Smartphones are an integral part of our lives. We are so much dependent on our smartphones for nearly everything that we do, it is nearly impossible for us to imagine the world where we’d have to operate without a smartphone. To top it off, the most widespread fear in humans currently is that of phones – Nomophobia. The word literally means fear of losing cellular contact. 6 out of 10 people freak out when they realise their phone is nowhere to be seen, 3 get highly nervous and only 1 person out 10 people are rather oblivious to that feeling.
But worry not! Your phone may be lost, but there are ways to find it out. A lost phone can be tracked and located. People have been losing things since the dawn of the time. Right from their clothes, to lunch boxes and now phones. While some things cannot be traced back to where they came from and where they went all of a sudden, software developers have been working day and night to make sure your lost phone lands safely back in your hands again should you ever happen to lose it.
Every company has some or the other way to tell where your phone is or was seen the last time. Let’s take a look at how you can track your phone in case it is lost:
Android lets you find your phone out using your Google account. All you need to do is log into your account. The feature is available on all Android phones today. Nearly every Android device comes with a feature called ‘Find My Device,’ earlier known as Android Device Manager. The service allows a user to track their device using the phone’s location services. In the event where you can’t see your phone anywhere, you may simply open a browser from your laptop or another mobile and search find my device using google search. From there, you can track where your phone was last seen and also lock it and erase all data remotely.
However, there’s a precondition to it. The service must be enabled beforehand. I.e. if the service wasn’t enabled on your phone when it was lost, you can’t track your phone.
To enable the service, follow these steps on your Android phone:
Step 1. Enable Find My Device
- Go to Settings
- Tap on Security
- Tap on Device Administration
- Go to Find my Device
- Enable the Service. If already enabled, great news!
Step 2. Change location mode to high accuracy
- Return to Settings and go to Location.
- Find Mode and change it to High Accuracy.
Step 3. Switch location history on
- Return to the previous menu i.e. Location
- Tap on Google Location History
- Switch Location History on.
That was about enabling the service on your phone. Once that is done, you can log in to your google account from anywhere in the world and locate your phone anywhere in the world.
However, be warned you have a limited time window before you can look for it. I.e. if the phone is turned off, you will be able to see the last location of the phone and that may/may not be the current location. Unless the phone is stolen and the thief keeps charging your phone regularly, you always have a limited time frame to locate your phone.
Here’s what you do when you want to locate your phone with tracking enabled:
Step 1. Open any browser on any computer/phone.
Step 2. Do a Google search for Find my Device Android. Look for this link:
Step 3. Go to the above link or bookmark it, as suits you.
Step 4. Follow the web page that opens login to your google account.
Step 5. The opened web page will show you the last seen location and time of your phone.
The opened web page allows you to do three things now:
Ring your phone for five minutes: The phone will start ringing with your ringtone even if it were on silent mode. If you are where the phone’s location is shown, you should be able to hear the sound of your phone and locate it.
You may lock the phone and set a message asking the finder to contact you so that you may get your phone back. In case some good Samaritan finds your phone, they may see the information displayed on the phone and contact you to retrieve your precious device.
Erase all data completely: Use this option if you are certain your phone has been stolen and the one who stole it might corrupt/steal your confidential information. This will do a remote hard reset on your phone. In case you find your phone after some time, you’ll have to re-login into the device.
In case of Apple Phones, there’s only one hope for you to find your lost iPhone – the Find My iPhone service! Using the Find My iPhone app, you can track your iPhone in real time, control any misuse of your device, lock it etc.
To enable the service on your iPhone, you must install the app from the iTunes Store. Once done, simply register your phone with the app and the service will be enabled.
Follow these steps to enable Find My iPhone
Step 1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
Step 2. Tap on your Apple ID at the top.
Step 3. Go to iCloud.
Step 4. Scroll down and tap Find My iPhone.
Step 5. Tap the switch to enable it.
Once that’s done, you will be able to track your phone, locate it, ring it etc. so that your lost device can be retrieved.
Follow these steps to start tracking your iPhone.
Step 1. Open any browser on any computer/phone.
Step 2. Open iCloud.com.
Step 3. Log in to your account using the Apple ID credentials.
Step 4. Go to Find iPhone from the main menu.
Step 5. Enter the credentials again, if prompted.
On the map, click on All Devices at the top and select the device that you want to track.
Once your phone has been tracked, you can then choose to do any of three actions:
Play Sound – Your phone will start ringing at full volume, irrespective of whether it is on silent/vibrate etc. If you find out that your phone is somewhere in the house you can get help from someone to locate the phone and/or track it yourself hearing the sound.
Lost Mode – In this mode, your phone will be locked and will be rendered virtually unusable to the one in possession of the device. You can enter a number to contact you so that a finder can return the phone to you. Meanwhile, the phone cannot be used for any texting or calling. In case you had your Apple pay configured, all payments using your phone will be declined while Lost Mode is on.
