Do you feel something has changed in your phone, but you don’t remember doing it yourself?
Did you give your password to someone and now suspect they went through your phone?
Did you leave your phone unlocked and now fear someone went through your phone?
Has your partner brought up secrets they shouldn’t have known during a separation or divorce proceeding?
All of these can be signs that someone went through your phone. How can you find out if your suspicions are true?
In this article, we’ll discuss 11 ways you can tell if someone snooped around in your phone and present a few apps to detect intruders.
We’ll also give you tips on how to protect your privacy and how you can lend your phone safely.
How To Know If Someone Went Through Your Phone (11 Ways To Tell)
If the intruder is sloppy, they may leave a few clues in your phone’s recently used apps, call history, and messages.
You can also check the phone’s browsing history to see if the intruder viewed any web pages on your phone.
If you suspect someone has used your phone without your permission, confront them to find the truth and the reason behind their actions.
Let’s discuss 11 ways to detect an intrusion.
1. Recently Used Apps
To check if someone went through your phone, you can check the apps that have been recently used on your phone.
If you don’t remember using the app, it can indicate someone else has been on your phone.
Different phones have different settings to view the recently used apps.
For some devices, holding the home button shows the open apps.
For others, it might be a different button.
The intruder can clear the entire history of recently used apps with a single press.
A clear history can be a red flag itself, but you can follow these instructions to find further proof:
On Android devices:
- Open Settings.
- Tap Digital Wellbeing and parental controls.
- Tap the large horizontal bar to open the list of the apps that have been in use in the last few days and for how long.
On the iPhone:
- Open Settings.
- Tap Screen Time (besides a purple hourglass icon in square shape).
- Select See All Activity to see a list of Most Used apps of the day and the week. You can tap each app to see its usage time.
Some Android devices offer another way to view recently used apps, even if the history has been cleared:
- Open up the dial pad.
- Dial *#*#4636#*#* to open a hidden testing screen.
- Click on Usage Statistics under the Testing screen. This will show a list of apps.
- Sort the information by Usage Time.
- Now you can see which apps have been open on your phone and how long.
Note: This trick works only on Snapdragon chipsets and some Mediatek devices.
You can also track recent activities in each app to detect the footprints of an unwelcome visitor.
For example, apps like Netflix and YouTube let you look back on what has been viewed on your account recently.
2. Installed Apps
If someone went through your phone, they might have installed unwanted apps.
Check the list of apps on your phone and look for apps you don’t remember installing.
Both Android and iOS let you easily view installed apps via the Settings dashboard.
On the iPhone, you can also see the recently installed apps from the App Library.
Sometimes these apps are harmless, but other times, they might be spyware.
If you find suspicious apps installed on your phone and you’re not using an antivirus, contact a professional.
3. Call History
Although unlikely, sometimes the intruder might have made phone calls using your phone.
Check your call history for unknown numbers or contacts you don’t remember calling.
You can also check your phone’s contacts for names you don’t recognize.
If there’s anyone you suspect the intruder has called, you can ask them if they’ve received strange calls from you.
Search your phone and social media for opened messages you don’t remember reading.
The intruder might have sent messages with your phone or deleted some of your messages.
Sometimes they try to log into your messenger apps on their own phone. In that case, there might be activation codes in your inbox.
If the intruder hasn’t deleted those messages, they can be a sign someone went through your phone.
Open your email client and check if there are emails in your sent box you didn’t send or if there are read emails you didn’t open.
Also, check the drafts folder.
The intruder may have started an email and got interrupted.
Open your phone’s gallery app to see recent photos.
You might find photos you haven’t taken.
Alternatively, you might see photos that have been deleted but not by you.
The latter situation is likely when you have photos of someone without their permission.
You can figure out who gained access to your phone based on which pictures have been deleted.
7. Social Media
Check your social media accounts for unknown activities.
See if there are updates on your feed you haven’t posted or messages sent without your knowledge.
Sometimes the intruder contacts your network through your social media and asks for sensitive information or even money.
Therefore, it’s very important to track any strange activity.
