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10 best spy apps for Android 2023: Monitor what matters

Spy apps are not great, but there are legitimate uses for them. Here are the best ones we could find.
By
January 3, 2023
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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.

Are spy apps legal?

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the legalities of using Android spy apps. As it goes with anything, laws change from city to city, state to state, and country to country. This means you will have to dig deeper into your local authorities to find a definitive answer on whether it’s legal for you to use spy apps, also known as “stalkerware” or “spyware.”

That said, secretly spying on any adult’s phone is illegal in the USA. This is clearly stated under the Wiretap Act (18 U.S.C. § 2511). In short, this is considered a form of “wiretapping” or “eavesdropping.”

“Section 2511 of Title 18 prohibits the unauthorized interception, disclosure, and use of wire, oral, or electronic communications. The prohibitions are absolute, subject only to the specific exemptions in Title III. Consequently, unless an interception is specifically authorized, it is impermissible and, assuming existence of the requisite criminal intent, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2511."

-Wiretap Act

In short, you can’t use apps like these on someone without them knowing about it first. It’s against the law.

The government has strong reasons to enforce these anti-spying laws, as technological advancement makes it very simple and affordable to know everything about a person. We’ve already seen plenty of lawsuits regarding spy apps over the years.

A smartphone has access to your emails, messages, location, banking information, and much more. As a result, spy apps have become a common tool for abusive partners, criminals, and other wrongdoers.

There are legal and moral ways to use a spy app.

All that said, there are legal and moral ways to use Android spy apps. Of course, you can use spy apps on your own devices, to track or monitor them. Additionally, you can legally install spy apps on your children’s devices without their consent or knowledge, but that does open up some ethics questions.

It’s also common for employers to install such apps on company devices. Permission from the employee is still necessary. Similarly, you could ask anyone else to consent to the installation of such software on their devices, for any given reason.

The best spy apps for Android

Comparison table

AppCan it locate a phone?Can it spy on calls, messages, apps, etc.?Is it available for both iOS and Android?Can I hide the app?Free trial?Price
App
mSpy
Can it locate a phone?
Yes
Can it spy on calls, messages, apps, etc.?
Yes, but not live. You get access to call logs.
Is it available for both iOS and Android?
Yes
Can I hide the app?
Yes
Free trial?
No
Price
$11.66 with an annual subscription
App
Cerberus
Can it locate a phone?
Yes
Can it spy on calls, messages, apps, etc.?
No
Is it available for both iOS and Android?
No. It's only available for Android, and you can't get the app from the Play Store.
Can I hide the app?
Yes
Free trial?
No
Price
$5-$43 per year
App
FlexiSpy
Can it locate a phone?
Yes
Can it spy on calls, messages, apps, etc.?
Yes. You can even listen to calls live, and get recordings.
Is it available for both iOS and Android?
Yes
Can I hide the app?
Yes
Free trial?
Yes, but only for 24 hours
Price
$29.95-$119 per month
App
Google Family Link
Can it locate a phone?
Yes
Can it spy on calls, messages, apps, etc.?
No
Is it available for both iOS and Android?
No, only for Android. Parents or administrators can use an iOS app.
Can I hide the app?
No
Free trial?
No
Price
Free
App
Find My Device by Google
Can it locate a phone?
Yes
Can it spy on calls, messages, apps, etc.?
No
Is it available for both iOS and Android?
No, only Android
Can I hide the app?
No
Free trial?
No
Price
Free
App
Prey Anti Theft
Can it locate a phone?
Yes
Can it spy on calls, messages, apps, etc.?
No
Is it available for both iOS and Android?
Yes
Can I hide the app?
No
Free trial?
No
Price
Free
App
Spyera
Can it locate a phone?
Yes
Can it spy on calls, messages, apps, etc.?
Yes. Supports live call listening and even social media call monitoring.
Is it available for both iOS and Android?
Yes
Can I hide the app?
You can disguise the app
Free trial?
No, but you get a 10-day money back guarantee
Price
$89 per month for smartphones
App
Carrier family locator apps
Can it locate a phone?
Yes
Can it spy on calls, messages, apps, etc.?
No
Is it available for both iOS and Android?
Usually
Can I hide the app?
No
Free trial?
Not usually
Price
Mostly free or very affordable
App
OEM Find My Phone apps
Can it locate a phone?
Yes
Can it spy on calls, messages, apps, etc.?
No
Is it available for both iOS and Android?
These are usually only available for devices from the same manufacturer
Can I hide the app?
No
Free trial?
Not usually
Price
Usually free
App
XNSPY
Can it locate a phone?
Yes
Can it spy on calls, messages, apps, etc.?
Yes
Is it available for both iOS and Android?
Yes
Can I hide the app?
Yes
Free trial?
No. You can request a partial refund within 10 days if you're not satisfied.
Price
$7.50 with an annual subscription

mSpy

Promoted

Price: $11.66 with an annual subscription

Pros:

  • Good value for the price
  • Full-featured all-in-one solution
  • Well-hidden app

Cons:

  • You need an annual subscription to get the best price

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.

