’s MAC address. That’s not a bad set of features when you’re getting them for free.
Price: $89 per month
Spyera is one of the most intense spy apps for Android. It boasts simple features for people like parents. However, we can’t imagine a use case where something this intense is necessary outside of enterprise use. It has a bunch of features, including the ability to hide itself from basically everywhere. It also comes with remote control support, SMS spoofing, and all kinds of other admittedly shady behavior. It’s extremely expensive so we don’t recommend this to normal folks. It’s also not available on Google Play so you have to obtain and sideload the app from its official website.
Carrier family locator apps
Carrier Family Locators are family location services by mobile carriers like T-Mobile, Verizon, and others. These services work about as expected. You can keep track of the phone location of any phone on your plan. They usually feature things like on-demand location, alerts of various types, and it works on most devices. We have T-Mobile’s linked up here, but you can search the Play Store or call your carrier to see if they have a similar service.
OEM Find My Phone
Several phone manufacturers have phone-finding services as part of their software experience. One notable example is Samsung. You log in with your Samsung account and you can find your device with its service. It runs parallel with Google’s Find My Device for a potent one-two punch. You can lock (or unlock) your phone, find it on a map, and there are other features as well. It’s worth looking to see if your phone has something like this.
Price: Free / $59.99-$89.99 per year
XNSPY is a bit of a weird case. It has all of those frightening features like monitoring call logs, GPS tracking, monitoring web browsing, access chats, and all kinds of other tracking stuff. However, it’s more affordable than most of its bigger competitors like FlexiSpy and Spyera. The basic version lets you look at some stuff while the premium version lets you look at everything. This is a good option for businesses or families with some money to spend, but families may want to try Google Family Link or Kiddie Parental Controls before something more powerful like this.
How to check for and remove spy apps
Of course, some of these apps may be on your device without your knowledge and you may want to find out. Unfortunately, with how well these hide, a lot of the usual methods don’t work very well. However, there are a few ways to see if something may be spying on you.
- The app GlassWire lets you monitor data on your device. You can easily see when a spy app sends data back to its host. We recommend this first because spy apps can hide from task managers and antivirus apps, but they can’t hide their own data usage.
- Some antivirus apps may still detect the app if the host didn’t hide it well enough. You can check out our list of the best ones here.
- You can find uninstall guides for most big spy apps. For instance, here’s one for FlexiSpy, and here’s one for mSpy.
- As a temporary solution, you can put the phone in Airplane Mode. Spy apps rely on the ability to send data back to the host and they can’t if you’re not connected to any networks.
- If all else fails, you can factory reset the phone. That should wipe out every app aside from the ones pre-installed by the OEM.
If we missed any good spy apps for Android, tell us about them in the comments! You can also click here to check out our latest Android app and game lists.
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