Recently, someone sent me a message in which they asked, “I want to track a mobile number’s location. The missing phone has no GPS. How do I track the number?”
I can imagine a number of scenarios in which one may need to track a mobile phone number. For example, if your child has a feature phone and has been unreachable or is missing. A missing smartphone with the GPS/location service turned off is another case in point.
In the above cases, tracking the mobile number is the only option you have. You have probably heard of GPS tracking, which is popular. So, like this person who contacted me, you may also be wondering if it is possible to track a mobile number without the aid of GPS. Is it possible to track mobile number location without the use of GPS? Come along as I shed light on the subject.
Is it possible to track a mobile number’s location?
Using GPS: If the phone number being tracked has GPS or location service turned on, yes; tracking such a number is easy. There are various software available that do this. Google provides Android Device Manager. Apple has iCloud’s Find My iPhone. There are various 3rd party solutions available as well.
So if a person is missing or a phone stolen, assuming that the SIM card is still in the phone and GPs is active, its location can be tracked using a number of services.
Without GPS: There are a number of websites and services claiming to be able to track a mobile number without the use of GPS. It is mostly clickbait, as all they do is provide you with the network name and allied details attached to that number.
Because the information provided is that attached to the network, the location that those services provide is the location information provided by the subscriber during registration. In other words, a mobile number that was registered in Lagos will return Lagos when searched for on those websites.
One, that is useless for finding a lost person. Two, “Lagos” is too generic to be used to find a stolen or missing phone. So, those tracking websites are useless.
To track mobile number location without GPS
To track the location of a mobile number without the GPS active is possible from the end of the cell phone carrier or mobile network operator. The operator uses the nearest base stations around the number to track down its location.
How accurate is this method? It depends. In cities where there is a high density of cell towers, it is much more accurate than in the countryside where single cell towers service a wider range. A location precision of up to within 50 metres is possible in urban centres.
Law enforcement agencies often have this kind of access. But it isn’t accessible to 3rd party services. As such, should you ever need to track a missing person who has GPS disabled, your only recourse is the police or other government security agency. Depending on the country you are based in, a warrant may be required before this can be done. The first step is to file a missing person report.
Now you know what to do to track a mobile number’s location if the user of the phone has GPS disabled or unavailable. All the best. Don’t forget to bookmark MobilityArena.com and share this article with your social network.
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Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.