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How to Spy on a Cell Phone Without Installing Software

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There are three methods of spying on a cell phone without installing software on the target device.

  1. using a spy app
  2. using location tracking software
  3. using built-in apps

The first method involves using a cell phone spy app. Spy apps are software applications that record activity on a smartphone and store it so that it can be used by a spy app user. The only smartphones that can be spied on without installing software on the target device are those using the iOS operating system such as iPhones and iPads. Android devices require physical access and the installation of a spy app on the target device.

The second method of spying on a cell phone without installing software involves using location tracking software such as Geofinder.mobi or Location Tracker. These software apps track the GPS location of the targeted device using its’ phone number. This spying method is compatible with all cell phones including Android and iOS devices.

The third method of spying on a phone without software involves using native apps such as Google Maps, Apple “Find My”, and Google Find My Device. These apps track the GPS location of the targeted phone. This spying method works with Android and iOS-based devices.

Cell phone spying apps such as uMobix and Spybubble are the best solution for iPhones as they spy on the most information. Spying data includes text messages, social media networks such as Facebook and Instagram, website browsing history, GPS location, and phone call logs. Tracking software like Geofinder.mobi is best suited to those who only need to monitor the location of the targeted phone.

1. Use a Cell Phone Spy App

Phone spy apps are the best way to spy on someone’s phone without installing software on it. Spying apps are a type of smartphone spyware that monitors text messages, iMessages, chat conversations, social media activity, GPS location, browsing history, incoming and outgoing calls, and more.

Compared to the other two methods covered in this article, spy apps offer far more monitoring features.

The most popular uses for surveillance apps are:

  • for businesses to monitor their employees phone usage
  • parents to monitor the online activity of their kids.
  • loved ones who need to monitor their spouse or partner

Below you will find our favorite apps that don’t require installing software on the target device.

1. uMobix

Best for Social Media & Location Spying

umobix Android tracker product page

Quick Look

  • Fastest setup time – under 4 minutes
  • Monitors 6 Social Media & Chat Apps
  • Real-time Location Tracking
  • Monitor SMS & iMessages
  • Slightly more expensive than rival products

The uMobix phone monitoring app offers the most spy features, simple and fast installation, and operates in stealth mode. This is what we use to monitor our children.

uMobix can monitor an Apple device without installing any software on the target phone. It does require the iCloud username and password of the target user.

If you don’t have access to that information, you’ll need to install the app on the device itself. uMobix works with Androids too, but there is no way to remotely install uMobix on an Android device.

Why is uMobix Our Favorite?

uMobix spies on more social media apps than any other available. It gives you full access to the user’s Facebook and Instagram account. This includes scrolling their timeline, post interactions, and more. It also allows you to monitor social media messages from Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

uMobix offers LIVE, US-based customer service and support. It is compatible with any Android or iOS device.

uMobix Pricing Plans:

  • $12.59/month for 12 months
  • $29.99/month for 3 months
  • $49.99/month for 1 month

See our full review of the uMobix spying app for more information.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Try uMobix

Risks of Using Spying Apps

There are limited risks when using spying apps to monitor cell phones remotely. Because the software is not installed directly on the phone, there is no way for the target user to find it.

There are legal risks when spy apps are used inappropriately. It is legal to monitor the phones of your children or employees. But monitoring the phone of a partner or spouse requires their consent.

Limitations of Remote Spyware Apps

Spy apps that do not require installation do not offer as many features as locally installed spy software applications, but they still capture an impressive amount of information.

Below are a few of the limitations of remote spyware apps:

  • cannot spy on Snapchat, Tinder, LINE, Viber, Telegram, or Tik Tok.
  • no keylogger
  • no call recording

Before we continue, there is NO WAY to use a spy app on Android devices without installing software. You can track the device’s location, but that is all. Spying on Android phones requires downloading an app and modifying settings in the Android device manager.

2. SpyBubble

Solid Runner Up

Quick Look

  • Setup time – 5 minutes
  • Monitors 5 Social Media & Chat Apps (No Facebook Messenger)
  • Real-time Location Tracking
  • Monitor SMS & iMessages
  • Slightly more expensive than rival products

The SpyBubble app offers many of the same features as uMobix. The main difference is that it doesn’t offer the ability to monitor Facebook Messenger on iOS devices.

SpyBubble records text and iMessages, calendars, contacts, phone call logs, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Skype, and Tinder messages.

SpyBubble is compatible with all versions of the iOS operating system. The setup process requires no software installation. Simply enter the target users’s iCloud credentials, and the app will download their data to an online control panel.

SpyBubble costs $12.49 per month when you choose a one-year subscription plan. For more details visit our SpyBubble review article.

Try SpyBubble

3. mSpy

mSpy iPhone web page

Quick Look

  • Installation time – 6 minutes
  • Only Monitors 1 Chat App (WhatsApp)
  • Real-time Location Tracking
  • Monitor SMS messages & iMessages
  • Slightly less expensive than uMobix

mSpy is a spy app that can monitor any iOS device. It works without installing anything on the target iPhone and does not require jailbreaking.

mSpy has great name recognition, but it lacks some of the features of uMobix. mSpy monitors texts, WhatsApp chats, iMessages, web browser history, call logs, contacts, and calendar events.

It also records recent Wifi network connections, notes, and apps installed on the phone.

All data is sent to an online control panel that can be viewed from any computer or smartphone.

mSpy is compatible with all versions of the iOS operating system. For more in-depth information read our detailed analysis of mSpy.

