Lost your phone? Well you’re not alone. Everyone who’s relied on any mobile phone has experienced losing one or, at the very least, felt the scare of misplacing it for a few hours. During this time, you want nothing more than to get it back, either by tracing your steps or by hoping that, by some miracle, the phone makes its own way back to you.
The good news is the mobile phone industry has caught up with this common problem and has made it possible for people to reunite themselves with their lost phones or tablets. If it’s a phone that runs on either Android or iOS, chances are you can take steps to track down and eventually find your phone, wherever it is.
Major smartphone manufacturers like Google and Apple have come up with technology aimed at retrieving lost and even stolen smartphones. These are usually in the form of apps and accounts that are associated with your device. For Google, this would be your Google account while iPhone users will be using their iCloud accounts. Through this setup, you’ll be able to remotely control your phone, allowing you to make it ring or even lock it or wipe its contents. You can even send a special message alert to your phone for whoever finds it.
Perhaps the only limitation is that these features will work only if your smartphone still has power. Once the misplaced device runs out of batteries, you have as much chance of finding it as any other misplaced item (i.e. your keys or wallet).
Note: In any case, make it a point to always exercise caution when contacting any person who claims to have found your phone. Try not to give out any personal information (i.e. home address) until you can confirm that the person you’re dealing with is trustworthy. Usually you only need to give the person your phone number or email address to help him return the phone to you.
With that said, here’s how you can trace your phone back depending on your operating system.
Finding your Android Phone
Of course, Google provides its own service for this as well, but that doesn’t mean that its the best option out there. Android is rich with all kinds of third-party apps that will help you find and access your device remotely. You can find and download them off the Google Play Store.
Find My Device
One good app to work with is Find My Device, which also happens to be one of the easiest to use because it’s directly built into your device via the Play Store. It’s also available for all phones on Android 2.3 or later. To use it, you just have to type “Where is my phone” and the service will start. With the service, you’ll be able to remotely access your phone and do things like make it ring or set up a new password.
Find My Device will use a Wi-Fi or GPS connection to track down your device. However, it helps that you configure the service ahead of time. You’re also going to need to verify your smartphone with the app, which you can do by going to Settings > Google Services > Security and turning on “remotely locate this device.”
Factory Reset Protection (FRP)
Since Android 5.0 (Lollipop), Google offers Factory Reset Protection (FRP), which is its own way of helping smartphone owners wipe the content of their phones in the event that they can’t be found anymore. This function of last resort is a good way to keep sensitive information in your mobile device from falling into the wrong hands. In case the phone has been stolen, this will also prevent the phone from being sold to another person. You’re going to need an internet connection though, and hopefully your device still has enough power to run the process.
Note: Exercise caution when using third-party apps when tracking your phone. Make sure the apps you’re downloading are reliable and won’t make matters worse for you. When in doubt, try to use the apps or services that are endorsed by Google.
Finding Your lost iPhone
Unlike Android phones, where there are third-party apps that you can use to track your phone, iPhone users will have to rely on Apple’s Find My iPhone feature. It’s pre-installed on every device that runs on iOS. To be able to use this service, you’re going to need another iOS device or a computer that also has this app as well as an internet connection.
To start using the feature, log into the iCloud using your account. Once you activate the Find My iPhone feature, the Apple service will track your phone down through a map. You will then be given the choice between making your phone to play a sound, erasing its contents, or even making it go into “lost mode,” where you can send a message to the phone for those who find it. Each of these functions come with special configurations.
Of course, the service can also track down any designated iPod, iPad, or Mac. It has, in fact, been used by the police to find stolen devices.
Another interesting feature is the Activation Lock, which can be used to protect your phone’s contents in case of theft. Using your Apple ID, you can access functions like enabling or disabling Find My iPhone, wiping sensitive information, and the chance to reverse these settings.
Nobody ever wants to lose their phone, especially if it’s an expensive smartphone. But beyond the financial loss, it can be such a hassle and, in some cases, a security risk. Of course, it goes without saying that you should always be careful with your belongings, especially smartphones, given how much we rely on them nowadays. Hopefully, you’ll never have to resort to any of the remedies above, but it pays to know about them beforehand.