Mobile phone tracking is the process of tracking the location of a mobile phone. Generally speaking, there are different technologies and modules that constitute a cell phone, and based on that, there are a number of ways to target a device and track and monitor its location. However, since going the manual route isn’t as straightforward, you can use a variety of cell phone trackers, available as apps and software, to simplify phone tracking.

phone tracker apps

What are phone tracker apps?

Phone tracker apps are essentially software installed on a device to track its GPS location, calls, messages, and more. These apps are often used by parents to track their kids’ activity and keep a tab on their whereabouts. However, that is just one of the use-cases of a phone tracker app, and you can also put it to use to locate your missing/lost device or to track your family members and friends — the scope of use stretches far beyond these use-cases.

For example, a phone tracking app enables parents to keep track of their children’s whereabouts, and it also assists people with separation anxiety. You can track your child’s mobile device using GPS and WiFi tracking and know his or her location at all times. These apps are also beneficial to people who are concerned about their loved ones being out alone at night. GPS tracking apps are also great for locating your mobile if it is lost or stolen.

Depending on what cell phone tracking software you use, you get a host of different functionalities — anywhere from real-time cell phone location tracking and history tracking to location tracking using GPS and Google Maps and phone number tracking — to name a few.

How do phone tracking apps work?

In general, cell phone tracking services (apps and software) usually utilize the GPS (Global Positioning System) to pinpoint the location of the target device. For this, they work by taking advantage of the various satellites orbiting the Earth, wherein they put to use the GPS receiver on mobile phones to make contact with a few of these satellites. Once a connection is established, these apps can then figure out the distance to each of the satellites and deduce the phone’s (approximate) location using a process known as trilateration.

As much as these phone tracking services do good and come in handy when you lose your smartphone or want to keep a tab on your kid or a family member, they also delegate certain privacy issues. And, based on which part of the globe you are located in, using them on people without their consent makes you culpable for a serious offense.

So, if you’ve been looking for mobile phone trackers, and tried searching for them on the app stores, only to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of such apps, here is our curated list of some of the best phone tracker apps to help you with all sorts of cell phone tracking needs.

Best Phone Tracker Apps

1. Glympse

Glympse is a free and simple real-time location tracking app that allows you to get the real-time location of your friends, family, coworkers right on your smartphone. This tracker app uses GPS and data connection to work and is available on Android and iOS devices.


You can use the app to securely send a glympse to your contacts to let them know where you are. People you share your locations with can then view your live location with a dynamic map on any web-enabled device without signing up. Besides sharing your location (glympse), you can also request someone for their location on the app to track their whereabouts. This functionality, in particular, can come in handy when you need to keep a tab on your child or want to track the locations of family members.

Glympse features:

  • View location without signing-up and without an app
  • View friends and family members within a private group
  • Share real-time location with dynamic maps
  • Have your shared glympses automatically expire once sharing has ended

User Complaints (as of writing):

  • No option to disable SDL notifications
  • Random app freezing on Android devices
  • Occasional connectivity issues over Wi-Fi

Download: Android | iOS

2. Family Locator by Life360

Life360’s Family Locator is another popular phone tracker app to help you stay connected with your family and the people that matter to you most. The app is available for free but does serve ads. However, you can get rid of them by making a one-time in-app purchase to have an uninterrupted experience. Not just that, the upgrade also opens doors for a host of other features like unlimited place alerts, 24/7 roadside assistance, SOS facility, and more. Family Locator is available on both Android and iPhone.


You can use this tracking app to stay connected and in-sync with your family members and coordinate with them when you attend events or visit places. Family Locator also offers the ability to create private groups, called circles, to include your family members, peers, and other contacts and always stay connected with them over chat. That way, you can view the real-time location of your circle members and get real-time alerts for when they arrive or leave a destination.

