How Can I Spy On A Cell Phone Without Installing Software On The Target Phone?

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Hacking someone’s phone without ever having the target phone in your possession – is this even an option, or a thing of the future that’s closer to science fiction than reality? Well, let’s examine the market and see what can and cannot be done.

Looks like you have one grate question “How can i spy on a cell phone without installing software on the target phone?” There is no simple answer to the question. In this article, I’m going to share my vision of what is going on in the software market and what we can do about it.

Cell phone spying methods differ greatly depending on your level of technical skills and familiarity with system processes. Pro hackers are unlikely to be reading this article in the first place, so we’ll discuss the means available to a regular phone user – someone who has not done much with their phones beyond downloading apps and using them by instructions.

So, is it even possible for someone to find out what a person is up to?

Definitely, but in the vast majority of cases you do need to be in possession of the target phone at least once – either to download the app, which will subsequently work in stealth mode and be off the radar, or to copy the phone’s technical details. The latter may be needed for apps that you download to your own phone in order to pair it up with the target phone. All other methods of spying on cell phone without installing software on target phone, however, require more technical prowess than a regular user may have, and include things like sim card duplication. There are also much more complex, mind-boggling, and almost sci-fi methods like creating the analogue of cell phone towers that read your phone info right off the airwaves, but these jaw-dropping tactics are just out of the scope of this article.


Human thirst for knowledge and curiosity has no bounds. This becomes quite so evident when someone gets obsessed and no longer able to resist a burning desire to peep into someone else’s secret. It forces us to develop new methods of getting information.

There are many reasons why we want to know a little more about someone than we should. These define the ethical side of the matter. For example, it is quite understandable that every parent wants to know where their children are right now and what they are getting up to. Naturally, we always strive to secure our kids against dangers that wait around every corner.

Monitoring someone else’s activities like this can be helpful in cases whereby one needs to track an old or weak person’s movements. For example, a person with Alzheimer disease, a stroke, etc., may suddenly lose all sense of direction and ability to call for help when the user really needs it. If he or she has stopped responding to your calls, and there is a cell phone tracking program on his/her phone, you can locate and pick him/her up before things get worse.

Every employer needs to be sure that employees are doing their work properly, are not chilling, gaming or disclosing important or confidential information to potential competitors. Since most of their work is carried out online, it is possible to see what they are doing or if they are doing something they are not supposed to be doing.

Some spouses may feel jealous and want to track each other’s online activities. There are tools that allow users to track someone else’s phone calls, messages, downloads/uploads, social media activities, etc. This data can help build a picture of what target users may be into right now and in a way predict their actions.

Is It Possible to Install Spy Apps on a Phone without Physical Use of It?

Until recently, most of those willing to track other users’ online activities tried to install software on their phones. However, it is a rather delicate matter, because few people would trust someone else to install something on their devices, let alone letting someone spy on them.

Technically, it is hardly possible to install an advanced spy app on a phone without actually using it. Second, spying is prohibited in most countries, so anyone guilty of trying to do so without a target user’s consent would eventually face a trial. Any such action requires a court’s permission and should be carried out professionally by security services with the use of highly advanced equipment. It takes a special mission to legitimately install a spy app on someone else’s cell phone.

Security services and law enforcement agencies, who are authorized to carry out such missions, use a whole spectrum of advanced professional equipment, software and techniques to track whatever you do with the help of a phone. For example, they set up additional cell phone towers (StingRay devices) in the proximity of places, where target users usually stay. These devices imitate legitimate cell phone towers and a kind of force all devices in the neighborhood to connect to and pass data through them. The technology helps agencies track phone calls, conversations, messages, online activities, etc., collect the information and later use it for avariety of purposes. The data is collected with the help of the tower-dump technology, which allows to track the exact location of a target user at a particular time.

Security services and law enforcement agencies use highly sophisticated bugging and tracking software, which they secretly install on users’ devices. The software connects to a phone’s elements (microphones, cameras, etc.) and existing apps and allows services to capture conversations, messages, map users’ locations, etc. They can even connect to microphones when a target phone is not used actively and thus catch the audio of what is going on around it. All this information is promptly collected, logged and shared as directed by the agency.

