Phone Trackers of 2021: A Brief Review
Let’s be honest: the concept of phone trackers needs no explanation. We’ve all seen it in movies – the hero or the bad guy who ditches their phone to prevent being followed by some all-powerful intelligence service. But what you may not know is that not only are civilians also able to track phones but that there’s even a growing industry directed to this need.
«Why is this a need?», you might ask. Isn’t phone tracking something only busybodies do – whether the CIA or just some hacker with far too much time on their hands?
Well, not exactly. While you should never, and I repeat: NEVER, go about tracking people’s phones without their consent, there are legitimate reasons why a parent, for example, might feel the need to install a GPS phone tracker in his or her child’s phone. It’s not about limiting the child’s freedom by tracking their every movement – it’s about safety and security.
- So how can I track the location of a cell phone?
- Our Review of the Best Phone Trackers of 2020 (So Far)
- Capping Off
So how can I track the location of a cell phone?
I know that’s the question going through your mind. Perhaps you want to make sure your son is actually at school during study time. Or maybe you are worried about that party your daughter went to, in the outskirts of town. Your children are going to a math olympiad or sports event in another city. How can you check their location and make sure they’re safe?
The answer is… well, there are many answers – as many as there are apps to track mobile phones with. Because that’s how you track someone’s cellphone: by installing on it an app that can find the phone owner’s GPS positioning on the map. It’s as simple as that.
Can a phone be tracked for free?
While you’ll find a universe of apps for tracking phones, most either require a paid subscription or work with a freemium model, with some essential functions available for free while others require paying a monthly, yearly or one-time fee. The range of choice is quite extensive, and to make it easier for you we’ve listed our top mobile phone trackers.
Our Review of the Best Phone Trackers of 2020 (So Far)
Primarily designed to help parents and families make sure their loved ones are safe, these apps do a good deal more than just track a phone’s location. In fact, each and every one of these applications comes equipped with a range of functions for doing everything from communicating with the child to limiting their use of the internet.
To help you make up your mind on which one to try, we have also listed below each app’s pricing information, where available, as well as the platforms they’re available on and how to install them.
Before we start, note that «best» is an inherently subjective concept, since different users will have different priorities. For some, the product’s cost is very important; for others, good customer support is the deciding factor, and so on. Having said that, the list below features nothing but top-rated apps and we hope it will help you choose the best one for your needs.
#1 Find My Kids
Whether you want to know where your kid has been or what apps they’ve been using during homework, Find My Kids will tell you that – and a good deal more to boot. A few of its main functions are:
- Location tracking: Making use not only of GPS technology but also of GPRS and Wi-Fi networks, Find My Kids’ helps you track your child’s location wherever they are.
- Location history: you can also access a history of their movements or find out where they are at any given time.
- Geofencing: the app also allows you to set up safe areas in the map – once the child leaves one of them, you get notified.
- App usage data: If what you’re looking for is to track your child’s use of apps, Find My Kid’s got you covered here, too.
- Attention signal: Another useful function is the pick-me-up loud signal, which works even if the child’s phone is in silent mode. No more endless calling!
- SOS button: If the child needs to draw your attention, on the other hand, there’s a handy help button that will both warn you and display their location on the map.
- Live listening: Sometimes it’s not enough to know where the child is, which is why the app features one of its distinguishing features: live listening to the phone’s surroundings.
While the app offers many and varied functions, it is the developers’ professional attitude towards surveillance that sets it apart from the pack.
Among other things, it’s worth noting their helpful and ready customer support, their genuine concern for children’s well-being (which has won them the prestigious COPPA kidSAFE Seal Program) and the serious attitude towards privacy issues that characterizes their whole approach to tracking.
Not the least of the app’s advantages is its pricing system, which makes it one of the more affordable options out there. Currently, the app offers a free 1-week trial and three subscription alternatives:
- Monthly at $2.99 (for 1 tracked device)
- Yearly at $16.99 (for up to 3 tracked devices)
- One-time, permanent subscription at $25.99 (for up to 3 tracked devices)
After your free trial, you can choose to keep using the app’s free version, which will still allow you to see your kid’s location on the map.
As you can see, this is an app that really earns its top spot among the competition. Overall, and having in mind its available features, trustability, support, and price, we rate it a stellar 5/5.
If rather than looking to track one or two children, you are a bit more group-focused, then this may be the app for you. Life360 aims at keeping you in touch with all your loved ones, and it certainly gives you the whole toolbox for that: here you can create «circles», as groups of family and friends are called, and base your interactions on them.
Within these groups, members have access to their own private chat, can get notifications of each other’s comings and goings through GPS (Global Positioning System) technology and even be alerted in case the app detects a car crash involving someone from the circle.
As the app involves many people participating in any given group, prices can vary. That said, its main plans are as follows:
- Free: allows you only access to the app’s basic functions (Available globally)
- Plus: $2.99 (US only)
- Driver Protect: $7.99 (US only)
- 360 Premium: different prices according to the number of networks, etc. Available globally.
FamiSafe’s been getting great reviews for quite some time, and with good reason. It’s a solid tracker app which, besides allowing you to track a cellular phone’s location and showing a history of its movements around the map, also provides a range of other safety-related functions.
