Track and locate your Android device in 2020 – ABOUT MAG 2020

How do you find your Android phone? Let us show you how.

There are a handful of phone recovery or anti-theft apps on Google Play Store which can be a lifesaver if you want to find a lost phone or, worse, a stolen phone. But many people may realize that there are applications as soon as they get lost. So it’s usually too late and you have to face the ugly truth that the phone is gone forever.

To find a lost Android phone, it usually still needs an Internet connection to transmit its location. To get the best location results, he must have an active connection to a Wi-Fi network. Whatever your situation, we’ll cover the most common options and the most immediate approaches here to cover extreme cases as well.

  1. How to locate your lost Android phone using Google and your own services
  2. Find your lost phone using third-party tools
  3. Install a tracking app to find your phone in the future
  4. Answers to your burning questions

How to find your lost phone with Google and your own services

Find your phone using Google’s Find My Device (formerly Android Device Manager)

Requirements:

  • Your device is connected to your Google account.
  • Your device has internet access.
  • Find My Device allowed you to find your device in by default). This can be changed in the Google Settings application.
  • Find My Device allowed you to lock your device and erase your data out by default).

Find my device is Google’s official and easy-to-use tool for tracking your lost Android phone or tablet. The best thing is that you don’t need to install an app to track your devices. The only requirement is that your Android phone is connected to your Google account, turned on and connected to the Internet. All you need to do is visit the Find my device website while signed in to your Google Account. After the website is loaded, it tries to automatically track the lost phone. If you have multiple registered Android devices, make sure the right device was chosen from the menu.

In a recent update, Google implemented some of the features on its search results page. This means that you can quickly locate any registered Android device directly in the search results. When using the search phrase “where is my phone”, Google displays a small map above the search results in which it tries to find your lost Android phone. Once found, you can let it ring by clicking “Ringtone”.

google find my android search result for lost phone

While this makes it more convenient to find your lost phone quickly, it doesn’t offer all the options you get with the full Find My Device interface.

When using it, you can track your registered Android devices, let your phone ring and clear your phone data (which must be activated on the phone). In addition, Find Your Device no longer offers options to remotely control the lost phone. I hope Google will continue to improve it and introduce more useful features, such as taking a selfie of the person using it if it is stolen.

If there is no laptop nearby when you lose your device, you can also use someone else’s phone to track it. Instead of using the mobile browser, you can also use the Find my device application. You can sign in using guest mode and your Google account credentials. You should now be able to track your lost device, let it touch or wipe your data.

google find my device interface

Can’t find your lost Android phone like that? This can happen for several reasons. What you should expect is that your device is simply not connected to the Internet or turned off. In that case, keep trying to track it until (hopefully) you connect to Google services again.

Use Google Location History – now called “Timeline” – to track your lost Android phone (even if it is disabled)

Requirements:

  • Your device is connected to your Google account.
  • Your device has or had access to the Internet (before it was turned off).
  • Location Reporting and Location History must be enabled on your device (this can be done in the Google Settings app on your device).

Unlike the Find your device tool, the Google Maps timeline feature in fact, it doesn’t focus on tracking a lost phone. You can use your location data for many different things, such as searching past travel routes. However, it is also a good way to locate the lost phone. As mentioned, if your Android device is turned off, you can use your location history data to identify the last recorded location. This means that even if your phone’s battery runs out, you can still find it.

maps-timeline-screenshot

Here’s what you need to do. I go to the Your timeline (old Google Maps Location History) and make sure the current day is selected in the calendar. In the left sidebar, you can see a complete timeline for that day, including the names of all recorded locations. On the right, you can see all the locations viewed on a map.

timeline points

In addition to Find My Device, which also uses GPS for tracking, your Timeline uses only cell tower IDs and Wi-Fi location detection to collect location data. This means that the accuracy can vary significantly. The advantage of the Timeline is the ability to track your phone’s location frequently over a period of time. So even if someone has stolen it, you can still identify frequently visited places, which may be the thief’s home or workplace. This can help you and the authorities to capture the person.

Use Google Photos to find your lost Android phone

Requirements:

  • Your device has internet access.
  • Enabled the “Backup and sync” option in Google Photos.
  • Someone needs to take pictures with their lost device.

