One of the most devastating feelings in the world is to lose your phone. Losing your phone from theft or a by an honest mistake is a stressful experience. It is the most personal device we own and losing it feels like losing communication with the rest of the world. In the past, there was no phone tracker and once you lost your phone, that was the end of it.
The evolution of technology and mobile security has made it easier for one to locate a missing phone. So in case you lose your phone, don’t fret. There are tools built into every Android phone that make it possible to lock and track down a lost phone easily, especially when it is connected to the internet.
You have a couple of options when it comes to locating a missing android device but I’ll like to start with the obvious, which is preventing any one from getting access into the phone if you lose it temporarily.
Create a secure lock screen
Do yourself a favor and turn on the pass code, face unlock and finger print authentication. I recommend using all three, but at the very least use two. Scanning a finger print, entering a pass code or drawing a pattern every time you wish to use your phone might be a bit of a burden. However, the idea of someone gaining access to your banking apps, social media accounts, email and your personal info is definitely worse. So an extra method of securing your phone is absolutely worth the effort.
In addition, some methods below won’t work if someone gains access to your phone and immediately logs you out of your google account or resets your phone to factory settings. So let’s hope whoever took your phone is not that smart.
When you sign into an android device with a google account, Find My Device is your default option. Should your device go missing, you’ll be able to remotely track, lock and erase it.
You can make sure Find My Device is turned on by opening the Settings app and tapping Security and location > Find My Device. If your device doesn’t have security and location, go to Google > Security > Find My Device. Turn on Find My Device and exit the settings app.
How to use Google’s Find My Device
In the unfortunate event of losing your phone, using this android’s service requires you to visit android.com/find. Make sure you sign in with the same Google account that is linked to your missing phone.
If you don’t have a computer available, you can use another android device and download the Find My Device app from the Play store. Immediately after signing in, Google will attempt to find your phone and an alert will be sent to your phone indicating its location is being tracked.
In the app, you have 3 options to choose from. In the menu on the left hand side, you can play a sound on the missing device for up to 5 minutes, whether or not it is on silent (helpful if the device is still in your possession but you just can’t find it).
You can also secure your device by locking it down and signing out of your Google account. With this option, you can display a message or phone number on the lock screen. Don’t worry, you can still locate the device even if it is locked. Locking your phone also prevents anyone from using your Google pay account for mobile payments or making any other sort of purchase.
The third option is the Erase the device feature. In case you’re wondering, yes it is just like restoring your phone to factory settings. This option should be reserved for last resort, as it cannot be undone. You will no longer be able to track its location.
Note that if the thief turns off your phone, you won’t be able to track it until its turned back on and is connected to the internet. Google will send you an email once it locates your device.
Samsung’s Find My Device
Samsung Galaxy users in addition to Google’s Find My Device have an alternative option, Samsung’s Find My Device. I recommend you set it up before your phone goes missing. Samsung’s Find My Device in addition to tracking your phone and locking it, has more features than Google’s.
Using Samsung’s Find My Device
Samsung Galaxy owners have the benefit of using Google’s or Samsung’s service to locate a missing device, but I recommend using Samsung’s service.
You need to visit findmymobile.samsung.com to track a lost Samsung Galaxy device. There is no companion app, so you’ll need to use a mobile browser on another phone or a computer.
Sign in with your Samsung account, then select your lost device in the menu on the left side of the screen. It will track your phone’s current location and display it on a map, and a menu of options will show up.
There’s a bunch of features here. Start by locking the phone and displaying a personalized message on the screen (Maybe a phone number to be called in case it was missing but found), suspend your Samsung Pay cards if you have any, and prevent the phone from being powered off (yes, you have that option too).
Next thing you should do is to use the backup option to create a backup of your phone in case you lose it for good. Backup is recommended in case you decide to use the nuclear option, to erase all data on the device.
If the phone is moving, use the Track location feature. This would track your phone every 15 minutes. Lastly, turn on Extend battery life feature. This will disable almost every other process on the phone except location tracking, keeping your phone on for long while you attempt to find it.
There are definitely other ways of tracking a lost device by third party apps. However, I can’t vouch for how reliable they’ll be. I hope this helps you but I also hope you never need to use it.