8. Recently Viewed Web Pages
Your browser history can also give clues as to whether someone went through your phone.
Check your browser’s history for pages you didn’t open or open pages that are gone now.
To see the recently viewed web pages on Chrome for Android:
- Open Chrome.
- Tap the three dots on the top right of the browser.
- Choose History.
To see the recently viewed web pages on your iPhone:
- Open up Safari.
- Tap inside the address bar.
- Tap the book icon.
- Open the History tab under the icon that looks like a clock.
Check any other browsers on your phone, too.
For example, Samsung devices come with a default browser that almost no one uses.
It can be a great tool for someone to poke around with your phone.
9. Android’s Notification History
Another useful place to check for clues on your Android phone is your Notification History.
You will likely find traces of what the unwelcome visitor did.
To view your notification history:
- Go to your phone’s Settings.
- Tap Notifications.
- Open your phone’s Settings.
- Tap Digital Wellbeing and parental controls.
- Tap the time you spent on your phone (on top of the page).
- Check Notifications received.
- Tap on each app to see details.
10. Changed Biometrics
If someone has been going through your phone regularly or plans to repeat it in the future, they might have changed the biometrics.
Check for added or changed fingerprints or face recognition on your Android phone:
- Open your phone’s Settings.
- Go to Biometrics and Security.
- Check Fingerprints and Face recognition.
And here’s how to check if someone has added an Alternate Appearance to your iPhone:
- Open Settings.
- Go to Face ID and Passcode.
- Enter your Passcode.
- Check if there’s the option called “Set up an Alternate Appearance.” If there isn’t, an alternate appearance has been added to open your phone.
11. Ask Them
If there’s someone you’re suspicious of, you can simply confront them without being aggressive.
They might not tell the truth, but they’ll know you’ve found out and probably won’t go through your phone again.
Also, if you think your partner’s trying to spy on you due to unreasonable doubts, talk to them and reach an agreement.
Apps To See If Someone Is Snooping On Your Phone
Fortunately, you can protect your privacy with a few simple apps, and maybe even uncover the identity of your intruder.
1. Hidden Eye
This app will photograph unwelcome visitors trying to unlock your phone and invade your privacy.
You can set it to play your ringtone when someone tries to unlock your phone without your knowledge.
It needs permission for:
- Front camera: To take pictures.
- Vibration: To send notification alerts when someone enters the wrong password.
- Internet: To display ads.
- Storage: To store captured images on your phone.
If your gallery is synced to Dropbox, the captured photos will also be accessible through Dropbox.
Sadly, this app is only available for Android. iPhone users have to look for another option.
This app takes a photo of anyone who tries to unlock your phone using the wrong password.
It sends you the intruder’s photo and your phone’s current GPS location via email.
Lockwatch helps you discover if someone went through your phone and locate it if it’s stolen.
Its data privacy and security practices may vary based on your use, region, and age.
According to its developer, this app doesn’t share user data with third parties.
Your data is encrypted in transit, and you can’t ask the developer to delete your data.
This app is also only available for Android.
3. Best Phone Security
This app lets you set a PIN code and a security alarm to notify you when someone tries to unlock your phone behind your back.
Use its alarm on your phone when in public or around your sneaky friends.
When they know you have an advanced alarm, they won’t dare touch your phone again.
This app may collect and link your location, device ID, product interaction advertising data, and performance data to your identity and use them for third-party advertising and analytics.
Best Phone Security is only available on the App Store for the iPhone and iPad.
This app also captures the intruder’s face when they try to unlock your phone.
You can see the reports in the report tab inside the application.
It also has an anti-theft feature that will go off if the locked phone is lifted from a horizontal surface.
You can set the alarm tone and timer in the app’s settings.
This application is available for both Android and iPhone.
5. Mobile Security Lookout
Lookout is the only all-in-one mobile security and antivirus app that protects your data from viruses, malware, spyware, and personal data theft.
It’s available in two versions: Basic and Antivirus & Security Premium.
Lookout Basic continuously protects your data against viruses, locates your device, and makes it sound an alarm even on silent.
