Track And Locate Your Lost Android Phone

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There are a handful of phone recovery or anti-theft apps on the Google Play Store which can be a lifesaver in case you lose your phone or, even worse, it gets stolen. But many people might only realize that there are such apps AFTER it got lost. Then it usually is too late and you have to face the ugly truth that the phone is gone for good.

To find an Android phone which you misplaced or (even worse) was stolen from you, it usually still needs a working internet connection in order to transmit its location. To get the best location results it should have an active connection to a WiFi network.

How to find your phone with Google and its own services

Find your lost phone using Google’s Find My Device (former Android Device Manager)

Requirements:

  • Your device is connected with your Google account.
  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • Allowed Find My Device to locate your device (turned on by default). This can changed in the Google Settings app.
  • Allowed Find My Device to lock your device and erase its data (turned off by default).

Find My Device is Google’s official and easy-to-use tool to track your Android phone or tablet. The best thing about it is that you don’t need to install an app to be able to track your devices. The only requirement is that your Android phone is connected to your Google account, turned on and connected to the internet. All you need to do is visit the Find My Device website while being logged into your Google Account. Once the site is loaded it will automatically try to track down your phone. If you have several Android devices registered, make sure the right one is chosen in the menu.

In a recent update, Google implemented some of the features into their search results page. This means that you’re able to quickly locate any registered Android device right from the search results. By using the search phrase “where is my phone”, Google displays a little map above the search results in which it will try to find your phone. Once found, you can let it ring by clicking on “Ring”.

Although this makes it more convenient to find your phone quickly, it won’t offer you all the options you get with the full interface of Find My Device.

By using it, you are able to track your registered Android devices, let your phone ring and wipe your phone’s data (which has to be enabled on your phone). Besides that, Find Your Device doesn’t offer more options to remote control your phone. I hope that Google keeps improving it and introduces more helpful features, such as taking a selfie of the person using it in case it got stolen.

If there’s no laptop around when you lose your device, you can also use someone else’s phone to track it. Instead of using the mobile browser, you can also use the Find My Device app. You can sign in using the guest mode and your Google account credentials. Now you should be able to track your lost device, let it ring or wipe its data.

Are you not able to locate your phone this way? This can happen for several reasons. The one you should hope for, is that your device is simply not connected to the internet or turned off. In that case, simply keep trying to track it until it (hopefully) connects to Google’s services again.

Use Google Location History – now called ‘Timeline’ – to track your lost Android phone (even if it’s turned off)

Requirements:

  • Your device is connected with your Google account.
  • Your device has or had access to the internet (before it was turned off).
  • Location Reporting and Location History need to be activated on your device (can be done in the Google Settings app on your device).

Unlike the Find Your Device tool, the Timeline feature of Google Maps doesn’t actually focus on tracking down a lost phone. You can use your location data for many different things such as looking up past travel routes. However, it is also a good way to locate your phone. As mentioned, if your Android device is turned off, you can use the location history data to identify the last recorded location. This means, even if your phone’s battery ran out you might still be able to find it.

Here’s what you need to do. Go to the Your Timeline (former Google Maps Location History) and make sure the current day is selected in the calendar. On the left sidebar, you can see a complete timeline of that day including the names all recorded locations. On the right, you can see all the locations visualized on a map.

Other than Find My Device, which also uses GPS for tracking, Your Timeline only uses cell tower IDs and Wi-Fi location detection to collect location data. This means that the accuracy can vary significantly. The advantage of Timeline is the ability to track your phone’s location frequently over a period of time. So even if someone stole it, you could identify often visited places, which could be the thief’s home or workplace. That might help you and the authorities to catch the person.

Use Google Photos to find your stolen Android phone

Requirements:

  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • Enabled ‘Backup & Sync’ option in Google Photos.
  • Someone needs to take pictures with your lost device.

In case your device actually got stolen, you might be able to find it using the backup and sync feature of Google Photos. If you activated this option in the app, then all images taken with your phone will be uploaded to your Google Photos account. Why is that good news? Well, not just the image but also the location where it was taken is uploaded. So, in case the thief didn’t log out of your Google Account and tried out the camera on your phone, there might be some new images popping up in Google Photos. Obviously, this only works if you’re phone has an active internet connection and if you gave your photos app the permission to use your location. Please be careful in case you are able to identify the location of your phone, which might very well be the home address of the thief. Don’t try to find it yourself! Use that information and call your local authorities to take it from there.

