The phone spy app market is literally overflowing with dozens of products offering basically the SAME capabilities. As a consumer it can be difficult and frustrating trying to figure out which one is actually the best for your needs.
In an attempt to wade through the BS, I tested well over ten different cell phone spyware apps. In this post I’m going to review mSpy; our pick for the best overall spy app on the market.
While this app isn’t perfect (read my frustrations below), it delivers all of the functionality I require while also offering consistently reliable operation and solid technical support.
This mSpy review will describe the features of the software and will explain why it could be answer to your own phone monitoring needs.
My mSpy App Review
- First class customer support
- Jailbreak and Non-Jailbreak versions
- Installation without physical access to device
- Only works with iOS & Android
- Jailbreak required for “full” functionality
There are any number of reasons why you might need to monitor someone elses phone. In our particular case it was because our daughter reached an age at which boys would be messaging her and we wanted to make sure things stayed appropriate.
Regardless of who you want to keep tabs on, you’ll need some sort of spy app to accomplish it.
Before You Buy
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there were certain frutstrations I had with this app during the installation. Since I wanted the full version I had to first jailbreak the phone.
This process is a bit complicated if you’re not technologically savvy. After a couple frustrating hours I decided to pay a little extra to have one of their tech support people handle this for me.
Once I handed it over to them installation and setup was a snap. They literally do everything for you.
mSpy may be useful if you are concerned about your child’s safety, want to help him or her maintain healthy interactions, and want to help your son or daughter avoid relationships that have a negative influence.
With this app you can inconspicuously track your child’s phone use and log the information so that you can review it and take necessary precautions.
If you need to monitor your child in this manner, either because of a concern about cell phone use or because you are not always physically present to provide monitoring, spyware is a great solution.
Parents who wish to allow their child to be independent but who also want him or her to be safe might find that mSpy is an ideal solution.
Is mSpy Right for You?
- Do you want to monitor a phone without the owner’s knowledge?
- D you have physical access to the target device?
- Does the device you will be monitoring use an operating system other than Android or iOS?
Leaving the mSpy icon on the desktop may be a work-around for the first concern above. It is also possible to install it on an iOS device to which you do not have physical access but doing so will result in a restricted set of monitoring options. Sometimes it makes more sense to install a different software application, so I will discuss two alternatives in a later section.
Overview of mSpy
mSpy is optimized for mobile devices and offers distinct advantages:
- You can discretely monitor usage of the phone;
- Parents can block incoming calls, specific websites and applications;
- Recent versions of mSpy ensure longer battery life for the device;
- The latest updates feature geo-fencing and keystroke logging.
I could have really used this information when my niece was victimized by school bullies, using it to help her develop healthier connections and to protect her from further abuse.
Features of the mSpy App
Even with all these amazing features, it is important to note that not all devices perform equally well with mSpy. The disadvantages include:
- The app can be installed remotely only on no jail break devices and you will need to have an Apple ID and enable iCloud backup to do this;
- If installed remotely, you will have limited reporting options but you can still view logs of most communications;
- In most cases, you need to have the target device in your possession to install the software;
- You will need to root an Android device if you wish to have the ability to monitor incoming instant messages.
1. Chat Service Monitoring
One of the features of mSpy includes the ability to monitor activity on internet chat services and social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and WhatsApp. Being able to monitor your child’s internet messaging activities can be of benefit in preventing associations with harmful friends. You can also use this feature to get information about inappropriate content that your child may be sending or receiving via messaging services.
2. Monitoring Email, Text and Multi-Media Messages
The app monitors texts, email, video and audio. One of the advantages of this set of features is the fact that the app not only monitors activity but provides you with usage logs of your child’s communications. This can help you to decide if your child’s interactions might be inappropriate and to determine if your son or daughter is at risk because of their social contacts.
3. Call Monitoring and Call Blocking
You can receive information about call duration and timestamp, so you can have the benefit of knowing who your child is talking to and when. This feature can be valuable in protecting your child from negative interactions and to help you to assess if any of these relationships pose a threat.
Call duration and timestamp information can also serve to help you manage your child’s time. For example, you can use this information to determine if your son or daughter is using homework time to make phone calls, or if he or she is using the phone after hours. Monitoring usage in this manner may help you to assist your son or daughter if you are concerned about the health and timing of their social interactions.
Call blocking can be used to restrict incoming calls during certain times, for example, family time or meal time. You can also block calls from a specific number if you do not want your child to speak to that caller. The call blocking features is one of my favorites, because it lets me avoid ongoing monitoring by simply disallowing certain contacts.
4. Monitoring Keystrokes
The set of features designed to monitor internet use include the keylogger, as well as network monitoring and internet connection control options. The keylogger allows you to monitor all communication that is typed on the device, regardless of which app your child uses to type. This can be a very useful feature for parents of children who may be typing off-line but who send previously typed messages when they re-establish an internet connection. With this feature, there is less opportunity for a child to circumvent the monitoring process by uploading pre-typed documents or messages, since the keylogger will record this activity and forward it to the parent’s control panel.
5. Monitoring Internet Use
Network monitoring and connection control options include the ability to block access to specific websites, to block specific apps that are installed on your child’s phone, and to block internet access altogether. The advantage of this set of options is that you have many choices for configuring your child’s internet connection. You can restrict internet use by blocking specific websites, disallow internet use by blocking the connection entirely, or allow internet use while blocking specific apps.
The network monitoring features also allow you to restrict your child’s access to specific content, such as adult material or violence, by specifying keywords for the software to flag. The advantage of this feature is that more tech savvy youngsters will have difficulty bypassing the blocks by attempting to access it through a different website or via a different method. If they do this, the keylogger will record these attempts and the software will also log when internet access changed from a data connection to wi-fi.
