Find My Phone
Losing your smartphone is one of the most frightening experiences in the modern age. You have your contact information, your personal information, your personal pictures, and possibly even financial data on there. It’s a treasure trove for thieves and other malcontents. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to recover your phone. We can’t stress enough that the best method of protection is prevention. Having a system in place really helps this situation. However, there are some ways that you can find it even without preventative measures. Here are the best find my phone apps and other find my phone methods too!


Android Device Manager

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Android Device Manager is probably your best option for find my phone apps. It's completely free, baked into most modern phones, and it's easy to activate. Simply go into your phone settings, find Google, click on Security, then Services, and make sure the Remotely Locate This Device option is enabled. That's it! From that point, you can use Google's web apps to find your phone, lock it, ring it, and more. Virtually everybody should have this enabled which makes ADM the go-to method for finding a lost phone. Please note, it only works if the GPS is on so make sure to enable your location! The good news is that this feature should be enabled by default. That means it should be your very first step in retrieving a lost or stolen phone.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Android Device Manager

Family Locator

Price: Free with in-app purchases
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Family Locator by Life360 does exactly what the app name says it does. It allows you to create a collective with your family and friends and then you can keep track of where they are via their smartphone. As you can imagine, it helps recover smartphones if someone loses them. The upside is that you can control who can find you or your phone. The downside is that this app is a people locator, not a device locator. Thus, it doesn't have some popular find my phone apps features like device locking or wiping. Still, it's a good, simple option, especially for parents.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY

Cerberus

Price: Free with in-app purchases
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Cerberus has long been the name people think of when it comes to find my phone apps. It has a diverse set of features that includes locking and resetting your phone, sounding alarms, displaying messages on screen for thieves to read, and it even has access to the front facing camera so you can take a picture of the thief. You can also hide Cerberus from the app drawer so people don’t suspect that it’s there, remote shell into your device, and record audio from the mic. The developers have had their ups and downs in recent years, but the app itself works about as well as it always has.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY

Pre Anti-Theft

Price: Free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Prey is an app that’s been around for a while that many people trust. Its entire purpose is to help you find your phone if it goes missing. However, it is also more lightweight than something like Cerberus. It has the basic features like finding your phone, locking your device, and setting off an alarm. You’ll also be able to take pictures to see where your device may be and gather network information to see where your device has been. It seems to work for most people and that’s what really matters. It's not all that different from Android Device Manager and may function well as a backup to that. It's also completely free
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY

Find my phone apps from carriers

Price: Varies
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Most major carriers (at least in the US) have find my phone apps that you can use. Generally, the services cost money that gets added to your bill every month. However, in exchange, the carriers will help you find your phone. We can confirm that the four major US carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint) have services like these. They cost a varying amount of money. However, if you called a customer service rep (like we did), pretty much all of them recommend Android Device Manager anyway. What makes these decent options is that you'll be able to call your carrier and they'll actually be able to help.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY

Bonus: Manufacturer apps

Price: Free (usually)
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Some manufacturers, including HTC and Samsung, have find my phone features built into their OEM skins. Generally, you have to sign up for an account through the company. You can then use that account to find your phone. The services are usually free and the phone will usually prompt you to set these accounts up when you first turn on your phone. However, you can do it at almost any time. We know a lot of people don't like OEM skins, but this is one of those features that's nice to have, even if you dislike Touchwiz. There isn't a list offhand that shows which manufacturers have this feature built-in. That means you'll have to see if your phone has it yourself.
DOWNLOAD ON GOOGLE PLAY
Bonus: Manufacturer apps


find my phone

Other find my phone methods

Okay, so your phone has been stolen and you didn’t have any of these apps installed and set up. That’s not good news. However, there are still a few additional things that you can do to try to get your device back.


Seriously, try Android Device Manager

This should be the first thing anybody with a Google-enabled Android phone does. Unlike most, the Android Device Manager is built directly into Google’s Android. That means those with an Amazon Fire phone or some other non-Google device won’t have this option. Unless we missed something (or if your OEM disabled it for some reason), Android Device Manager should be enabled by default for most people. Thus, as long as your location is enabled, Google should be able to find your phone. Even if you don’t have location enabled, Android Device Manager can ring, lock, and wipe your phone for you.

Click here to visit the Android Device Manager website to try to track down your phone. You’ll need to be logged into the same Google account on the computer as you are on your phone. You can also click here to learn more about Android Device Manager.


Try all the usual stuff

There’s a certain rigmarole that comes with losing a cell phone. Without any sort of system or app in place, your best bet is to do the same old stuff. Call or text your phone to try to reach out to the person who might have it. Or, if it’s just lost, you might be able to hear it ringing or vibrating. Sometimes reaching out and letting the other person know that you plan on taking action can scare them into returning the phone somewhere. Even if your phone is locked, perpetrators can still answer phone calls. Unless you have them disabled, notifications can also show up on lock screens without unlocking the phone (on devices running Lollipop or higher). Thus, there is a line of communication that you can try to take advantage of.

Additionally, you can retrace your steps to see if you left it somewhere. Check lost and found bins or customer service desks at stores you visited. Head back over to your friend’s house to make sure it’s not stuck in the couch. Go back to where you parked to make sure it didn’t fall out of your pocket when you got out of the car. We understand you’re upset and a little frazzled, but it’s important to keep a calm head and make sure you’ve covered all the bases. It’s a lame suggestion, we know, but we’re trying to cover all of the bases here.


Report your phone lost or stolen

You should definitely report your phone lost or stolen. Doing so will blacklist the ESN or IMEI of your phone and that makes things difficult for the thief. Most carriers won’t touch a phone with a bad ESN/IMEI number. This dramatically reduces the value of the phone. Plus, the phone will cease to operate as normal so the thief won’t be making phone calls, texts, or surfing Facebook on your dime. Short of leaving the country or making dramatic hardware modifications, the phone is useless unless the thief intends on using it as a WiFi only device at home. A thief may try to activate your phone, see that they can’t, and just leave it there and walk away. It’s not something that happens often, though.

The FCC also recommends reporting the theft to the police. That way you have documentation that proves the cell phone was stolen in case you ever need that. Additionally, with the ESN or IMEI number in their possession, the police would be able to return your device if they happened to find it. Don’t get your hopes up, though. The police aren’t going to pull a CSI over a stolen cell phone.


Change your passwords immediately

This one goes without saying. Your phone remains logged into your Google account, Facebook, and potentially even other apps. Thankfully, most banking apps log you out after a period of time or after you close the app. Still, it’s good practice to change the password on every account you had logged in. That way, the thief doesn’t get access to all of your personal information. Those with Google’s two-factor authentication will effectively lock a thief out of every Google service immediately after a password reset.

You’ll also want to deauthorize your device. Here’s the link for how you can do that with your Google account. Some apps, like Spotify and Netflix, allow you to sign every device out of your account from their web version. Do this for as many services as you can. Even if your phone can’t be found, the accounts will be locked up tight.


If we missed any of the best find my phone apps or other find my phone methods, tell us about them in the comments! To see our complete list of best app lists, click here.

Joe Hindy
Hi everyone! I'm Joe Hindy the Android Authority app guy!
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