Assuming all those requirements are met, what do you need to do? Here it is, step by step:

  1. Visit photos.google.com and log in using your Google Account in which your Android device is logged into.
  2. Check if any pictures were taken after your device was stolen.
  3. If yes, then click on the image.
  4. Now, click on the info icon on the top right corner.
  5. In the appearing sidebar you can now see the image’s information including the located where it was taken.

Find your lost phone using these third party tools

Use Samsung’s Find My Mobile

Requirements:

  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • You need to have a Samsung account and your device registered with it.
  • Find my mobile needs to be set up on your Samsung phone (enabling remote controls).

If you have a Samsung device, you might be able to find your phone using Samsung’s own tracking service ‘Find my mobile’. For this to work, you need a Samsung account and registered your device before you lost it. So try to remember if you did that.

You did? Awesome. Head over and sign in to the Find my mobile website. Check the left sidebar and make sure that your device is connected to your account. Now, all you need to do is selecting ‘Locate my device’ in the sidebar and click on the locate button. If your device is online and remote controls is enabled, you should see its approximate location. Find my mobile also allows you to do other things such as locking your device, letting it ring with a message and wiping its data.

How to use Dropbox to find your stolen phone (Android & iOS)

Requirements:

  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • Activated “Camera Upload” in your Dropbox app.
  • Someone needs to take pictures with your lost device.

Dropbox can be your last resort if all other approaches don’t bring you any closer to finding your phone. For this to work, however, Dropbox needs to be installed on your phone and the “Camera Upload” feature has to be activated. This way, every time your phone’s thief takes a picture, it automatically gets uploaded to your Dropbox “Camera Uploads” folder. So, if he or she takes a nice selfie you might be able to identify the thief. And if you’re lucky, you can make out the location by looking at the background of the uploaded pictures.

Should that be impossible, simply start a blog and show the world all the pictures your thief has taken. There’s one funny tumblr page sharing images of Hafid, the guy who stole the phone of the blog’s owner.

So far, that’s the only way Dropbox can help you. Dropbox doesn’t give you the IP address of mobile devices which are connected to your Dropbox account. This is only possible for Desktop PCs and laptops until now.

I hope you are reading this just out of pure interest and not because you lost your phone! But if that’s really the case, I truly hope that this article will help you track it down. Either way, I recommend installing a good tracking app BEFORE your phone vanishes. An app I recommend is Cerberus, which is available on Google Play.

Install a tracking app to secure and find your phone in the future

Although Google’s own tools are probably the best options, there are a few third party tools we recommend. They usually offer more remote control features and can add an additional layer of security.

Cerberus (free with in-app purchases)

Cerberus is our top recommended tracking app which features a large selection of remote control options. This includes basic location tracking, secretly recording audio or video, taking remote pictures, triggering an alarm and wiping your data. There are a lot more options which make Cerberus the Swiss army knife or tracking apps. What makes this app even better are some of the more advanced features. For example, you can hide the Cerberus app in your app drawer which makes it harder to spot and delete.

In case you have a rooted Android device, you’re able to use a flashable ZIP file to install it on your phone. This way, even if a thief resets your phone back to factory settings, Cerberus will still be installed on your device.

Download Cerberus (free with in-app purchases)

Lost Android (free with in-app purchases)

Lost Android is quite similar to Cerberus and offers a lot of different remote control options including tracking your phone, wiping its data and taking pictures remotely. Don’t judge the rather basic look of the Lost Android website which functions as the interface from which you can locate and control your device. It does its job well and even the developer behind the app states on the site that he’s an engineer and not a web developer.

The installation is pretty easy. After installing the app via the Play Store, open it and give it device administrator permissions. Done. Should you lose your phone, visit the Lost Android website, log in with the same Google Account as on your phone and choose one of the available tracking features.

Download Lost Android (free with in-app purchases)  

Prey Anti Theft

Prey is known for it’s anti theft tools not just for smartphones but also laptops. The convenient thing about Prey is that it offers up to three devices you can track with their free account. Although it doesn’t offer as many remote control options as Cerberus, it covers all basic and most important features such as GPS tracking, taking pictures remotely and even scanning nearby WiFi networks for better tracking.