If your device has been stolen, you can find it using the Google Photos backup and sync feature. If you enabled this option in the app, all images taken with your phone will be sent to your Google Photos account. Why such good news? Well, not only the image, but also the place where it was taken is loaded. Therefore, if the thief has not logged out of your Google Account and tried the camera on your phone, there may be new images appearing in Google Photos. Obviously, this only works if your lost phone has an active Internet connection and if you give your photo app permission to use your location. Be careful to identify the location of your lost Android phone, which may well be the thief’s home address. Don’t try to find yourself! Use this information and call your local authorities to get it out.

google photos location

Assuming that all of these requirements are met, what do you need to do? Here it is, step by step:

  1. Visit photos.google.com and sign in using your Google Account to which your Android device is connected.
  2. Check if photos were taken after your device was stolen.
  3. If so, click on the image.
  4. Now, click on the information icon in the upper right corner.
  5. In the displayed sidebar, you can now see the image information, including where it was taken.

Find your lost phone using these third-party tools

Use Samsung’s Find My Mobile

Requirements:

  • Your device has internet access.
  • You need to have a Samsung account and your device registered with it.
  • Find out that my cell phone needs to be set up on your Samsung phone (by enabling remote controls).

If you have a Samsung device, you can find your lost phone using Samsung’s own tracking service ‘Find my mobile’. For this to work, you need a Samsung account and registered your device before you lost. So try to remember if you did this.

samsung-find-mobile

You did? Impressive. Go up and enter the Find my mobile site. Check the left sidebar and make sure your device is connected to your account. Now, just select “Find my device” in the sidebar and click the find button. If your device is online and remote controls are enabled, you should see your approximate location. Finding my phone also allows you to do other things, such as locking the device, letting it ring with a message, and clearing the data.

7. How to use Dropbox to find your lost phone (Android and iOS)

Requirements:

  • Your device has internet access.
  • “Camera upload” enabled in your Dropbox app.
  • Someone needs to take pictures with their lost device.

If your device has been stolen, Dropbox it can be your last resort if all other approaches don’t get you closer to finding the lost phone. For this to work, however, Dropbox must be installed on your phone and the “Upload from camera” feature must be enabled. This way, whenever your phone thief takes a photo, it is automatically uploaded to the Dropbox “Camera uploads” folder. So, if he takes a good selfie, you can identify the thief. And if you’re lucky, you can identify the location by looking at the background of the photos you send.

If that’s impossible, just start a blog and show the world all the photos your thief took. There’s a funny page sharing on Tumblr Hafid pictures, the guy who stole the blog owner’s phone.

So far, this is the only way Dropbox can help you. Dropbox does not provide the IP address of the mobile devices connected to your Dropbox account. This is only possible for PCs and laptops so far.

I hope you are reading this out of pure interest and not because you lost your phone! But, if that is really the case, I sincerely hope that this article will help you find it. In any case, I recommend installing a good tracking application BEFORE the phone disappears. One application that I recommend is Cerberus, which is available on Google Play.

Install a tracking application to protect and find a lost phone in the future

While Google tools are probably the best options, we recommend some third-party tools. They generally offer more remote control features and can add an additional layer of security.

Cerberus (free with in-app purchases)

Cerberus is our recommended tracking app, which features a wide variety of remote control options. This includes basic location tracking, secret audio or video recording, capturing remote images, triggering an alarm and wiping your data. There are many more options that make Cerberus the Swiss Army knife or tracking applications. What makes this app even better are some of the more advanced features. For example, you can hide the Cerberus app in the app drawer, which makes it difficult to identify and delete.

If you have a rooted Android device, you can use a flexible ZIP file to install it on your phone. That way, even if someone resets your lost Android phone back to its factory settings, Cerberus will still be installed on your device. For more information on this, check out our article on Cerberus.

Download Cerberus (free with in-app purchases)

Lost Android (free with in-app purchases)

Android lost it is quite similar to Cerberus and offers many different remote control options, including tracking your lost phone, wiping your data and taking photos remotely. Don’t judge the rather basic appearance of the Lost Android website, which acts as the interface on which you can locate and control your device. He does his job well and even the developer behind the application declares on the website that he is an engineer and not a web developer.

Installation is quite easy. After installing the application through the Play Store, open it and give it device administrator permissions. Done. If you lose your phone, visit the Lost Android site, sign in with the same Google Account and phone and choose one of the available tracking features.

Download Lost Android (free with in-app purchases)

Prey Anti Theft

Prey is known for its anti-theft tools, not only for smartphones, but also for laptops. The most convenient thing about Prey is that it offers up to three devices that you can track with your free account. Although it does not offer as many remote control options as Cerberus, it covers all the basic and most important features, such as GPS tracking, taking photos remotely and even scanning nearby Wi-Fi networks for better tracking.