My Rating: 4.5 ★★★★★

Try mSpy

How Can Spy Apps Spy on a Phone Without Software?

Spying apps can spy on iOS-based cell phones without installing software on the target phone. They do this by accessing backups stored in the iCloud account of the phone’s owner.

The iCloud method requires you to know the Apple ID and password of the target person. Before viewing the user’s phone data you will need to enter the target user’s credentials into your spy software account.

If 2-factor authentication is enabled, you will need to capture the verification code sent to the target phone.

Once this information is entered, the spy software downloads the latest phone backup from the iCloud account. The data stored in the phone backup can then be viewed through an online control panel.

Benefits of Spy Apps vs Location Trackers or Built-in Apps

Spyware apps monitor much more data than location tracking software or built-in apps.

Location tracking software can only monitor the GPS location of the target phone. It cannot spy on text messages, phone calls, emails, or other forms of communication.

Built-in apps are only capable of monitoring location information. These apps have an additional disadvantage because they send regular notifications to the owner of the device. This is done for privacy reasons.

2. Use Phone GPS Tracking Software

GPS tracking software can pinpoint the location of someone’s cell phone in the world. This type of software uses GPS signals and cell-phone tower triangulation to find a phone’s exact location. Once found, the phone’s location is displayed on a map.

Location tracking software requires only the phone number of the device you want to track. It does not require physical access or installing software on the target phone.

The disadvantage to this method is that it only displays the phone’s location. It does not include spying on texts, chats, social media networks, or phone calls.

Below you will find our top 2 location tracking apps.

1. Geofinder.mobi

Best Without Access to Target Phone

Quick Look

  • Setup time – 1 minute
  • Only monitors phone location

Geofinder.mobi is a cell phone location tracking app that works without access to the target Android. It is the only app on the list that can track an Android phone remotely.

It is compatible with Android and iOS devices. All you need to get started is the phone number of the target phone.

How to Use Geofinder to Spy on a Phone’s Location

Below are the steps to use Geofinder to spy on a phone’s location.

  1. Go to Geofinder.mobi
  2. Enter the number of the phone you wish to track
  3. Geofinder will attempt to locate the phone on it’s cellular network
  4. If successful, you will be prompted to create an account.
  5. Once your payment is made, you will be asked to send a text to the target phone.
  6. When the target user clicks the text, their exact location is displayed.

This spying software uses GPS triangulation to locate the exact location of the Android device. You can find more detailed information about this tracking app in our Geofinder review.

Try Geofinder.mobi

2. Localize.mobi

Localize.mobi is another solution for tracking someone’s phone without installing software. They offer a $1 trial to test out the service.

Localize can track a cell phone anywhere in the world. It is compatible with Android and iOS devices. As with Geofinder, it only displays the GPS location of the device.

Try Localize.mobi

3. Use Built-in Apps to Spy on a Phone

Using built-in apps is the third method of spying on a cell phone. The apps below function without the need of 3rd party software.

Both Android phones and iPhones come with pre-installed monitoring software. These apps are intended to help friends locate each other or to help someone locate a lost phone.

Built-in apps do not offer as many spying features as the surveillance software listed above, but they do have a couple advantages:

  • they are free
  • they can be used to see someone’s exact GPS location

Of course there are disadvantages as well. Disadvantages include:

  • limited features
  • user receives notifications of being monitored

Let’s look at the best apps to use on both Android phones and iPhones.

Google Maps (Android or iOS)

Google Maps is one of the most comprehensive map apps available. It works anywhere in the world. Google Maps is a powerful web mapping platform that offers satellite imagery, views of streets all over the world, and customized directions.

It is possible to monitor a phone’s location using Google maps by setting up location sharing on the target phone. This works on both iOS and Android-based devices.

This method requires access to the user’s Google account credentials. For step-by-step instructions, visit our guide on spying on someone’s location using Google Maps.

Once setup the target phone can be monitored from the Google Maps app of your phone or computer. Simply open the Google Maps app and the current location of the target phone will be displayed in real-time. You can also view location history on their Google Timeline.

Google Maps Location Sharing Notifications

By default, Google sends regular notifications to anyone who is sharing their location. This is done to protect the privacy of the user.

You can disable these notifications within the app on the target phone. Once disabled, the user no will no longer be notified that their location is shared.

Find My App (iOS)

Find My app icon

Apple’s Find My iPhone app allows users to locate a lost phone. It also allows you to share a phone’s location. This is a great way to monitor kids, employees, or a loved one.

Find My is compatible with Apple’s iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Find My allows you to do all of the following:

  1. share your location
  2. spy on a friend’s location
  3. setup location-based notifications

Location-based notifications alert you when someone has arrived at or left a specific location. They will also notify you if that person isn’t at a specific place during a specific time window.

Here are the instructions for setting up location sharing in the Find My app.

Final Thoughts

Our recommended method of spying on a phone without installing software is to use a spy app. These apps offer the most spying features. They are ideal for monitoring kids, employees, or anyone else.

The other options offer reliable location tracking, but no other information about the user’s activities. If you require a free option, Find My and Google Maps are reasonably good solutions. Just make sure to disable notifications if you need to monitor the person discretely.

About the Author

Jason has over 25 years in the information and internet security industry. He is passionate about smartphones, gadgets, and technology. He also got a solid background in programming and software.  This includes Python, C++, app development and more.

jason thompson