It automatically saves your device’s location when the battery is low.
The premium version has all the features of the basic plan plus other functions.
It sends an email with a photo and location of your phone whenever it detects suspicious behavior that could mean your identity has been stolen.
It also lets you remotely lock your device and erase your data if your phone is in the wrong hands.
This app is available on Android and iPhone devices.
How To Prevent Your Phone From Being Snooped
If you don’t protect the data on your phone, people can invade your privacy or even steal sensitive information from your phone.
Below, we’ll discuss five ways to prevent your phone from being snooped on:
1. Use A Strong Password
A hard-to-guess password is the easiest way to protect your data from unwelcome visitors.
Don’t use your date of birth, phone number, or other passwords people can easily guess.
Instead, pick a password you can remember, as losing your password can cause other problems.
Also, never punch in your password in front of others.
2. Never Leave Your Phone Unlocked And Unsupervised
Your strong password won’t be of any use if you leave your phone unlocked somewhere people can easily access it.
Always lock your phone before leaving the room.
Even better, take your phone with you.
3. Don’t Give Your Phone To Others
By giving your phone to people you don’t trust, you’re inviting them to go through all your information.
Sometimes, you may even trust the person, but you don’t want them to see the sensitive data on your phone.
Be in the room when they have access to your phone.
Also, turn off your notifications so that they don’t accidentally see your private messages.
4. Don’t Leave Your Phone To Be Charged In Public Areas
If you leave your phone in public areas, such as coffee shops and restaurants, people might see you enter your password and go through your phone when you’re not around.
It can also increase the risk of your phone being stolen.
5. Use Security Apps
Install security apps that take a picture of anyone who tries to unlock your phone without your knowledge.
Some of these apps ring when someone uses the wrong password to unlock your phone, and this can prevent the intruder from repeating their attempt.
As mentioned above, Hidden Eye, WTMP, and Lookout are excellent options to consider.
How To Safely Lend Your Phone
Sometimes a stranger comes to you on the street and asks if they can borrow your phone to make a call.
Android and iOS devices have built-in features that restrict what others can see on your phone even when unlocked.
Below, you can find ways to share your unlocked phone with someone without the risk of them going through your phone.
You can pin an app to the screen so your guest can’t go anywhere else on your phone.
To turn on app pinning on your Android device:
- Open Settings.
- Tap the option that includes Security (it might vary depending on your phone’s brand).
- Go to the Advanced section (it might be under Other security settings).
- Turn on App Pinning.
To pin a screen:
- Open the app you want to pin.
- Swipe up to the middle of your screen (or tap the Recents button at the bottom left of the screen.)
- Tap the app’s icon at the top.
- Tap pin.
- Read the instructions on how to unpin and tap OK.
To unpin the screen:
Hold the recent and back buttons simultaneously.
You’ll be prompted to enter your password or pattern before the screen gets unpinned.
Depending on the device, use one of these options before you enter the password:
- Gesture navigation: Swipe up and hold.
- Two-button navigation: Touch and hold Back and Home.
- Three-button navigation: Touch and hold Back and Overview.
The Guided Access feature on iPhone works like Android’s screen pinning and restricts guests to just the apps you choose.
However, if they know your password or have their fingerprint or Face ID registered on your phone, they can gain access to other parts of your phone.
To set up Guided Access:
- Open Settings.
- Tap Accessibility.
- Tap Guided Access.
- Turn on Guided Access.
- Choose whether you want to allocate a passcode or use Touch ID or Face ID to unlock the mode, and set a time limit if you want.
To pin one app on the screen:
- Open the app you want to pin to the screen.
- Triple click the side or Home button (depending on your iPhone model) to open the accessibility shortcut menu.
- Tap Guided Access and select the area you want disabled. (You can delete the gray field by tapping the X on its top right or resizing it by touching and dragging its corners.)
- Tap Options to disable or enable certain options and set time limits.
- Click Start.
To end Guided Access:
- Triple click the Side or Home button.
- Enter the passcode or use Touch ID or Face ID.
- Tap End.