6. Specifying Physical Boundaries
Geo-fencing, which is fully integrated with Google Maps, provides full functionality in location monitoring. With geo-fencing, you can set the physical parameters for your child’s activity and the software will notify you when your child leaves this designated area. This option provides the benefit of being able to monitor your child’s whereabouts without having to be physically present, so that it gives the child freedom while also allowing you to monitor what he or she is doing. This is especially useful if you have a concern that your child might not be telling the truth about their activities and you need to verify their whereabouts.
7. Recording and Security Options
Built-in security features include phone locking, remote data wiping and SIM card tampering alerts. These options can be a tremendous asset not only in protecting your child from negative influences, but also to avert catastrophe in more dangerous situations. Having the ability to lock your child’s phone and to remotely wipe its data can help to protect your child from identity theft if his or her device is lost or stolen. Such actions can also shield your son or daughter from potential predators who may be able to access personal information from a stolen device.
8. Jail Break, No Jail Break and Root
The mSpy software can be installed on Android devices that are running operating system versions 4 and above. To be able to monitor incoming instant messages, however, you will need to root the Android device you will be monitoring. Rooting of an Android device is the process of gaining complete control of the phone or tablet by enabling administrator privileges on the device. Rooting must be done very carefully because rooting will void the warranty. If done incorrectly, you will end up with a phone that is not only unusable but that also has no warranty. For a thorough discussion of rooting Android phones and tablets, you may want to check out Mark Jansen’s article that discusses the methods to use if you wish to root an Android phone, as well as the joys and risks of doing so.
The mSpy app is also compatible with all versions of iOS 7-11+ but provides a restricted set of options if it is installed on a device that is not jail broken. Jail breaking is the process of escalating privileges on an iOS device, allowing the user to gain administrative control of the iPad or iPhone. Installing mSpy on jail broken devices that are running iOS 7-8.4 and iOS 9.0-9.1 will offer the full set of options, which is not available on devices that are not jail broken.
On no jail break devices, you can still monitor notes, calendar, email, chats, phone calls and texts. You will be able to monitor WhatsApp conversations, but it will not be possible to monitor other messaging apps. You will also be able to gather information about the wi-fi hotspots that your child connects to. This information will be valuable if you have concerns about where your child may be spending his or her time, since the keylogger will provide location information about the hotspot connections.
On no jail break devices, you can view installed apps on your child’s phone. To be able to monitor or block apps on no jail break phones, however, you need your child’s Apple credentials and should also enable iCloud backup. You will need physical access to the device if iCloud backup is not activated. The advantage of the no jail break option is that it allows you to use mSpy even if you do not have access to your child’s phone, but the no jail break device will function with a restricted set of privileges because you will lack administrative access to the file system.
What Customers Are Saying About mSpy
As I was writing this mSpy review, I came across some testimonials that were submitted on Sitejabber by real customers. The reviews get at the heart of why parents install spyware in the first place and speak to the benefits the app can provide for parents.
If you enjoy watching videos, this YouTube video shows several customer perspectives in one short film. The mSpy app can be used in other situations where monitoring is needed, for example, employee phone use. If you have this type of monitoring need, these YouTube videos might be a good place to get additional information.
Most mobile monitoring includes email and text monitoring, call blocking, website blocking, activity logging and browser history recording. If mSpy does not work for you, other solutions might be a better choice. I will summarize the features of two additional software programs to illustrate functions that might be available in monitoring systems.
Flexispy is available for Android, iOS, Windows and Mac, Nokia, and BlackBerry and is offered in Premium and Extreme versions. Purchase terms include one month, three months and twelve months. It integrates call interception, call recording and surroundings recording, but only the Extreme version includes password cracking.
Hoverwatch, another widely used program, tracks contacts, calendar activity, calls and texts, location, video, audio and popular Internet messaging services. Its unique features include call recording and detection of SIM card tampering. The disadvantage of is that it is only available for Android and Windows systems.
I compared mSpy, Flexispy and Hoverwatch, and came up with this summary:
- Flexispy works on a broader range of compatible platforms but is more expensive than mSpy. Hoverwatch is only available for Windows and Android, but offers a variety of plan options that can cover up to five devices;
- Flexispy offers call recording, ambient recording, and call interception, but several of its features are integrated into the Extreme version and are not part of the Premium subscription. While mSpy does not offer call recording or call interception, its keylogging feature is useful in gathering some of the same types of information that would be available to users of Flexispy;
- Flexispy has short-term subscription plans that let you try the software before making a longer-term commitment, but the short-term plans are more expensive. While mSpy does not offer these options, it does offer a free seven-day trial and the regular subscription is less expensive than Flexispy;
- Password cracking is unique to Flexispy, while the integration of geo-fencing with Google Maps is unique to mSpy. Hoverwatch and mSpy integrate SIM card tampering detection into their monitoring platforms;
- Flexispy requires installation on a jail broken device and so is not available for iOS devices that are not jail broken. mSpy offers the option of installation on devices that are not jail broken. This issue is not relevant for Hoverwatch, since it is currently not available for iOS devices.
Why mSpy and Where to Get It
My mSpy review would not be complete without me reiterating that mSpy can help you to keep your child safe and to know what he or she is doing. mSpy runs in the background so you never have to worry that your child might discover the monitoring. Because mSpy is compatible with most mobile devices, there is almost no device that your child uses that you will not be able to monitor. You can get a seven-day free trial by visiting the company’s blog or visit the official product website if you want to download the product with all features.