How to Spy on a Cell Phone without Installing Software

Justice Ekaeze  - Tech Expert
Last updated: May 7, 2024
Read time: 17 minutes

Learn how to spy on a cell phone without installing software. This article features some effective methods to help your spying activity.


Spying on a cell phone without installing software is practical, but you’ll need a spy app to create remote access. Spy apps help you access the most private information, including text messages, social media activity, web browser history, and more. However, you can also opt for built-in location trackers for real-time spying.


Whether you suspect your partner is cheating on you or want to know what your kid is doing with their phone, there is always a reason to spy on someone’s cell phone. Such spying usually requires installing software on the target’s phone, but that is not very subtle.

The whole idea of spying is to be stealthy and keep the target unaware of your mission, but installing software on your target’s phone may expose your intentions.

You don’t have to install software on a phone to spy on it. Rest assured, this article will inform you how to spy on a cell phone without installing software. Let’s get to it.

Methods of spying on a cell phone without installing software

Spy on Cell Phone without Software

You can use three methods to spy on a cell phone without installing software on the target device. The first method of spying involves utilizing a spy app, while the second involves using location-tracking tools. The third method of spying on a cell phone without installing software involves using native apps such as Google Maps and Find My iPhone.

1. Use a cell phone spy app

When it comes to spying on phones, some people only want to know the location of their target’s phone. However, phone spy apps are built for you if you want more than just seeing your target’s location.

These apps show you more than just the GPS location of your target’s phone; they also provide information such as text messages, social media activity, incoming & outgoing calls, browsing history, and more. These pieces of information are all you need to know what your target has been doing on their phone.

As you might have guessed, spy apps offer the highest monitoring features compared to the other two methods. Spy apps allow you to get private information from your employee’s phone, kid’s phone, or partner’s device.

Here are the top apps that can help you spy on a cell phone without installing software on the target device.

1. mSpy


Key features

  • Setup time – 5 minutes
  • Monitors SMS and iMessage 
  • Real-time location tracking
  • Standard and Family plans

mSpy is the best cell phone tracker that monitors Android or iOS devices. You can use the app to spy on a target’s iOS device without jailbreaking or installing the app on their device. However, you’ll need their iCloud credentials (ID and password) to gain remote access to their device with mSpy.

If you can’t find the credentials, install the app on your target’s iOS device. With Android devices, there is no option for remote access. You must install the mSpy app on your target’s Android device to view their private data.

mSpy monitors and provides texts, web browser history, contacts, call logs, calendar events, and WhatsApp chats. The app regularly takes screenshots of your target’s activity and uploads them to a control panel that you can view from your smartphone or computer.

mSpy offers two different pricing plans: Standard and Family Kit. The Standard plan costs $11.67 monthly for an annual plan and $28 monthly for a monthly plan. On the other hand, the Family Kit plan costs $28 monthly on a yearly plan and $42 monthly on a three-month subscription.

2. uMobix


Key features

  • Setup time – Less than four minutes
  • Monitor SMS and iMessage
  • Monitors such social media and chat apps
  • Real-time location tracking

uMobix comes second on our list thanks to its uniqueness among the phone spy apps. It offers the most monitoring features, operates in stealth mode, and is simple and fast to install. In under four minutes, you’ll be done setting uMobix up and ready to spy on your target.

Moreover, you don’t need to install uMobix on a target’s phone if it’s an Apple device. Instead, you only need their iCloud username and password to access their private data with the spy app. However, if you can’t find your target’s iCloud details, you must install the uMobix app on their device.

On the other hand, there is no way to use uMobix to access data remotely on an Android device. If your target uses an Android device, install uMobix on their device.

With uMobix, you can spy on all the popular social media apps, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and more. This spy app lets you monitor WhatsApp, Facebook, and more messages. It is compatible with iOS and Android devices.

uMobix offers three pricing plans, including:

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

3. SpyBubble


Key features

  • Setup time – 5 minutes
  • Monitors SMS and iMessage 
  • Monitors 5 social media and chat apps (excluding Facebook Messenger)
  • Real-time location tracking

SpyBubble works like uMobix but cannot monitor Facebook messenger texts on iOS devices. However, it can offer other spying benefits such as recording texts, phone call logs, iMessage, Instagram, Skype, Tinder, and WhatsApp messages. The spy app takes screenshots from your target’s phone at intervals and delivers them to you.

Besides, SpyBubble works on iOS and Android devices. You don’t have to install the app if your target uses an iOS device. All you need to spy on them is their iCloud information (ID and password). You’ll need to overcome the two-factor authentication (2FA) if required.

However, if it’s an Android device, you must install SpyBubble on your target’s cell phone. While the app’s icon will be visible during installation, you can hide it after setting it up.

SpyBubble is about the same price as uMobix: $12.49 monthly for a one-year subscription plan. So, price will not be one of your considerations when choosing between both spy apps.

