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How to Find a Lost Android Phone – 6 ways to Get Your Phone Back

google phone on table with map

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

Explore the most innovative tracking features. Keep abreast of your child’s online activities with the cell phone tracker.

How Do You Track and Locate Your Android Phone? Let us show you how.

To find a lost Android phone usually still needs a working internet connection to transmit its location. To get the best location results, it should have an active link to a WiFi network. Whatever your situation might be, we’ll cover here the most common options as well as more out-of-the-box approaches to cover also edge cases.

  1. How to locate your lost Android phone using Google and its own services
  2. Find your lost phone using third-party tools
  3. Install a tracking app to find your phone in the future
  4. Answers to your burning questions

A valuable tool for tracking lost iPhones – mSpy!

Track the lost Android with ease.

There’s a tool used mainly for parental control but can help track down a lost iPhone. More than that, the software can be used to monitor SMS, calls, GPS locations, routes, WhatsApp messages, etc.

So, for example, if you have it active and misplaced your iPhone, or it got stolen, you can use the app to follow the GPS location or route your iPhone passed after the last time you saw it.

I used the app myself to see how it works, and I need to say, it’s terrific. You can use it for literally anything, and it gives your iPhone’s location precisely. Furthermore, information is updated every 5 minutes, meaning that you will get an accurate site or if the device was switched off the closest possible one. So if you are looking for something simple to install and have no worries about your iPhone, mSpy is your app.

Find Your Phone with Google and its own services.

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

Requirements:

Find My Device is Google’s official and easy-to-use tool to track your lost Android phone or tablet. The best thing about it is that you don’t need to install an app 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. Then, all you need to do is visit the Find My Device website while logged into your Google Account. Once the site is loaded, it will automatically try to track down your lost 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. For example, 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 lost Android phone. Once found, you can let it ring by clicking on “Ring.”

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

By using it, you can 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 lost 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 gets 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.

Download Find my Device App by Google LLC by clicking here.

You can sign in using 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 lost Android 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 Timeline to find your phone even if it’s turned off or the battery is dead

Requirements:

Unlike the Find Your Device tool, the Timeline feature of Google Maps doesn’t actually focus on tracking down a lost phone. Instead, you can use your location data for many different things, such as looking up past travel routes. However, it is also an excellent way to locate your lost 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. First, go to the Your Timeline (former Google Maps Location History) and ensure the current day is selected in the calendar. Another way is to go straight to Google Maps, opening the sidebar and selecting ‘Timeline.’

On the left sidebar, you can see a complete timeline of that day, including the names of all recorded locations. On the right, you can see all the places 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 while. 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 location info to locate your phone.

Requirements:

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 activate this option in the app, 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 your lost phone has an active internet connection and if you gave your photos app permission to use your location. So, please be careful if you can identify the location of your lost Android phone, which might very well be the thief’s home address. Don’t try to find it yourself! Instead, 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 in the top right corner.
  5. In the appearing sidebar, you can now see the image’s information, including the location where it was taken.

Find your lost phone using these third-party tools

Use Samsung’s Find My Mobile

Requirements:

If you have a Samsung device, you might be able to find your lost phone using Samsung’s own tracking service, ‘Find my mobile.

Get it here

For this to work, you need a Samsung account and register your device before you lose 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 select ‘Locate my device’ in the sidebar and click on the locate button. If your device is online and remote controls are 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 lost phone (Android & iOS)

Requirements:

In case your device is stolen, Dropbox can be your last resort if all other approaches don’t bring you any closer to finding your lost 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 they take 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? For example, 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. Unfortunately, Dropbox doesn’t give you the IP address of mobile devices 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 genuinely 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 a Lost Phone in the Future

Although Google’s own tools are probably the best options, we recommend a few third-party tools. 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 hidden pictures, triggering an alarm, and wiping your data. There are a lot more options that 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, making 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 someone else resets your lost Android phone back to factory settings, Cerberus will still be installed on your device. For more info on that, check out our article on Cerberus.

Download Cerberus (free with in-app purchases)

Lost Android (free with in-app purchases)

Lost Android is quite similar to Cerberus and offers many different remote control options, including tracking your lost 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 straightforward. 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 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 its 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 essential features such as GPS tracking, taking pictures remotely, and even scanning nearby WiFi networks for better search.

Download Prey Anti Theft (free)

Frequently Asked Questions

We figured it made sense to address the most asked questions with many people posted in the comment section. 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 solutions 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 lost 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 is 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.

–> Google Maps location history guide

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

Changing your Google password after you lose your phone is a totally logical thing to do, right? You don’t want someone else to have access to all your emails, drive documents, etc. So 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 locate your phone with ADM, I suggest you check the last recorded location using your phone’s location history.

–> Find My Device guide

–> How to use Google Maps location history to find your phone

Can I track my lost 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 – a connection to your Google account – won’t be there anymore. If you haven’t installed a tracking app with root access, such as Cerberus, you won’t be able to locate it anymore.

Can I find my phone using my IMEI number?

Locating your lost Android phone with its unique IMEI number isn’t really possible. The police can work with a phone provider to find it using its IMEI number in some cases. But don’t think you can just walk into a police station and expect them to do that. A more sensible thing you can do is 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? Here’s how to find the IMEI without having the phone.

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 something in this scenario is that your phone keeps an internet connection.

–> Find My Device guide

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 lost 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 track it.

–> Locate your lost phone using Find My Device

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

Thanks to this article, we received many emails, tweets, and comments from people who found their lost phones in the last few months. Unfortunately, the majority of the readers aren’t that lucky. Either way, if you found your lost 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. So if someone stole it, this could help you (and local authorities) track down the thief’s home address, for example.

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

 

Set a lock screen pattern or password

Many 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 pretty 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 from changing significant 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 is 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.

Note: In case you’re actually missing an Apple device, head over to my guide on how to track a lost iPhone or iPad. For Windows phones, check out this post.

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