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 all the best spy apps on the market (well over 20). In this post I’m going to review mSpy; my pick for the best overall spy app on the market. Most reviews leave out some of the nitty gritty details such as refund polices, which can be AWFUL to say the least.
While the mSpy app isn’t perfect (read my frustrations below), it delivers all of the functionality I required while also offering consistently reliable operation and a solid technical support team.
This mSpy review will describe the features of the software and will explain why it could be answer to your own phone monitoring needs.
There are any number of reasons why you might need to monitor someone else’s 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.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there were certain frustrations I had with this app during the installation. Since I wanted the full version I had to first jailbreak the phone. Of course you can still use this app without jailbreaking the target phone, but the features are more limited.
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 customer support, 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.
The mSpy app allows you to 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.
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.
mSpy is optimized for mobile devices and offers distinct advantages:
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.
Even with all these amazing features, it is important to note that not all devices perform equally well with mSpy. The disadvantages include:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 feature from mSpy allows 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.
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 one of my favorite features from mSpy, and find it 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.
Built-in security features include target 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.
The mSpy software can be installed on Android phones 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 target 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.
mSpy 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. This step is common to most spy apps, not just mSpy.
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.
mSpy is available in 3 different packages: basic, mSpy Premium, and Family. Here are the pricing details for each.
mSpy Basic: $29.99 per month.
mSpy Premium: $69.99 per month or $199.99 per year.
Family Plan: $359.97 for 6 months or $479 per year.
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. mSpy 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:
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.