MSpy for Android Review

MSPYBANNERFINAL

In this Mspy review, we test the Mspy Premium spy app for Android. Mspy are a very new entrant to the spyphone market, and not much is known about their products capabilities.

As we do with all our competitors, we tested Mspy’s product to see if there was anything we could learn from them, while simultaneously  sharing our test results with the public so that they could decide for themselves which spyphone software is the best suited for their needs.

Overall Comments And Competitive Threat Level

The following table shows our main notes, about how much of a competitive threat Mspy provide to FlexiSPY, with one star meaning that they can technically be ignored and five stars meaning that they could cause serious problems with our business.

 

themspyandroidtestresultsfinal

 

 

Mspy Android SpyApp Test Summary feature list

Mspy vs FlexiSPY feature list

Mspy vs FlexiSPY feature list

Mspy advertises 28 features on their web site, though we found many of these either missing or would not work correctly. Chat programs like Facebook, Skype, Viber and WhatsApp only report the text part of the message. Stickers, status messages, pictures and attachments are not captured, and there is no threaded view, making it difficult to follow conversation.
The popular LINE and WeChat applications are not supported by Mspy.

Mspy has no options to remotely control application settings like on-demand GPS locations or delivery timers. These options are extremely useful when spying on subjects who are very suspicious and aware of their device performance.

Fixed settings invariably mean detection by subjects on pre-paid or limited data plans.

Mspy does provide the ability to choose WiFi or 3G which could address the data problem, but this has to be traded against the need to wait for when, or if the target ever connects to Wi Fi. FlexiSPY  automatically uses WiFi when available, or default to 3G when not.

Mspy does include features not designed for spying, such as restrictions of phone usage and URLs where the user knows and agrees that Mspy will control their device. This is not a useful use case for FlexiSPY and not seen as a competitive advantage

The current version of Mspy for Android does not have the ability to create  Alerts of keywords or GPS locations, which means that the user needs to manually analyze every event to see if its of interest.

 Mspy advertises 28 features on their web site, though we found many of these either missing or would not work correctly.

 

Mspy's Phone Management feature

Mspy’s Phone Management feature

Mspy has limited options to remotely control application settings like on-demand GPS locations or delivery timer. If available, these are extremely useful when spying on subjects who are very suspicious and aware of their device performance

This would be noticed by subjects on pre-paid or limited data plans. Mspy does provide the ability to choose WiFi or 3G which could address the data problem, but this has to be traded against the need to wait for when, or if the target ever connects to WiFi.

Can you remotely control Mspy without their phone?

Mspy does include features not designed for spying, such as restrictions of phone usage and URLs where the user knows and agrees that Mspy will control their device. For this use case, having Alerts of keywords or GPS locations would be very useful, but these are not available on the Android version of Mspy.

Remote control features include:

  • Sending commands from both the Dashboard as well as some SMS commands.
  • A partial phone wipe can be accomplished this way, as can changing several of the configuration settings.
  • Creating an Ambient Recording is done by creating a ‘to’ and ‘from’ date and time, complete with hours and minutes.

The instructions for this are confusing as there is a complex rule about sending the command within a specific period before the actual recording time.

There is also room for error as we couldn’t confirm which clock was being used. It’s possible this might work if the rule is followed exactly, but it’s not as easy as simply sending a command to begin a recording.

Can you find Mspy on the phone once it is installed?

Attention can be drawn explicitly by the application displaying an icon or appearing in a task manager, or implicitly by affecting performance such as draining the battery, sending excessive data which exceeds data plan limits, or other non-discreet performance issues.

On a non-rooted device the software installs using a discreet name, but will always be visible under the Android’s main Apps > Manage Applications menu, along with all other installed apps.

It can also be stopped from here or uninstalled at any time.

A pop-up notification often appears from the SuperSU application after Mspy has been installed.

 Mspy being caught as Surveillanceware

Mspy being caught as Surveillanceware

On a rooted device no icon for the software appears in the main Apps Drawer or the App Manager, but the non-descript app name does appear under the list of downloaded

applications. As a measure against uninstalling, it cannot be uninstalled without removing “Device Administration” from the security settings menu first, which is configured by Mspy during installation.

However, this can be done by anyone looking at the Device Administration menu as there is no special code or knowledge required. Though the app carries a discreet name it is clearly listed, and in most cases will be the only app listed in this menu.

Lookout Antivirus (version 8.24) also flagged the actual process name that Mspy uses, and classified it as “surveillanceware”.

Does Mspy cause an increase in battery?

We used “Battery Monitor” and “Data Usage” to monitor these resources, both available from the Android Play store.

We ran a series of usage tests during a set period of time, which included typical activities most people carry out on a smartphone.

This consisted of phone calls, web browsing, sending and receiving IM’s, streaming video, taking pictures and creating videos. We tracked the same use over the same duration of time both with and without Mspy installed.

Considering the consistent type of activities, the battery impact was not extreme and probably to be expected.

However, Mspy’s data use created more of an impact.

The total data generated from our online activities was roughly 300 megabytes, although data use with Mspy installed accounted for 815 megabytes of total data transferred.

The total excess data is over 500 megabytes in that case.

battery-usage-chartfinal

 

We can expect the amount of data uploaded by Mspy itself to be at least the same amount of data actually captured.

If Mspy is efficient in capturing and reporting, that total figure should be around 600 megabytes of data.

 

 Our data tests indicated Mspy data use was only around 50% efficiency, with an extra 215 MB data added to the reference payload of 300 MB.”

 

However, we tracked an additional 215 MB over the original captured amount of only 300 megs. If Mspy generates an additional 215 MB of data for every 300 megs captured, that is a discrepancy extreme enough to consider a resource hog.”

Do Mspy support staff really solve problems?

Support is provided by Live Chat or email tickets. Live chat is advertised as 24 hours, although we found that Customer Care was sometimes offline.

Other times after answering our chat, we waited long periods for each response from the support staff. Trying to ask several questions or hold a normal conversation this way might take an hour or more, if you have patience to wait 5 or 10 minutes for each answer.

At $199.99 for a year of Mspy’s Premium service, FlexiSPY’s Premium 1 year service is about $50 less and offers numerous additional working features.

Email replies came back generally within 24 hours, although none of our issues were ultimately resolved. When we asked about features not working such as picture and video capturing, Email tracking, Skype and other Instant Messengers, we were always told to reinstall the software.

This requires getting the Target phone back into your hands, as installing can’t be done remotely. Although reinstalling did not resolve our issues and no further suggestions were ever offered.  Many of the Mspy features failed to work consistently during our review.

Basic capturing was reliable in general, but the cost of excessive data also makes Mspy a liability in terms of stealth or suspicious operation, and potentially depleting the monthly data plan or affecting the balance owed on the Target’s monthly service. Support was also slow to respond and sometimes hard to reach.

This might be forgiven if they could have resolved our issues, but despite the fact that we had a supported phone that was correctly rooted, reinstalling was the only advice given and this  just didn’t work.

Mspy Competitor Threat Level: 2 out of 5

What version of Mspy was tested?

Product Tested: Mspy Premium for Android
Binary Version: 4.3.1
Binary Size: 2.7MB
Phone: Google Nexus 4
Phone OS: Android (Rooted)
Phone OS Version: 4.2.2

The nearest equivalent FlexiSPY product is FlexiSPY Premium priced at $149 USD.

Read our full review to learn more about Mspy for Android

Author: Marc Harris

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