Download Prey Anti Theft (free)

Frequently asked questions

With the large number of questions people posted in the comment section, we figured it makes sense to address the most asked ones. That way, this guide is much clearer and you can focus on finding your phone instead of posting your question or sifting through the comments for an answer you’re looking for. The answers below might also bring some people back to reality, because in some cases it’s just not possible to locate a lost phone.

Can I still find my phone if it’s turned off / in airplane mode / the battery is dead?

This is a common scenario. Your phone is lost and its battery won’t last forever or a potential thief might have turned it off. What now? Except you’re working for the CIA, there no way to get in contact with your device. It needs to have an active internet connection to send its approximate location. However, you can use your phone’s location history to see where it was located before its internet connection stopped. For this to work, location history needs to be activated on the phone. If you didn’t do that, you don’t have another choice but wait and hope that someone turns it on and connects to the web.

I changed my Google account password. Can I still locate my phone?

Changing your Google password after you losing your phone is a totally logical thing to do right? You don’t want someone else have access to all your emails, drive documents etc. You can go ahead and change your password without losing the ability to track your device. Methods like Android Device Manager will still work. Shouldn’t you be able to locate your phone with ADM then I suggest you check the last recorded location using your phone’s location history.

Can I track my phone if someone made a factory reset?

That’s an easy one – No. As the name already implies, resetting a phone brings it back to its factory settings. The most important thing you need – connection to your Google account – won’t be there anymore. If you haven’t installed a tracking app with root access, such as Cerberus, then you won’t be able to locate it anymore.

Can I find my phone using my IMEI number?

Locating your phone with its unique IMEI number isn’t really possible. In some cases, the police can work together with a phone’s provider to locate it using its IMEI number. But don’t think you can just walk into a police station and expect them to do that. A more realistic thing you can do is to block your phone so that no one can use it to make calls, send texts or use the web. To do so, the best thing is to contact your provider.

By the way, you can find out your phone’s IMEI number by dialing *#06#. This code should work on most phones. Don’t have your device at hand?

Can I locate my device if someone changed the sim card?

Even if someone puts his SIM card in your phone, you might be able to locate it. Changing SIMs doesn’t disconnect it from your Google account, which is a good thing. It means that tracking tools like Android Device Manager or Android Lost should still work. The only needed thing in this scenario is that your phone keeps an internet connection.

My phone doesn’t show up on Find My Device. Why is that?

This can have many reasons. Your phone could be off, disconnected from the internet or your Google account. Keep in mind that changing your Google account password will automatically disconnect it from Google. Also, trying to locate a device with Find My Device doesn’t always work. I recommend that you keep trying to locate your phone every half hour or so. Your phone might have a bad connection or someone else turns it on and connects to the web. But if you changed your Google password, then Find My Device won’t be able to track it.

Do you still have unanswered questions? You’re more than welcome to post your question in the comments!

Things you should do ASAP if you find your device or end up getting a new one

We received a lot of emails, tweets and comments the last months from people that found their phone thanks to this article. Unfortunately, the majority of the readers isn’t that lucky. Either way, if you found your phone or plan to buy a replacement, you should be well prepared before something like that happens again. Below are two fundamental steps you should take to quickly track down your device should you lose it again.

Activate Find My Device and Location History

Make sure that both Find My Device and Location History are activated. Both tools can be a great help when you lose your device. With Find My Device you can track your device, make it ring and erase its data. Location history shows you the last recorded locations on a map. If someone stole it, then this could help you (and local authorities) to track down the thief’s home address, for example.

To activate both services, select “Google Settings” in your app drawer. Select Security and make sure both options below “Find My Device” are enabled. Now, go one step back and select “Location”. Click on “Google Location History” and turn it on. Now you’re able to use the tool to track your device and Location History to see its last recorded locations.

Set a lock screen pattern or password

Quite a lot of people already use lock screens to keep unwanted people from accessing private files like images, texts or videos. For some people, unlocking a phone countless times a day can be quite annoying, but it’s worth it. This extra layer of security not only keeps your friends and colleagues from secretly checking out your latest images or texts.

It also prevents thieves of changing any major settings such as disabling mobile data or disconnecting your phone from your Google account. As you learned, both a working connection to the web and a connected Google account are needed to get your Android phone’s current location.Have you been able to get back your mobile device after it got lost? How did you get it back? Share your experience with us in the comments!

Ref : http://trendblog.net/

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