In case there’s no response and the phone is still on the move, it is very much possible that it was stolen and not ‘found.’ You can then get local law enforcement to help you get your phone back. As a matter of precaution, don’t try to get your phone back on your own, if there’s a good chance of theft.
Erase – This will completely erase all of your data and reset the phone. Use this option if you think it is no more possible to get your device back. This will help you protect yourself from any further damage, and not let confidential information fall into the wrong hands.
In case you haven’t kept the Find My iPhone option open, there’s a very good chance you’ll never be able to get your device back; Also you won’t be able to wipe out your data. Precaution is the key. Use the service by Apple to keep your iPhone reachable always.
When it comes to finding your lost phone, Windows is not behind the world. Windows too, like Android and iOS, has a service called Find My Phone. You can track and find your phone using this service from Microsoft.
Setting up the Find My Phone in Windows is easier than in Android and iOS.
All you need to do is:
Step 1. Go to Settings.
Step 2. Tap on Find My Phone.
Step 3. Tick Mark both the boxes.
Using push notifications instead of SMS serves well in case your carrier charges you money for SMS.
The second box will keep storing the last known location of your device from time-to-time. So that while tracking your phone, it will keep sending you real-time data about the whereabouts of your lost device.
Finding a lost Windows phone is simple too:
Step 1. Open any web browser.
Step 2. sign in to https://www.windowsphone.com
Step 3. In the My Phone menu, go to Find My Phone.
Step 4. A dialogue box will open. Follow the instructions there.
This is a one time process and you can do it in advance i.e. while you still have your phone with you. This will save time when you actually lose your device.
Step 5. Start tracking your phone from anywhere in the world.
Just like Android and iOS, Windows allows three actions that you can undertake once the phone has been tracked successfully.
1. Ring: Your phone will start ringing at full volume so that it is clearly audible to anyone around. If you’re trying to find your phone inside your home itself, this is the best course of action. The phone will keep ringing, whether or not it is on Silent mode till you stop it.
2. Lock: Once you lock the phone, it will stay locked until you unlock it. You can even display a personalised message with a password that you’ll be using to unlock your phone.
You can put a phone number for the finder to contact you in case your phone is lost.
3. Erase: If all hopes of getting your phone back are gone, erase all the data from your phone, including account information, passwords, credit card information etc. using this option. This will protect you from getting any more damage being done to you.
This was about the services provided by the makers of phone operating systems. In case you don’t find them enough, there are third-party options that you can always opt for:
Here are two of the most useful ones from various app-stores:
Family Locator: This app lets you and your family members locate each other in real-time. You create a ‘circle’ with all the member involved. You can even chat with the members of your circle, and your family can always see where you are (or rather your phone is) at any given moment. This way, you won’t get lost in the amusement park and can also track your phone using your family members’ phones in case you lose it.
- Real-time location of your family members
- Create safe/unsafe zones
- Location history
- Real time tracking
Availability: Android, iPhone and BlackBerry
Where’s My Droid: Similar to Find My Device service, this app uses the phone’s GPS and location service to locate your phone. Whenever lost, you may lock the phone and set up a passcode to unlock it. The one in possession of the phone will not be able to anything with the phone, and get a message continuously saying that the phone is lost or stolen and return it to the owner. The app is free with in-app purchases; the pro version lets you erase all the data from your phone remotely.
- Remote Lock
- Theft Detection
- GPS Flare
- Cerberus anti theft: One of the most popular anti-theft apps around, Cerberus allows you to do everything that Find My Device service allows for. As an added advantage, the app even lets you access your camera to see who’s holding your phone. As you track and locate your phone, you may start an alarm in your phone and catch the thief right away.
- Locate devices on map
- Start alarm
- Lock and Wipe data
- Take pictures of the thief
- Backup your data
- Android Wear support
- Remote Unix-like shell
Prey: This app is the most advanced of them all. The app can be installed on the phone and controlled from a PC, meaning anyone trying to change the app settings will not be able to do so, simply because the option is not present on the phone. The app lets you track, lock, reset the device from anywhere in the world.
- Track & find your devices
- Data Protection
- Map Geolocation
- Coordinates precision
- Camera Control
- Silent Screenshots
- Prey Report
- File Retrieval
Another cool feature is that in case your phone’s data networks are turned off, all you need to do is simply send an SMS to your device with the app from another PC. The app will detect the SMS and send you the coordinates of your phone right away, silently switch data and location on and you can start tracking your phone.
Availability: MacOS, Linux, iOS, Ubuntu, Android, Windows (PC & Phone)
Phone loss is something that affects us seriously. Also having your phone stolen is a serious threat to not only your prized device but also to the confidential information stored on your phone. Having your phone trackable and secured is always a great idea. Using these platforms, you can not only ensure that you get your phone back when it goes missing but also protect your privacy should it happen that you must say goodbye to your phone forever. Good luck protecting your phone.