Finding your stolen smartphone is much easier than it used to be. If your Android smartphone ever gets stolen or lost, finding it can be as easy as using Google.com. Simply Google “Find my phone” and the search result will throw up a map and attempt to locate it. Like this:
Once you locate your smartphone on the map, you can trace its current location. Be careful if you choose to go after a thief. Personal safety is key.
You can ring up the phone too – in which case the phone will ring out. This is ideal if you just do not know where you placed the phone or if you suspect that the thief is still within the vicinity. If you select the “Recover” option, you get further options. You can remotely set a password to lock the screen, sign out of the phone, or erase it to keep contents secure.
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To Be Able To Find Your Stolen Smartphone
There are requirements for this to work though:
- Your smartphone’s GPS or location access has to be turned on
- you need to be signed in to your Google Account
- the stolen smartphone must still be turned on
- your stolen smartphone must have an active internet connection, be it mobile data or Wi-Fi
- the stolen smartphone must have been linked to Google by you
Using Android Device Manager (now Find My Device)
If your smartphone is not linked to Google (step 5 above), you can still find it if it goes missing or gets stolen. Just visit android.com/devicemanager and sign into your Google account. Android Device Manager (Find My Device) will show you the approximate location of your smartphone. Android Device Manager (Find My Device) gives you options to go after it using maps, make it ring out or if absolutely required, wipe/erase it.
If you have another smartphone available, you can install the Android Device Manager (Find My Device) app on it and use it to locate your stolen smartphone. Note that Android Device Manager (Find My Device) will only work if your stolen smartphone is turned on and has an active internet connection as well.
Important: You can use Android Device Manager (Find My Device) to make your phone ring out, to lock it or erase it without your location access turned on. But it won’t be able to find the phone. If you want to be able to find your stolen smartphone using Android Device Manager (Find My Device), you need to keep the phone GPS or location access turned on.
A Strong Case for Location Access
More and more, new helpful smartphone features require that users leave their location access turned on all the time. There are arguments about the pros and cons of this in terms of privacy. But it is looking more and more like the average smartphone user who wants to get the best out of their devices will have little option but to leave their location turned on.
For one, without location access turned on, forget about using any software to find your stolen smartphone. Once stolen or lost, you might as well forget about it and move on.