So you’ve lost your phone. We’ve all been there. It was just in your pocket a minute ago — and now it’s gone, lost to the phone fairies, forgotten between the seats of your couch, or misplaced somewhere during your busy day. Maybe it’s just in your other coat, or maybe it’s already in the hands of someone who found it on the sidewalk. Either way, all you want to do is get it back.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to get a hold of your missing phone. If it’s a smartphone (or even a tablet) running iOS or Android, chances are good it already has the software needed to hunt it down — or there’s an app you can install to track your phone.
Find Your Smartphones
If your lost phone happens to be a smartphone, the major platform providers (Apple and Google) include phone retrieval technology in their smartphones. These apps work through the account associated with your device. For Android devices, this is your Google account, and for iPhones, this is your iCloud account. Both allow you to remotely lock and wipe your phone, make it ring, and set up special messages to alert whoever finds it. Find my Device by Google, Find my iPhone by Apple and Prey are some apps that can help you find your phone or delete and encrypt sensitive information remotely.
Most of these apps require the same basic requirements to work: your phone must be connected to the internet, your location must be switched on and the app must have the requisite permissions. Another option is to use Bluetooth or GPS trackers even though these are more useful if you have lost your phone in known surroundings or at home.
Of course, these features are only as good as your phone’s battery. If your smartphone dies, it’s about as easy to find as your wallet or anything else you might misplace.
If you can’t find your smartphone, you can always wipe it to prevent sensitive information from getting into the wrong hands. Your device will need an internet connection and enough juice to communicate with you. In Android 5.0 Lollipop, Google also introduced Factory Reset Protection (FRP). It’s designed to prevent would-be thieves from being able to steal your phone, wipe it, and then use it or sell it. If you factory reset a phone with FRP enabled and try to set it up as a new device, you’ll be prompted to enter the username and password for the last Google account that was registered on the device, and if you can’t, the phone will remain locked.
There are also third-party apps that you can install to help you find your phone. Prey Anti Theft is a great app that offers remote access and control, allowing you to obtain more information regarding the whereabouts of your phone. It provides a number of additional features, such as more granular control on how you track your device, GPS coordinates, MAC address, photos from the camera to possibly catch the would-be thief, and other, more detailed notifications that Find My Device doesn’t offer.
Losing a phone, be it from theft or an honest mistake, is a stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Just install a ‘find my phone’ app on your phone so that you can track it if it gets lost or stolen.