Cyberstalking is another tactics, which is aimed to harass a person, a group of persons, or an organization. The tactics involves a spectrum of activities and, not infrequently, use of equipment and software to collect information (including private) to blackmail, bully, solicit, set up, defame or libel a victim in different ways. To cyberstalk a person, assailants hire professional hackers. Normally, legislations regard this practice as a serious criminal offence, which entails severe penalties.

Everyone should know that any use of such equipment, software and methods without an official permission, warranty and/or court’s decision, and hacking, are serious offences, which, in most cases, entail imprisonment!

Spying and Monitoring: Ethical and Technical Aspects

As mentioned above, spying is illegal and entails a punishment. However, putting an app on someone else’s device does not necessarily mean spying. Parents, who install phone tracking apps on their children’s phones, notify them of that, get their consent and therefore do not actually spy. What they do is track their location, check their messages, etc., upon their consent.

Likewise, business managers install these apps on devices (corporate, not personal!) and do upon their written consent. ​What they do is monitor, but not spy on staff members.​This does not entail any penalties.

Apart from the legal aspect, the issue has a lot to do with ethics. Therefore, those who would like to install spyware on other users’ devices without their knowledge, apart from criminal persecution, run the risk of losing that person’s trust.

As follows from the above, installing an app on a cell phone without touching it is hardly possible, if at all. Also, there is a growing awareness that it is not necessary either. Many advanced users and specialists believe that spy apps that need to be installed on someone else’s phones are fairly outdated.

Besides, there are compatibility issues with iPhones, because in most cases installation requires jailbreaking. Although jailbreaking is easy and legal, it does have its own downsides. For example, it ruins a good share of Apple’s anti-virus and anti-malware protection and makes any iOS upgrade pointless, because it would, in turn, ruin the jailbreaking.

This seems to be less of a problem with Android smartphones, because there are tons of spy apps available for free or at an affordable price. Also, it is possible to download apps not only from the Google play store. However, there is still the need of directly handling that device, which will always be a hindrance.

How Do I Track a Cell Phone without Installing Spyware on It?

Some advanced users resort to ​phishing techniques to put an app on someone else’s phone without actually possessing it. One of the most popular methods is sending a link to a target user and convincing users to follow it. Once they do, an app will be automatically installed on the target device. However, this can be difficult if you are going to track someone you are not familiar with, because many people are fairly suspicious about unknown links and won’t follow them. It can be a little easier if you want to monitor your friend or relative: you can disguise it as a link to an exciting or funny thing, and the program will be installed long before users realize (if they ever do) that something has gone wrong.

Needless to say, this phishing technique does have advantages over those requiring physical use of someone else’s phone, because:

  • It solves the jailbreaking problem;
  • It offers a higher level of secrecy.

However, most apps configured for this installation method have limited functionality and won’t solve all problems. Also, to embrace the whole spectrum of goals, you may need to install a group of tools, not just one. This could overload the target phone’s memory and affect its general operation. In this case, there is nothing to guarantee that your friend or loved one will follow all links you send to them or not discover the spyware on their phones.

iCloud appears to be a great option to monitoring apple devices, such as iPhone and iPad, because the technology does not require direct use of the target device, or installing any spyware on it. Most important, it does not require jailbreaking. iCloud uses software that syncs well with all Apple devices and allows for a quick and stable connection between the target phone and device paired with it. As you do so, you should get access to the Apple ID of the target device. Besides, it is necessary to deactivate two-factor authorization for this ID. If not, the owner of the device will receive a notification that someone is trying to connect to his or her Apple ID. If two-factor authorization is deactivated, there are two options:

  • Track the phone’s GPS location via Apple’s official website
  • Use a special kind of application featuring an iCloud-backed tracking function

In the latter case, you can track quite a handful of activities, such as:

  • Skype, Telegram, Viber, WhatsApp, etc. messaging;
  • Cam tracking (pictures, videos, etc.);
  • Browsing history and blocking access to unwanted websites and pages;
  • Setting time limits for the use of the Internet;
  • Social media contacts and activities;
  • GPS location;
  • Use of Wi-Fi hotspots;
  • Monitor any other application that is installed on a target device.

