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, although you may be a bit late if you’re searching for this after you lost your phone. 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!
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 Google’s Find My Device
This should be the first thing anybody with a Google-enabled Android phone does. Unlike most, the Find My Phone app 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), Find My Phone 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, Find My Phone can ring, lock, and wipe your phone for you.
Click here to visit the Find My Phone 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 Find My Phone.
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. Believe it or not, that does work sometimes. Sometimes reaching out and letting the other person know that you plan on taking action can scare them into returning the phone somewhere. Send your own phone a text or phone call from someone else’s phone (a friend or family member). Whoever has your phone 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. You never know when you 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 launch a full investigation for every stolen smartphone.
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. That locks up your accounts tightly. It’s not much, but it’s one less thing to worry about. Some devices, like Samsung phones, have a function that erased all of your user data when your password is entered in wrong too many times. We recommend enabling that as soon as possible.
Get a WearOS smartwatch
Okay, so this is more of a preemptive idea. Google’s WearOS (formerly Android Wear) connects your phone to your wrist at all times with a Bluetooth connection. The neat thing is that your watch will go nuts when you lose connection with your phone. Thus, you get updates almost immediately as soon as you walk away. Additionally, there are Find My Phone apps for WearOS devices. They let you ring or vibrate your phone. Thus, when you lose your phone, your watch freaks out and when you re-establish a connection, you can make your phone freak out to find it. Many can’t figure out a lot of reasons to have a smart watch. This is one of the good ones.
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.