Download Prey Anti Theft (free)

Common questions

With the large number of questions that people posted in the comments section, we concluded that it makes sense to address the most frequently asked questions. That way, this guide is much clearer and you can focus on finding your phone instead of posting your question or filtering out comments to get an answer you’re looking for. The answers below can also bring some people back to reality, because in some cases, it is not possible to locate a lost phone.

Can I still find my lost phone if it’s off / in airplane mode / the battery is dead?

This is a common scenario. Your phone is lost and the battery won’t last forever or a potential thief may have turned it off. And now? Except you are working for the CIA, there is no way to contact your device. He must have an active Internet connection to send his approximate location. However, you can use your phone’s location history to see where it was located before the Internet connection stopped. For this to work, location history needs to be turned on on the phone. If you have not done so, you have no other option, but wait and wait for someone to call you and connect to the web.

-> Google Maps location history guide

I changed my Google account password. Can I still find my Android phone?

Changing your Google password after losing your phone is a completely logical thing to do, right? You do not want someone else to have access to all of your emails, unit documents, etc. You can proceed and change your password without losing the ability to track your device. Methods like Android Device Manager will still work. If you are unable to locate your phone with ADM, I suggest you check the last recorded location using your phone’s location history.

-> Find my device tab

-> How to use Google Maps location history to find your phone

Can I track my lost phone if someone does a factory reset?

This is easy – no. As the name implies, resetting a phone brings it back to factory settings. The most important thing you need – connection to your Google account – will no longer be there. If you have not installed a tracking application with root access, such as Cerberus, you will no longer be able to find it.

Can I find my phone using my IMEI number?

Locating your lost Android phone with its unique IMEI number is not really possible. In some cases, the police may work with a telephone provider to locate you using your IMEI number. But don’t think that you can just walk into a police station and expect them to do so. One more realistic thing you can do is lock your phone so that no one can use it to make calls, send texts or use the web. To do this, it is best to contact your provider.

By the way, you can find out your phone’s IMEI number by dialing * # 06 #. This code should work on most phones. Don’t you have your device in hand? Here’s how find the IMEI without having the phone.

Can I find my device if someone has changed the SIM card?

Even if someone places the SIM card in the phone, you can still find it. Changing SIMs does not disconnect you from your Google Account, which is a good thing. This means that tracking tools like Android Device Manager or Android Lost should still work. The only thing needed in this scenario is that the phone maintains an Internet connection.

-> Find my device tab

My phone does not appear in Find my device. Why is that?

This can have many reasons. Your phone may be turned off, disconnected from the Internet or from your Google Account. Keep in mind that changing your Google account password will automatically log you out of Google. Also, trying to find a device with Find My Device doesn’t always work. I recommend that you keep trying to locate the lost phone every half hour. Your phone may have a bad connection, or someone turns it on and connects to the web. But if you changed your Google password, Find My Device will not be able to track it.

-> Locate your lost phone using Find My Device

Do you still have unanswered questions? You can post your question in the comments!

What you should do as soon as possible, if you find your device or end up purchasing a new one

We received many emails, tweets and comments from the past few months from people who found the phone lost, thanks to this article. Unfortunately, most readers are not that lucky. Either way, if you found your phone lost or plan to buy a replacement, you must be well prepared before something like this happens again. Below are two fundamental steps you should take to quickly track your device in case you lose it again.

Enable Find my device and location history

Make sure Find My Device and Location History are enabled. Both tools can be a big help when you lose your device. With Find My Device, you can track your device, touch and erase your data. The location history shows the last locations recorded on a map. If someone stole it, it can help you (and local authorities) track down the thief’s home address, for example.

To activate both services, select “Google Settings” in your app drawer. Select Security and verify that the two options under “Find my device” are enabled. Now, take a step back and select “Location”. Click on “Google Location History” and activate it. You can now use the tool to track your device and Location History to see your last recorded locations.

Android device manager settings

location-history2

Set a lock screen pattern or password

Many people already use lock screens to prevent unwanted people from accessing private files, such as images, text or videos. For some people, unlocking a phone numerous times a day can be quite annoying, but it’s worth it. This extra layer of security doesn’t just prevent your friends and colleagues from secretly checking your latest images or text.

It also prevents thieves from changing key settings, such as disabling mobile data or disconnecting your phone from your Google Account. As you’ve learned, an active web connection and a connected Google Account are required to get your Android phone’s current location.

Were you able to recover your mobile device after it got lost? How did you get it back? Share your experience with us in the comments.

Note: If you are really missing an Apple device, go to my guide on how to track a lost iPhone or iPad. For Windows phones, check out this post.

Paula Fonseca