Family Locator features:

  • SOS facility to send alerts with your location to your family members and emergency contacts
  • Access to 30-day location history
  • Unlimited place alerts
  • Stolen phone coverage

User Complaints (as of writing):

  • Late notifications
  • Slightly inaccurate location tracking

Free, Paid (in-app purchase)
Download: Android | iOS

3. Family (GPS) Locator by Familonet

Another name with a similar moniker — Family (GPS) Locator — comes from Familonet. This phone tracker app is available on Android and iOS and promises to have answers for all your location tracking-related requirements. You can download it for free to get started, and then subsequently, if required, can upgrade to access more features.

familonet family locator

Family Locator can be used to stay connected with your family and get access to their real-time location on a map. This GPS tracking app also offers automatic push notifications when your family members arrive or leave their daily (predefined) destinations. And, for times when you need to connect with them, Family Locator has a private chat functionality that lets you communicate easily over chat. If you plan on keeping track of the real-time location of various members of your family, you also have an option to create multiple groups and split members accordingly. That way, you can monitor more people at once and still continue to communicate with them easily.

Family (GPS) Locator features:

  • Automatic notifications for when family members leave/arrive at predefined places
  • Multiple groups to better manage your family, friends, and other contacts
  • Panic button to alert family when you need aid
  • Access to real-time location

User Complaints (as of writing):

  • Rejoining group causes problems for some users

Free, Paid (in-app purchase)
Download: Android | iOS

4. Find My

Formerly known as Find my iPhone, the all-new Find My app on Apple devices allows you to locate your missing iDevices (iPhones, iPads, AirPods, etc.). So, if you misplace any of these devices, you can use the app to locate them. Find My is available for free, and obviously, it is limited to iPhones only.

find my

All you need to use this mobile tracker app is your Apple (iCloud) account. Once you are signed in, you can then easily locate your lost device, lock it remotely, play a sound to locate it (if you think it’s lost nearby), and display a message. Moreover, if required, you can also erase all your data on the device remotely. One of the notable features of Find My is cell phone location history, which automatically keeps track of the locations that your lost device has been to — while it was in the lost mode — to help you identify these locations and easily locate the phone.

Find My features:

  • Locate your Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Mac) on a map
  • Play sound to locate a device (if it’s in proximity)
  • Lock the lost device with a passcode remotely
  • Get driving directions to the device
  • Remotely erase all content and settings on the device

Download: iOS

5. Where’s My Droid

Where’s My Droid is another find my phone app. Similar to Apple’s Find My app for iPhones, which allows you to find your lost iPhone, iPad, iPod, and other iDevices, Where’s My Droid helps you track and locate your lost Android devices. This cell phone tracker app is pretty easy to use and offers a detailed look into the coordinates of a location to make it easier for you to locate and recover your cell phone from there.

where's my droid

In case you can’t locate your phone, you can use Where’s My Droid to turn up the phone’s ringer remotely and make it ring. Thus, increasing your chances of finding it. Similarly, if you lost your cell phone, the app allows you to lock your phone remotely and render it unusable to prevent the robber from accessing all your valuable data. Furthermore, if required, it also gives you the ability to wipe your Android device remotely to erase all its data and information.

For less than $1 per month, track the location of your Android device with this modestly-priced phone tracker. Download the GPS tracker app on Google Play to start your trial.

Where’s My Droid features:

  • Locate phone by ringing it
  • Lock a device remotely
  • Wipe device data remotely
  • Motion alarm
  • Find phone using GPS tracking
  • Geofencing
  • Prevent app from being uninstalled

Free, Paid (in-app purchase)
Download: Android

6. mSpy

mSpy is one of the more popular phone tracking software out there. It markets itself as a parental control app and not a spy app, thanks to features that allow parents to monitor their child’s phone activity without them knowing. This mobile tracker app is available for Android and iOS on the mobile side and macOS and Windows on the computer side of things. Talking about functionality, you can use the app to access browser data, contacts, messages, social apps (Facebook, Line, Telegram, WeChat, WhatsApp, and more), among other things.