Cerberus

Price: $5-$43 per year

Pros:

  • A lot of advanced features
  • You can find a lost or stolen phone easily
  • It has features not found on “Find My Phone” apps on Google Play

Cons:

  • Some of its features are available free elsewhere
  • Can’t track other people’s devices
  • Not available on Google Play

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

Price: Free trial / $29.95-$119 per month

Pros:

  • Packed with features, including keylogging, GPS tracking, keyword alerts, call interception, call recording, and you can even use the other person’s phone like a bug and record stuff from the mic.
  • Support for all major platforms
  • You can transfer licenses from one phone to the next quickly and easily.
  • 24/7 live chat support is available if needed.

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Not available directly from the Play Store.
  • iPhones usually need to be jailbroken

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

Price: Free

Google Family Link Google Play
Joe Hindy / Android Authority

Pros:

  • It’s completely free
  • Full Google support and integration
  • Super simple to use

Cons:

  • Not as full-featured as other options
  • It’s geared for use on children’s phones with parental monitoring. It may feel lacking in other use cases.

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 an entirely free option for you to try.

Find My Device by Google

Price: Free

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Pros:

  • It’s completely free
  • Full Google support and integration
  • Super simple to use
  • Usually enabled by default on Android devices

Cons:

  • Its only purpose is to find and manage a lost/stolen device
  • Only works with devices running Android or Chrome OS

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, you can’t take pictures or anything like you can with Cerberus. Overall, it’s a straightforward method for keeping track of where your phone is at all times.

Prey Anti Theft

Price: Free

Pros:

  • It’s free
  • Has more features than Find My Device
  • Available for a variety of mobile and PC platforms

Cons:

  • The experience can be a bit buggy
  • Not as intuitive as other solutions

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.

Spyera

Price: $89 per month for Android devices

Spyera - best spy apps for android

Pros:

  • Amazing set of features, including remote control
  • Excellent cross-platform support
  • Great for enterprise users
  • Completely undetectable

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • It may be a bit too intrusive
  • iOS installation may be a bit complicated

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 enterprise use. It has many features, including the ability to hide itself from 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 average folks. It’s also not available on Google Play, so you must download the app from its official website.

Carrier family locator apps

Price: Free

Pros:

  • Either free or affordable
  • You can get support straight from your carrier
  • Generally pretty easy to use
  • Can be added to every line on your plan

Cons:

  • Solutions are exclusive to carrier subscribers
  • Not as full-featured as other options

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

Price: Free

Samsung Find My Mobile - best spy apps

Pros:

  • It’s free
  • You can get support straight from your manufacturer
  • You can activate on multiple phones provided they are logged in with the same account.

Cons:

  • Solutions are exclusive to the manufacturer
  • Not as full-featured as other options

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 other features are also available. It’s worth looking to see if your phone has something like this.

XNSPY

Price: $59.99-$89.99 per year

Pros:

  • Has a ton of features, including Wi-Fi logging, call recording, recording through the mic even when not on a call, GPS tracking, and you can even view apps like WhatsApp or SMS.
  • Stealth mode supported
  • Latest iOS devices don’t require jailbreaking
  • Decent how-tos and documentation on the official website

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Only available for Android and iOS

XNSPY is a bit of a weird case. It has all of those frightening features like monitoring call logs, GPS tracking, monitoring web browsing, accessing chats, and all kinds of other tracking stuff. However, it’s more affordable than most of its bigger competitors like FlexiSpy and Spyera. This is a good option for businesses or families with some money to spend. Still, families may want to try Google Family Link or Kiddie Parental Controls before something more robust 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, many of the usual methods don’t work 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.

FAQs

Not usually. In the USA, it’s illegal to spy on any person’s smartphone without explicit permission. The only exception is when you’re tracking your children’s devices.

You will usually need physical access to the device to install the necessary app and set it up. After that, most good services offer remote monitoring, and some may even support remote control.

Most of these apps are amazingly good at hiding themselves. Most people won’t be able to tell their devices have a spy app installed, unless they are purposely looking for it.

There are some free spy applications available, but they usually aren’t as good or full-featured as the paid ones.

A factory data reset will get rid of all apps and data, so it will get rid of spyware too.

It depends on your needs and the quality of the software you want. Many simple solutions are free. The best and most full-featured apps can get very pricey, though. Some go for over $100 a month!

While hard to do, it’s possible to detect if your phone is running spyware. For example, you can try monitoring your data using an app like GlassWire. Some antivirus apps can also detect them.

Google is your friend! You can likely search the topic and mention your location in the search query. Additionally, you can read through your local laws.


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.