Among them, it gives parents considerable control over their children’s devices – which apps can be used, screen time limits, and so on. It also generates alerts every time a child’s phone comes into contact with something suspicious or age-inappropriate.
The app is not only available both for Android and iOS devices, but also provides cross-platform service: that is, if your phone is an Android and your kid’s is an iPhone, you can still make full use of its service.
FamiSafe offers great service, but isn’t one of the cheaper options available and has no free version other than a 3-day trial. Its pricing is currently as follows:
- Monthly: $9.99
- Quarterly: $19.99
- Yearly: $59.99
#4 Family Locator
Nowadays this app is found on the Play Store under the name Family Locator by Number, which can be a bit misleading. Like any other tracking app, the Locator requires you to either have physical access to the telephone to be tracked or to have the phone’s owner accept an invitation to join your network.
That said, the app deserves its fourth place: it offers all of the usual tracking features – among them real-time tracking, location history, and battery status info –, and it does so for free.
The app is free of charge. If you’re not willing to cough up a monthly subscription to track your kids around, the Family Locator might be just the thing. But remember: being free means ads. Lots of ads.
Something of a master-tracker, mSpy offers an absurdly vast range of tracking features: GPS phone location, calls, text messages, social media, the tracked phone’s gallery… in principle. it can take care of all that.
Of course, it comes with a catch, or a few of them: it’s not as easy to install, requires jailbreaking the targeted phone in order to access all of its functions and belongs to the costlier neighbourhood among phone trackers.
The app requires creating an account through their website and cannot be installed through either the Play or App stores. That said, it’s compatible with both Android and iOS devices if you know what you’re doing. In order to access some of its more advanced functions, it requires a jailbreak. If you don’t know what a jailbreak is, better stick to another option.
A little on the steep side, mSpy currently works with the following subscriptions:
- Android Basic: $8.33
- Android Premium: $16.66
- iOS Premium: $16.66
Another one for the whole family, Geozilla allows family members to track each other’s location and see what everyone’s been doing, and where. Of course, that requires everyone to download the app and be part of one family circle. If you want an app that puts all its users on an equal footing, this is the one.
- Monthly: $4.99
- Yearly: $49.99
Spyzie boasts a huge number of followers among the parental community, delivering on a range of fronts that again goes from tracking a phone’s physical location to accessing pretty much all of its apps and services. As such, the software can feel a bit invasive, which is why it doesn’t make it to the top of our list.
Although it’s available for both Android and iOS platforms, the app requires creating an account on its site and installing it in the target phone directly through .apk file, rather than going through the tried and true Play and App stores.
The app displays a range of different pricings according to period and range of functions made available:
- Premium, 1 month: $29.99
- Premium, 3 months: $39.99
- Premium, 1 year: $89.99
- Ultimate, 1 month: $39.99
- Ultimate, 3 months: $49.99
- Ultimate, 1 year: $99.99
#8 McAfee Safe Family
If you like your antiviruses everywhere, McAfee Safe Family may be what you’re looking for. In true antivirus form, the app can take control of virtually every aspect of your kid’s phone, even preventing them from uninstalling it from their phone. The app allows you to track the location of your kids’ cells and also brings the usual parental features to bear.
As should be expected, you can count on it both for your iPhone and for Android. The app can also be used for other devices such as smartwatches and Apple watches. Furthermore, you can even use it with Windows PCs – but not with Macs.
After a 30-day trial, you have to choose between the two subscription options:
- Monthly: $9.99
- Yearly: $99.99
#9 Google Family Link
Sometimes, all we want is that really familiar name that tells us who to trust. If that’s your case, you can give Google Family Link a try. Although it’s a bit bare of functions when compared to its wealthier colleagues, it does offer location tracking and app usage information – and for free. And who doesn’t love quality freeware?
The service is perfectly free, so there’s that in its favor.
Someone has to come last, but with 4.1/5 stars in over 80 thousand user reviews on the Google Play Store, it’s not hard to see that Zoemob is still a favorite choice for many. The question of why it is so popular can be answered by the app’s breadth of features and clean, easy-to-use design.
Similarly to Life360 and Geozilla, the Zoemob Family Locator is targeted at big groups, helping family members stay in touch, check out each other’s position on the map, send help alerts, and so forth.
The app works on a freemium model, with some functions available for free and others requiring an upgrade to be accessed. Their pricing chart isn’t available at the moment.
Each family has their own needs and wants, but we trust that everyone can find what they are looking for with one of the above ten apps. If you’re still in doubt, try not to overthink it and download the one that appeals the most to your subconscious – it’s likely to be the best one for your case.
Whatever your choice, remember that your child also has a right to privacy and to mobility that should be respected. Your relationship with your children can be improved or worsened by the way you deal with this, so talk to them and have them understand that you don’t want to invade their life – only to ensure their safety. For that, you can find more advice on this blog post.
So what are you waiting for? Time to start tracking and stop worrying! And while you’re at it, why not recommend this app to a friend in a similar predicament to yours? As they say, a friend in need is a friend indeed.
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