Besides accessing phone data, mSpy can be used to remote control your kid’s device and perform actions like restricting calls and SMS and blocking all sorts of websites and applications. What’s more, you also get to view logs for emails, apps, and keyboard inputs using the app. However, that said, while the software touts itself as a child tracking software and offers (tracking and monitoring) features to help parents keep track of their child’s activities, it is important to keep in mind how and on whom you use this software. For, doing it on someone you don’t know without their permission can quickly turn into an unlawful act, which is why you should never use such apps on people without permission, nor should you monitor or track someone’s location without consent.

mSpy features:

  • Real-time phone GPS tracker
  • Location history
  • Geofencing
  • Panic button

Free, Paid (in-app purchase)
View mSpy

Other noteworthy apps

  • FlexiSPY
  • FamiSafe
  • iSharing
  • Cocospy

Those are some of the best phone tracker apps that you can use for a wide range of use cases. Although it is pretty easy to download these phone trackers and get started with monitoring someone’s activity or keeping a tab on their location, you should note that you always need an individual’s consent before you proceed with such actions. What this means is that till you are using these apps to monitor and track your kids or other family members, or you are taking the help of these apps to locate your lost phone, you can use them freely without having to worry about any consequences. And it is only beyond use cases like these — where you plan on monitoring someone and tracking their location — that you need their permission before you proceed with such actions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How to choose the best GPS phone tracker?

These days, you can find a host of phone tracker apps that promise to help you track your phone — everything from the paid to the free ones. However, not every single one of these apps works as advertised. And sadly, this is something that you only realize after you’ve downloaded an app and it has failed on you. This is exactly why you need to factor in a few points when picking a phone tracking app. While we have already listed the best GPS phone tracking apps above, these points will help you analyze the different feature offerings on various phone tracker apps and make it easier to identify the ones with hoax claims. So, when you search for a phone tracker app, make sure it offers the following.

(a) Ease of use: this one is probably one of the most important things you need to consider when choosing a phone tracking software. An easy-to-use phone tracker should help you simplify the location-tracking process without complicating things with unnecessary and random features.

(b) Secure and reliable to use: a lot of the phone tracking apps require elevated (root) privileges to serve you tracking functionality. As a result, they ask you to root your Android device or jailbreak your iPhone before you can use them. Even though rooting/jailbreaking is itself not dangerous, giving administrative privileges to unknown/untrusted apps is — especially if you have limited knowledge and no prior experience around it. And therefore, we recommend avoiding such apps. For in reality, there are a plethora of apps that do not require such privileges and still serve well with their functionality.

(c) Offers essential tracking features: most of the location tracking apps you come across claim to be the “best location tracker.” However, in actuality, not many of them offer the necessary set of tracking features that one would need. This is precisely why you need to check out the feature set of these apps thoroughly before downloading them or paying for their subscription. Some of the essential features you should look for include location tracking, real-time tracking, detailed map (with street view), location log, and geofencing.

2. Can you track a phone without someone knowing?

In general, most phone trackers will require you to install their mobile app or software onto the target device to track its location and activities. And from a moral standpoint, this is probably a slightly more ethical way to track someone or keep a tab on their whereabouts. However, if you still want to track someone secretly, there are services (apps and software) out there that claim to offer such functionality. But, since we are not sure how effective they are and the ethical aspects of using them, we won’t recommend such services, or for that matter, suggest them in the first place.

3. Can you track someone’s phone without them knowing?

Yes, you can. And there are spy apps that offer such functionality. But, as we mentioned in the previous question, while it is possible to track someone’s phone covertly (without them knowing), doing so can have legal consequences, which might land you in trouble in many countries.

4. Can you spy on someone’s phone without installing software?

The very definition of the word “spy” reads “secretly collecting and reporting information about one’s activity.” This pretty much aligns with what we said in the previous question — keeping a tab on someone’s location or activity covertly using a spy app without their consent is a punishable offense. So, to reiterate, unless you have a person’s (you are planning to track) permission, you should refrain from spying or keeping a tab on their location or activities.

5. Can you track your spouse’s phone without them knowing?

With advanced phone tracking apps, yes, you can.
But should you? No.

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