Here is my PhoneSheriff Investigator review – a relatively new release from Retina X Software (the makers of Mobile Spy. I have tested this program and I thought it was about time I shared the details and cleared up a few questions about this monitoring application.
Important – December 2014 – Phonesheriff Investigator Withdrawn!
Phonesheriff was provided by the makers of Mobile Spy and in their latest shakeup they have withdrawn the product – it is no longer available.
The Good News! – mSpy have just released a similar product, bundled for free with their regular monitoring software. It works exactly like Investigator did – you can have the same level of monitoring when you know the Apple ID of the target phone – Without Jailbreaking! Read about it on my mSpy Review.
Mobistealth have also now released their No Jailbreak version. Lots of options now – even without Jailbreaking! Check my Mobistealth reviews here.
First off to avoid any confusion this review is about PhoneSheriff Investigator Edition – you need to be careful when reading about and buying this program as they have a regular PhoneSheriff program which is similar to MobileSpy – where the app is installed directly onto the cell phone or device you intend to monitor. The Investigator edition is a PC software program and works in a completely different way.
You can check out their website here for a full run down.
What is PhoneSheriff Investigator Edition?
It is a computer software program which allows you to monitor Apple devices – iPhones, iPads, iPods etc. – ONLY Apple, not any other make. Because it is installed on your PC you can monitor the phones or devices without having to Jailbreak them. This is huge as so many people avoided using monitoring apps as they required a Jailbreak. It is primarily aimed at monitoring your kid’s cell phones and devices.
Now from the start be clear – this is not an app to install onto the phone, the software is installed on your laptop or PC running Windows. It is not remote install software! The software program allows you to monitor the phone activity through the Apple iCloud service – you will need the users Apple ID and Password. It is a computer software program, not a cell phone app – hence, no Jailbreak is needed.
This program will only monitor Apple devices – no Android or BlackBerry phones etc. The licensed program you buy can only be installed on one PC or Laptop but you can monitor multiple devices through the one installation – great news if you need to monitor all your kids or employees.
- An iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch running any version of iOS from 5.x and up
- The device needs to be backed up using iCloud (Apple Cloud storage – free to sign up with an Apple ID)
- The user’s Apple ID and password (you must have this)
- PC or Laptop running Windows Vista, 7 or 8 (no XP support)
- Any internet connection
The PhoneSheriff Investigator Edition is sold as a single lifetime license – no recurring payments, just a onetime fee.
What Can You Monitor?
The program works very differently to regular cell phone spy software but it can monitor many of the same activities. Here is a list of what you can monitor:
- Text Messages – sent and received, logs and read the actual messages
- iMessages – read all messages sent and received through the iMessage service
- Call History – detailed logs of all calls
- GPS Locations – location of last backups on a dedicated map (limited and not in real time)
- Photos – all photos stored on the target device
- Contacts – list of contact details on the device
- Safari Bookmarks – only works on the Safari browser and no web browsing history
- Notes – any notes saved on the device
- Account Details – list of all the account details
As I have said, this works very differently to regular phone spy software and so your monitoring functions are limited in some ways. It can’t really compete with the full, real time features of regular monitoring apps like Mobile Spy or Flexispy – BUT it is a useful alternative if you can’t or won’t perform a Jailbreak, or regular apps will not work for you for any reason. Keep that in mind – It is an alternative, if nothing else will work.
How Does PhoneSheriff Investigator Work?
It is very easy to get started with no technical knowledge whatsoever.
- Make sure the target device is signed up and using iCloud (you can do this)
- Buy and install PhoneSheriff Investigator on your PC or laptop
- Sign in using the Apple ID and password
- View the data and logs on your PC/laptop
The program uses Apple’s own cloud backup solution, iCloud. It is a free (up to 5 GB) backup and storage service for Apple devices – you simply register for a free Apple Id with password and install iCloud on the phone/device. The device then syncs with iCloud and stores everything – photos, messages, call logs etc.
Many Apple users already have this set up, in which case you must have their Apple ID and password – if not, you can set it up yourself on the target phone – with their permission! There will be no software on the target phone but they will know they are being monitored – keeping you legal!
With iCloud up and running, the device will sync with iCloud once a day or whenever the phone is connected to Wi-Fi – using the target phone you can also sync manually at any time through the iCloud app.
So, in simple terms – PhoneSheriff Investigator will pull the data from the iCloud account and you can view all the details on your PC. It does not actually connect to the phone or device itself – just the backup details. It is quite clever but it has limitations.
The updating of the information is the weakness in this set up. Obviously if the phone is only syncing once a day, you will only see the call logs and texts etc. after they have been updated. So not exactly up to the minute reporting – and the GPS will only show locations where the phone updated, not where the phone has been through the day.
The other obvious drawback is needing the Apple ID and password. This is why this program is best suited to monitoring your children, where you have their account details. Also works great for company cell phones – and your employees know they are being monitored.
I have been using and testing this product for a few months now and it works well – exactly as they describe. The company behind it are established players in the market with an excellent reputation – quite rare with monitoring software!
It will be a very popular solution for many parents – really easy to use, no Jailbreaking (which puts many people off regular monitoring apps on the iPhone).
Coming from a background of regular monitoring software, the limitations are very apparent to me but for many this will be enough to keep tabs on their children. Don’t expect it to have all the fancy features of spy software – it shouldn’t be compared to apps installed on to the target phone – and don’t mistake it for a remote install spy app – it is not!
It really is only suitable to monitor your children’s or possibly employees cell phones and devices – due to needing access to the Apple ID.
Think of it as a good way to keep a regular check on how your kids are communicating and with whom. It isn’t going to give you the intensive monitoring available with regular apps but it is much easier to set up and manage. If you don’t want to Jailbreak the iPhone/iPad, this is really your only alternative.
Don’t compare it to regular cell phone spy software – the two are miles apart.
The software is priced at $79 for a lifetime license – great value and remember you can monitor multiple devices. They also have a limited Trial version so you can try before you buy. The trial does not require your credit card information but is limited to displaying 10 records of each log type or 7 days maximum – great to get a look at how this works before committing to buy
Below are a few answers to questions you might have – trying to head them off in the comments!
- Only works on Apple devices – iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch (iOS 5 and above)
- No Jailbreak is required – the program is installed on your laptop or PC (running Windows Vista, 7 or 8)
- Must have iCloud on the target device – free for up to 5GB, can pay for more
- Must have the users Apple ID and password
- ID’s and passwords are safe – no third party access, only your PC
- You can monitor multiple devices on one PC or laptop – no extra cost
- Onetime fee – no monthly/yearly upgrades – that’s it!
Thanks for reading!