2. Use phone GPS tracking software

If you’re only concerned about your target’s location, there’s no need to use the spy apps. Instead, you can opt for GPS tracking tools to pinpoint their location. These tools use GPS signals and cell tower triangulation to identify a phone’s location. Once they’ve found the spot, it will be displayed on a map to tell you where your target is.

With location tracking software, you don’t need physical access or app installation on the target phone; you only need the target’s phone number.

The tracking tools are effective alternatives to spy apps, letting you spy via phone numbers without the target phone. Here are the top two location-tracking apps.

1. GeoFinder


Key features

  • Setup time – 1 minute
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Monitors only phone location

GeoFinder is a location-tracking website that works to locate a cell phone without physical access. The app can track a phone’s location remotely without installing software. Usually, remote access is available only on iOS devices. However, GeoFinder can track an Android device remotely.

This location-tracking site is compatible with Android and iOS devices. The target’s phone number is the only material you need to locate their position.

Steps for using GeoFinder to spy on a cell phone’s location

  • Visit GeoFinder’s website.
  • Input the target’s phone number.
  • GeoFinder will try to locate the phone through its cellular network.
  • The site will prompt you to create an account and pay if found. There is a paid two-day trial before commitment to a full-month subscription.
  • Once you’ve paid, GeoFinder will ask you to text the target’s phone.
  • The target’s exact location will pop up when they click the text.

2. Localize


Key features

  • Setup time – 1 minute
  • Monitors only phone location
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices

Localize is another option for tracking someone’s cell phone without installing software. It has a similar interface to GeoFinder with a box to enter your target’s phone number. This location-tracking website works worldwide with all network and phone types.

Like GeoFinder, Localize does not spy on texts, social media apps, or call logs; it only tracks location. You can locate your target’s phone using Localize with the same steps as GeoFinder.

3. Use built-in apps to spy on a cell phone

The third method of spying on a cell phone without installing software is built-in apps. With built-in apps, you don’t have to worry about a spy app or a location-tracking website. These apps come with the phone and do not need third-party software to work.

Moreover, iOS and Android cell phones come with pre-installed monitoring software that you can use to spy. However, the software’s monitoring features are limited because they are not intended for spying; they are built to help friends and family locate one another or help someone find a missing phone.

Advantages of built-in monitoring apps

  • They are free
  • They can show the target’s specific GPS location

Disadvantages of built-in monitoring apps

  • Notifications of location sharing
  • Limited features

Here are the top built-in monitoring apps on iPhones and Android phones.

1. Find My iPhone app (iOS)

Find My iPhone

Key features

  • Location sharing
  • Location tracking
  • Location-based notifications

Apple’s Find My iPhone app is a pre-installed monitoring software that can help you spy on someone without installing third-party software. The app allows iPhone users to find a missing phone or share their location with friends and family. However, you can use the software to spy on the location of your employees, kids, or partners.

Apart from Find My iPhone’s location tracking and sharing features, it offers location-based notifications that inform you when your target has arrived at or left a location. The notification can also notify you when your target isn’t at a location during a time window. This feature is excellent for spying on your partner’s snapchat or kids to know whether they’re where they should be.

2. Google Maps (Android and iOS)

Google Maps

Key features

  • Location sharing
  • Location tracking
  • Location History
  • Location-based notifications

Unlike the Find My iPhone app exclusive to the iPhone, Google Maps is available on both Android phones and iPhones. It is a powerful mapping platform that offers directions and satellite imagery and tracks location.

You can track a target’s real-time location with Google Maps by setting up “Location sharing” on their phone. The target must have Google Maps installed on their phone and be logged into their Google account to enable Location Sharing.

Location sharing menu

Location sharing menu

You can enable Location sharing through the Google Maps app and choose whether you want to share your target’s real-time location For 1 hour or Until you turn this off. Then, share the location with your email address.

Share real-time location

Share real-time location with your email address

When you open Location Sharing on your device, the target’s exact real-time location will be shown on the map. You can also view their location history. You can disable Location sharing by tapping “Stop” on the target’s cell phone.

Real-time location shown on the map

Real-time location is shown on the map

By default, the Google Maps app sends notifications to the person sharing their location, in this case, your target. However, you can disable notifications through the Google Maps app settings on the target’s phone to keep them unaware of your spying.

Risks of using spying apps


Spying apps can be useful, but they are not without risks. Here are the risks you should be aware of when using spying apps:

  • The target can find out you’re spying on them if they’re notified.
  • Inappropriate spying carries legal risks if you’re found out. Monitoring your employee’s or children’s phones is legal, but you need your partner’s or spouse’s consent to view private information. Of course, informing them of your actions is no longer spying. So, if you spy on your partner, avoid getting caught.