There are settings for each of these functions, which you can access and adjust anytime. Also, the tools mentioned above can help you log all these activities via your iCloud profile, analyze them and build a comprehensive picture of what the target user is doing or about to do. Thus you can get tons of information, which can help you steer your child down the right path or track your elderly relative’s routes and come for help, if necessary.

Another good thing about iCloud is that it implies that you type in the target phone’s password. This makes it impossible to track the device without the target user’s consent, so you will not be breaking any laws or regulations. Unless you have hacked the user’s account and stolen the password, you will be ​monitoring the person, not spying on him/her. As said above, you must be sure that the target user agrees to provide the password and let you monitor the device.

The downside of iCloud is that the target user does have access to this information too and hence can limit your access to some part of it. For example, they can delete pictures, videos and messages from the account, which they do not want you to view or read.

Do I Really Need to Spy on a Cell Phone?

If you are considering a possibility of tracking someone’s phone, please, think twice. Be sure that this is something you really need and you have ethical and legal grounds to do so. Are you worried about where your children go every day and what they are getting into? Have you noticed any dramatic changes in their behavior? Or are you worried about your elderly parent or grandparent’s condition? Would it be so bad that there’d be no choice but to monitor him/her?

Please, check each and every legal aspect of it and distinguish between spying and monitoring. If necessary, check your local legislation and be sure that none of the steps, which you are going to make, is going to violate any article. Please, r​emember that ignorance of the law is no excuse!

Please, be sure that your would-be target user (a child, relative, employee, etc.) wouldn’t mind being monitored. Discuss with him/her the particular type of information, which you want to know and are going to track. If there seems to be no option but to track people surreptitiously (if they are old, weak, ill or addicted), it is advisable to consult a lawyer and find a legal way to monitor his/her actions.

Based on the above, you can decide what type of software or service you wish to use. There are quite a number of cell phone tracker tools available online. Be sure it is compatible with your and the target device, and its functionality caters to your needs. Once you get the target user’s consent, you can choose and buy the best app you can afford. Most of them come with trial periods, so you can check an app’s work prior to paying and see if you are ok with it.

Top APPs

There’s a multitude of spying software on the market, and you should look for well-rated programs with positive reviews. We recommend the following:

  • Highster Mobile (iPhone and Android-based phones) – for a one-time $69.99 fee you’ll get a solid range of features, 24/7 tech support and the option of remote uninstallation. The features include call, SMS and social media chat tracking, access to e-mails and media files.
  • MSpy (for Android, Blackberry and jailbroken iPhones) – an extended range of features, including the basics, such as call and sms tracking, as well as Telegram tracking and multiple device monitoring. It is a subscription-based service, with a monthly fee ($25.49 or $69.99, depending on the package).
  • FlexiSpy (for Android, iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile and Blackberry) – in addition to the basic set of features offers live call interception and recording, stealth camera and microphone functions, and password grabber. The most expensive of the three, but with the best range of powerful options.

All of this software requires one-time access to be downloaded to the target phone.

Once again … Ethical Dilemma

What about the legal side of the question? Does anyone besides law enforcement and government-affiliated structures, in fact, have a right to access other people’s personal data through their phones? It depends heavily on the country you’re in, but, as a rule, in many countries you may only monitor your underage kids’ smartphones, or your employees’ devices if they are company property provided to them at work without infringing on the law. In all other cases, it becomes a serious legal choice for you to make. The precise laws vary widely, but no country encourages private monitoring of other people’s cell phones.

Moreover, any information obtained through smartphone spying will have no legal standing under any circumstances.

Hopefully, we’ve clarified some of the issues for you, so that you can make responsible conscientious choices and achieve your goals.