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Handy, fast, free: Network tools for your iPhone and Android phone

Jan 29, 20198 mins
MobileNetwork Management SoftwareNetwork Monitoring

Downloadable network analyzers, remote access apps and testing utilities turn your iPhone and Android smartphone into powerful network tools.

mobile smartphone wireless iot virtual network
Credit: Getty Images

A smartphone can be a key part of a network troubleshooting toolkit.

When maintenance is required, network pros most often make changes from a desktop PC or laptop. But an iPhone or Android phone can be just as powerful. The right apps can turn a smartphone into a diagnostic asset that lets you scan networks, remotely administer systems and more.

There are tons of network utilities that you can download from the Apple App Store and Google Play store. We’ve zeroed in on a handful of standouts that have the highest ratings, most downloads and approval of the pros.

Fing network scanner

Fing is a multipurpose tool. It’s a network scanner that finds and lists devices connected to your office LAN or Wi-Fi network, and you can see information about them, such as device name, IP address, MAC address and manufacturer. Fing (available on the App Store and Google Play) has a step-by-step guide to help you diagnose and fix issues with your network. For security purposes, you can have Fing alert you when a device connects to your Wi-Fi network.

fing network app Fing Limited

Fing can identify connected devices, troubleshoot network and device issues, and detect network intruders.

It has several more tools, including: an analyzer for services on Bonjour, NetBIOS and UPnP; DNS lookup and reverse DNS lookup; internet connectivity checker; ISP analyzer; ping; port connector (browser, FTP, SSH); port scanner; subnet scanner; traceroute; and Wake On LAN.

Fing is free, and you can use it on its own, but it’s also designed to work with an optional device, Fingbox, that retails for $100. It provides additional tools to let you do more in-depth analysis and security: block devices from your network, measure signal strength of your Wi-Fi network, secure your Wi-Fi network by monitoring nearby devices and troubleshoot issues with your network’s internet connection.

Price: Free 

Developer: Fing Limited

VNC Viewer remote-desktop access

There are several remote desktop apps that let you use your iPhone to access and fully control a server or another computer on your office network. They work similarly: You download and install client software on the computer or computers that you want to be able to control over the internet. You set a login for each computer. Finally, you install an app on your iPhone that you use to sign in to your computer. The connection between your iPhone and remote computer is made. You then see the desktop of your remote computer on your iPhone and can interact with it by using the touchscreen to move the computer’s mouse cursor.

LogMeIn (available on the App Store and Google Play) is one of the highest rated options in this category, but it’s also one of the priciest, even for individual use (LogMeIn starts at $350 yearly). It’s meant and priced for the enterprise. It allows you to connect to your remote computers that are running macOS, Windows or Windows Server (Linux is not supported). When you play a video file on your remote computer, it’s able to stream it to your iPhone with audio and up to high-definition resolutions. The LogMeIn app has file and photo managers to help you easily transfer these items to and from the remote computer.

VNC Viewer (available on the App Store and Google Play) is a free alternative that’s also highly rated. It supports connecting to remote computers running Linux (which includes SUSE Enterprise, CentOS/Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu), macOS, Windows, Windows Server and also Raspberry Pi devices. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support streaming of audio playing from your remote computer, but this probably won’t be important if you’re connecting to your server to do network maintenance.

Price: VNC Viewer is free, and a premium version starts at $40 yearly

Developer: RealVNC 

Network Analyzer

Network Analyzer (available on the App Store and Google Play) is a simpler tool than Fing. It’s designed to do what its name describes: analyze and test your office network. The user interface clearly depicts its three functions. First, Network Analyzer quickly scans all devices found on your LAN or Wi-Fi network and lists their IP addresses and names. It supports Bonjour, DNS name, LLMNR and NetBIOS. Second, you can ping to test the reachability of devices found on your network and ping host domains.

network analyzer Jiri Techet

Network Analyzer is an iPhone and Android app for network analysis, scanning and problem detection.

The third part of the app breaks out network details, such as your connection’s default gateway IP, DNS server IP, and external IP for IPv4 and IPv6. For your Wi-Fi network, the SSID, BSSID, IP addresses (IPv4 and IPv6) and subnet mask are listed. Information for cell networks show up here, too, including IP address, network provider, MCC and MNC.

Network Analyzer Pro (available on the App Store and Google Play) offers additional tools and advanced features, and it’s a more visually engaging tool than its free counterpart. The Pro scanner comes with the ability to scan a range of IPs and Wake on LAN functionality. Its more sophisticated ping tool shows graphical statistics updated in real time. The paid version also includes DNS lookup, an internet speed tester, a local service discovery on Bonjour or UPnP/DLNA, port scanner, traceroute with map visualization, and WHOIS lookup. Overall, Network Analyzer Pro is comparable to Fing if you’re willing to pay.

Price: Network Analyzer is free; Network Analyzer Pro is $4

Developer: Techet

Speedcheck Internet Speed Test and Speedtest by Ookla

There are a lot of internet-speed test apps that measure the download and upload speed of your network’s internet connection. That may seem simple and not worthy of mention, but a good, easy-to-use and trustworthy speed test app is handy to have among the ensemble of network tools that you can pull up on your iPhone. So which one is worth downloading?

The most popular in this app tool niche is Speedtest by Ookla (available on the App Store and Google Play). It gets the job done capably when you need to test your current internet speed. 

speedtest Ookla

Speedtest by Ookla tests the speed and performance of internet connections.

A strong and highly rated competitor to consider is Speedcheck Internet Speed Test (available on the App Store and Google Play).

Like Speedtest, Speedcheck presents download and upload speed results as line graphs and saves a history of previous speed tests so that you can refer to them later. In Speedcheck, you can also add comments to test results, and it has a calculator that you can use to estimate how long a file transfer may take. Another tool it includes is a Wi-Fi signal finder. This app’s file size is also smaller than Speedtest (66.4 MB verses 76 MB).

Price: Both are free. Users can opt to remove advertising for a fee that ranges from $1 to $3.

Developers: Frederik Lipfert (Speedcheck) and Ookla (Speedtest)

Termius SSH client

Termius (available on the App Store and Google Play) brings a full-featured command-line terminal for Mosh, SSH and Telnet sessions to a smartphone. You can access Linux and IoT devices through it, connecting to several hosts or making multiple connections to a host. Most connections or services can be encrypted through port forwarding and tunneling. Your identities and keys are saved in a Keychain section of the app, and other keys can be imported in ext, OpenSSH or PPK format.

Termius features multitasking and a split-view interface. You can customize the UI of terminal sessions and organize them into groups to conveniently access later. There are 12 themes included with varying colors and adjustable fonts. Another convenient customization lets you pair credentials and servers for quicker access.

When you subscribe to Termius Premium, you can sync your settings and credentials across your devices using Termius, protected with AES-256 encryption. You can create a user account to backup and sync these onto the Termius developer’s servers. Access to your credentials can be protected through Face ID or Touch ID.

The paid version also includes an SFTP tool with a drag-and-drop, two-pane interface. Helpful UI functions make entering commands easier on the touchscreen; these include an autocomplete feature, saving snippets of common shell commands and running them across several servers at once, and secure pasting of passwords.

Price: Free. Premium version costs $7 per month or $60 per year.

Developer: Crystalnix Limited