How to locate a lost or stolen phone
Surely you have ever had the bad luck of accidentally misplacing your smartphone or being the victim
of a robbery. This is always a bummer, it is not a pleasant situation, not only because of the price of our
device but because in the end, we all carry our lives inside our smartphones.
Fortunately, Android, iOs, and Windows offer solutions to locate our mobile. In addition,
you can disable and delete your data in case of loss or theft. We explain step by step how to
do it with the main operating systems on the market.
Locate an Android mobile
Each Android device is linked to a Google account, so it is enough to access Google
from the browser and type in the search engine “Find my device”, where you will have to enter your
Gmail account with which your mobile was registered. You can access this service both from a
computer and another device.
Once you have accessed, the last location of the devices currently linked to your
Google account will be displayed. The location is approximate, being more precise if the device is connected to
a WiFi network then if it is on a mobile network.
If you have multiple devices, an arrow will appear next to the device name to select others.
Select the terminal in question and once it is located you can play a sound, block it and
delete all the content.
To be able to use this service, the lost terminal must be turned on, have a session
started in the Google account on the device, be connected to either a WiFi or
mobile data network, be visible on Google Play, have the location activated, and have “Find my device” activated
Send a sound, Delete and Lock remotely on Android
First of all, in order to use these options, you must have given permission to Google from your
terminal in advance. If you are still on time, go to Settings> Security> Device administrators, once here, activate the “Find my device” function.
Once you have activated it, it will take you to a security settings screen, in which you can
activate or deactivate the permissions for the location of the device, erasure, and blocking and checking the
the activity of the device. For the option to block it will be necessary that you access the “Security” section
where you will be given a code that Google may ask you at some point to make sure that you are the one
who tries to log in in case there is suspicious activity (every time you enter a new code will be generated in this
Time to apply the Functions
- Send a sound . Android Device Manager can make your phone ring
at maximum volume for five minutes, even when in silent or vibrate mode
- Delete . You can restore the factory data on the device and delete the applications,
photos, music and settings from the terminal (the removable memory card may not be able to
erase it). After erasing the data from the device, the Android device manager will
not work (you will no longer be able to locate or lock the phone). Think about it, because this
action cannot be undone. If the device is offline, the factory data
will be reset when it is reconnected.
- Block . When you press lock on the computer page, it will ask you for a new password
that will replace the previous one. If someone has stolen your phone and you don’t know it, they won’t be able to
unlock it. You can also set up an
optional recovery message and phone number . A button to call that number will appear on the lock screen (so
if someone who wants to return it finds it, they could contact that number).
Finally, just mention that there are other applications developed by third parties that offer
similar services, such as AndroidLost. The advantage is that they offer additional services, such as erasing the
memory card, knowing the calls that are being made, etc.
Locate an iPhone
If your iPhone is lost or stolen, you will only be able to locate it if you had the Find My iPhone option activated.
To activate it, on your phone, go to iCloud Settings. It will ask you to sign in with your Apple ID. If
“Find My iPhone” is not activated, tap to activate. Your device must have iOS 8 to
use this option.
To locate your iPhone, from a computer, go to the iCloud page with your Apple ID and password
and select the “Search” option (the one with a radar icon). Otherwise, you can also use the App
“Find my iPhone” from another iOS device (another iPhone or an iPad).
Once there, in the drop-down located in the center of the top bar, select a device to see
its location on the map.
From the window that appears on the right, you can also make your iPhone emit a sound, in case
it is nearby.
Lock and delete
From the same page, you can also activate Lost Mode, with which you can lock the
device remotely with a four-digit code, show a personalized message
(indicating where to return it or a phone number to be contacted) and record
the location of the phone.
You can also erase the data remotely, although once this is done you will not be able to continue
tracking. After erasing a device, you will not be able to locate it. If you remove the device from your
account after deleting its content, Activation Lock will be disabled. This allows other
people to activate and use your device.
If the device is off or offline, all actions will take effect the next time it is
started and connected.
Locate a mobile with Windows
Windows Phone mobiles, mostly Nokia Lumia models, have services equal
to that of Android and iOS, called Find my phone. It is a free service within the My
phone section of the Windows Phone page, where you can ring the terminal (in case it is nearby),
delete it, block it or locate it on a map.
To locate it, go to My Phone from the Windows Phone web page; and sign in with the
Windows Live ID that is linked to the phone (a Hotmail or Outlook account). To do this, hover the mouse
over the phone icon that appears in the upper right corner and click on ‘Find my
device’, you will see a map with the approximate location of the terminal. If you don’t see the most recent location,
You can configure this service to automatically save your location every few hours. Also
to use push notifications instead of SMS when sending commands to the phone (they
have no limit, while with SMS there is a limit of 15 in three days, and they are faster). However, these settings must be changed on the phone and not on the computer.
This is done in Start, scrolling left to the Applications list and then entering
Settings Find my phone. There you can select “connect faster to these
features” to use push notifications instead of SMS (however, remember that this
consumes more battery); and the option “save my location every few hours to improve results”,
so that if the terminal runs out of coverage or battery, Microsoft can still show you a record of
the last known location on the map.
As in the other operating systems, Windows offers the same functions.
If you want to send a sound to your phone, to do so in the same location section, click on
call. Unlike what happens with a call, the phone will ring even if it is silent or in
If you want to lock your Windows Phone remotely, in ‘Find my phone, click
lock and follow the instructions to set a password, which will help you unlock it if you
recover it. You can also configure a message to appear on the screen, such as an alternate phone number
or address to facilitate its return.
If you are sure that you cannot recover the phone or if it contains personal information that you want to
protect, you can erase your Windows Phone remotely in ‘Find my phone, click
erase. As this action cannot be undone, you will be prompted with a confirmation screen. If you want to
continue, select “I’m sure. Erase my phone now ”and then click“ erase ”. If
you still want to think about it, you can stop the process by clicking cancel.
Conclusion: prevention is cure
As you can see, some services require that you have been proactive and have configured these
options beforehand . So if you did not have the location services of your terminal activated, or
you simply want to do something else to make sure that nobody uses the terminal without your permission, what you can do
to protect yourself is to change the password of the account linked to the terminal, in addition of the keys of other
services to which you had access from the telephone (social networks, mail …).
You can also report the loss or theft (in the report you can provide the serial number, which
you can find on the original box or on the receipt) and inform the operator (who can cancel the SIM).
Google recommends as an additional measure to inform the operator of the disappearance of the
mobile, so that it disables the SIM and prevents the new owner from incurring additional expenses, but
above all, to protect the user’s personal information.