How to find a lost or stolen Android phone
If you’ve fallen victim to a lost or stolen Android phone – don’t worry! There are a number of steps you can take to get your smartphone back into your hands. From third party applications to simple security methods that are already built in to your Android device, today we’re going to walk you through some of the most successful methods you can use to find your mobile device.
Before we get into ways you can find your device, we’re going to talk a little about what you can do to keep your data safe when your phone is found by a stranger.
First and foremost, you’ll need to set up a security code for your device’s lock screen. This is one of the easiest steps you can take to help your data stay safe.
On most Android devices, you can access your security settings by going to Settings>Security>Screen lock, and from there you can choose which security method you’d like to use. You can choose from a Pattern, PIN or Password on most devices, and some Android phones will even let you gain access by facial recognition.
To take your lock screen one step further, you’ll want to set up a lock screen owner message. You can access this setting (on most Android devices) by heading to Settings>Security>Owner info. From here, you can choose to display your name, email address or any other form of contact on your lock screen. This is a simple step that could really help you out in the long run, so get to it!
Android Device Manager
On all Android devices that come with Google Play Services is a handy little tool that can allow you to remotely locate, lock, ring and erase your smartphone with just a few taps. Many devices come with this feature enabled out of the box, but you’ll want to double check to make sure you’re secure.
Note: Our own Jonathan Feist wrote a very detailed walkthrough on how to use Android Device Manager, which you should check out if you’re interested in getting the full scoop on this service. For now, though, we’ll give you a brief overview on how to set up Android Device Manager and perform some of the basic functions.
For starters, you’ll need to download the Android Device Manager app from Google Play. Once it’s installed, you need to make sure the Device Manager is enabled as a device administrator. To do so, head to Settings>Security>Device administrators, then hit the check box to grant Android Device Manager access to your device.
Now that you’ve enabled Android Device Manager, here’s how to use it in case of an emergency.
If you’ve lost your phone and have ADM enabled on your device, it’s pretty easy to keep your data safe. If you have access to a computer, visit google.com/android/devicemanager, then sign in to your Google account associated with your Android phone. From here you can track where your Android device is located, which will definitely come in handy.
Okay, so what if you lost your Android smartphone in your house? Tracking it by location probably won’t help you here, but there’s another nice feature built into ADM that will help you find it. From the Android Device Manager page on your computer, simply press the big Ring button, and your phone should begin to blare, even if it’s in silent mode.
If you’re still not sure the location of your phone, there are a few more extensive options you can take to keep your data safe. If you think you’ll be able to retrieve your phone eventually, you can remotely lock your device with Android Device Manager. From the website, click the Lock button, then choose your new password and any message you’d like to display on your phone’s lock screen. Once you press Lock, your phone will go into lockdown mode, keeping the thief out of your device.
If all hope is lost and you’re still nervous about your personal information getting into the wrong hands, there’s one more method you can take. Android Device Manager will allow you to remotely perform a factory data reset on your device. Keep in mind that this should be used as a last ditch effort to keep your data safe – you won’t be able to retrieve any information that was once on your device if you recover it.
Just like the other options, simply press Erase, confirm your selection, and your Android device will begin erasing.
Android Device Manager is a handy tool that can help in some instances, but there are still a few more services you can implement to ensure your device stays safe.Related: Having issues connecting to devices via Android Device Manager? You’re not alone
Try a third party application
If you don’t think using Android Device Manager is worth your while, there are a few other third party options you may want to consider. For starters, Lookout can not only track your phone by location, but will also send you an email of a photo taken by the front-facing camera if someone tries and fails to enter in your passcode five times. You’ll need to pay a premium fee if you’d like to get the more robust features from Lookout, though for some users, it may be worth the price.
AirDroid is also a great option, boasting the usual location tracking and remote wiping features as most other apps. With AirDroid, though, you’ll be able to do much more than that, as it gives you the ability to transfer photos and documents over the web through your AirDroid account. It will even let you access your device’s front-facing camera in real time to see if someone is using your phone.Related: 7 best Android apps to transfer files from Android to PC and other ways too!
Not only does Cerberus perform all of the usual “find my phone” features, it also lets you take it one step further by letting you record audio from the microphone and giving you much more detailed tracking information than most other apps offer. Cerberus is one of the most robust tracking applications available in the Google Play Store, so if you’re nervous about your phone getting lost or stolen, this is the one you should try.
Last ditch effort
If you’ve lost your phone and haven’t set up any of the above services, you might be thinking all hope is lost. But it’s not – there are still a few ways you can recover your phone. Calling your phone is a simple and effective way to track your phone, no matter if it’s in your house or far away. Even if you have some lock screen security set up, whoever has your phone will now have the ability to answer it if it rings.
With that said, sending a text to your phone can also be helpful, but less so as the user will still need to somehow bypass your phone’s security to read the whole message. So if the user isn’t responding to your calls, try sending a short text message to your phone, such as “If found, please contact [email address]”. Thanks to Lollipop’s ability to display notifications on the lock screen, you should be able to get your message across in most cases.
If you have any other suggestions on how to track or recover a lost or stolen Android device, we’d love to hear them! Let us know what you think in the comment section below.