Limitations of remote spyware apps


Physically installed spy apps offer various monitoring features, but there is a high risk of exposure. Hence, we recommend remote spyware apps. However, remote apps provide limited features for their stealth. Although you can still get plenty of valuable information from them, here are some features they don’t offer:

  • Cannot spy on Telegram, Snapchat, Tinder, Viber, LINE, or TikTok
  • No call recording
  • No keylogger (recording the keys tapped on a keyboard)

Note: There is NO WAY to spy on an Android phone without installing software. You can still track an Android phone’s location without installing software, but you cannot view messages and related information until you install a spy app on the target’s phone.

How can spy apps spy on a phone without software?

As mentioned above, Android phones do not support spying without installing spyware. However, iPhones allow spying without installing software on the target’s phone. iPhones usually back up their data in iCloud. So, iPhone spy apps can use a target’s iCloud credentials (Apple ID and password) to access the backups in the cloud.

Once you access your target’s iCloud account through the spy app, you can view their phone data, including messages, call logs, contacts, and more.

The spy app downloads the latest backup from the target’s iCloud account. You can view the downloaded data through a control panel.

Also read: How to Track Online History on a Cell Phone

Benefits of spy apps location tracking or built-in apps

  • Spyware apps monitor and provide much more information than location trackers or built-in apps.
  • Spy apps show text messages, call logs, and social media messages.
  • Location tracking apps can only monitor the target phone’s GPS location but cannot spy on phone calls, emails, text messages, and other communication channels.
  • Location trackers or built-in apps send notifications to targets.
  • However, built-in apps are free, while spy apps require payment.

How to choose the safe spy apps online

Online safety tips

The last thing you want when trying to spy is choosing an unsafe app. Here are some features you should look for when choosing a safe spy app online.


The first thing you should look for in a safe spy app is compatibility. Some apps only work on Android or iOS devices. We recommend apps that work on both devices. Such compatibility means you can spy on an iPhone with an Android phone and vice versa.

Location tracking

Location tracking is one of the essential spying features. Besides knowing what your target is doing on their phone, you also want to know where they are. Therefore, ensure that the spy app you’re choosing offers location tracking.

Free jailbreaking

A safe spying tool requires a free jailbreaking feature, and it must be for iOS and Android devices.


There’s no spying when your target knows what you’re up to. Therefore, we recommend a spy app that comes with stealth mode. This mode makes your spying automatically invisible, giving security during your spying session.

Web working

Choose a spy app that provides details related to your target’s browsing experience, downloads, most visited websites, bookmarks, and many more.

Social media monitoring

A safe spy app should have a social media monitoring feature. That means it should be able to monitor real-time activity on social media.

Is it possible to spy on a cell phone without installing software?

It is possible to spy on a cell phone without installing software. However, there are limitations, as you might expect. Remote spying without physical app installation offers limited features, but you still get a lot of good information.

iCloud Security

There are multiple methods for spying on a cell phone without installing software. If you’re using a spy app, you can only monitor your target if they use an iPhone. You’ll need their iCloud credentials to monitor their phone.

You can track Android phones and iPhones using a location tracker or built-in app without installing software. On an Android phone, you’ll need the target’s Google account logged in on their phone. On an iPhone, you’ll need the target’s iCloud logged in on their phone.

If you cannot obtain the login credentials from the target directly, you can opt for phishing — a process that lets you create a trap for someone to give away their credentials unknowingly.

If you’re going this route, make a phishing page that mimics the login page of your iCloud or Google account. Then, send the phishing page’s link with a convincing message to the target via text. If they’re convinced, they’ll open the link and enter their iCloud or Google account credentials, which you will obtain.

Obviously, the phishing route is a complex process, and you’ll be better off finding the credentials without resorting to deceit.


There are three methods for spying on a cell phone without installing software. You can use a spy app to get information such as text messages, call logs, social media activity, web browser activity, and more. The spy app is the only method that offers multiple pieces of information.

In contrast, third-party GPS tracking tools and built-in location trackers only monitor and report the locations of targets; you can’t get other private data from them.

Ultimately, choose a safe spy app that offers what you want and be aware of the risks of spying. If you found this article helpful, share it with your friends who might need to do some spying.


Spying on a cell phone without installing software comes with limited features. However, it is effective, and you can get critical information.

There is no free app for spying on a cell phone without touching it. However, some spy apps offer a free trial for a short period.

If you use an Android phone, Google Maps is the only built-in monitoring app. However, if you use an iPhone, Find My iPhone and Google Maps are your two built-in monitoring apps. If you want alternatives, you’ll need to install or remotely enable them.

If you’re spying on your child or employee’s phone, there’s no cause for alarm. However, if you spy on your partner’s phone, you may get into trouble if caught. The situation may jeopardize your relationship or cause you legal problems. So, we advise optimum care.

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About the Author

Justice Ekaeze

Justice Ekaeze

Tech Expert
50 Posts

Justice Ekaeze is a freelance tech writer with experience working for specialized content agencies. Justice has acquired extensive content writing experience over the years. He’s handled several projects in diverse niches but loves the cybersecurity and VPN sectors the most. His friends call him 'the VPN expert.' In his free time, he likes to play football, watch movies, and enjoy a good show.

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