Find a lost iPhone, Windows Phone, or another cell phone
How to find a lost iPhone
The best (and only) way to get your iPhone back is through Apple’s native feature, Find My iPhone. The app comes pre-installed on every iOS device and can display your missing device on a map to help you easily locate and manage it. You’ll need a computer or another iOS device with the Find My iPhone app to deploy this feature, however. Sadly, these features are only available when your phone is powered on and connected to the internet.
To use the feature, simply log into iCloud and open the Find my iPhone feature. The Apple service will locate your phone on a map and give you the option to play a sound on your device, send a message to your phone with “lost mode,” or erase its contents. All of this can be done without any additional configuration.
Find my iPhone is also able to locate your Mac, iPod, and iPad. It’s an incredibly effective tool for tracking down just about any iOS device. Don’t believe us? Check out this story about cops apprehending a criminal by using the app. This is just one of many similar stories where phone-tracking software helped save the day.
Apple also employs another form of security, known as Activation Lock, to keep your iPhone safe from theft. Like the reactivation lock for Samsung smartphones, Activation Lock requires you to enter your Apple ID and password before you can disable Find My iPhone, wipe your device, or reactivate it.
How to find a lost Windows Phone
Windows Phone owners, don’t fret. If you’ve misplaced your smartphone, you too can recover it with the help of Microsoft’s built-in service. The company has built a lost phone feature directly into Windows Phone 8.1 and later iterations thereof, allowing you to easily find the location of your phone or activate its ringer remotely. It doesn’t require additional configuration after you add your Microsoft account either, though it will only work if your device has power and is connected to the internet.
All you need to do is go to Microsoft’s devices page. There, you should see all your phones and tablets, which you can then locate through the service. You can even add devices that are not currently on the list, remotely lock your devices, and wipe devices you think might have fallen into the wrong hands.
How to find your not-so-smart cell phone
Step 1: Call your cell phone. Listen for the ring or vibration and try to locate your phone through tried-and-true human detection. If your phone is truly lost and in someone else’s hands, then they’re likely to answer if they intend to return the phone. If you don’t have access to a phone, try using wheresmycellphone.com. It will call your phone for free and allow you to leave a message or talk to whoever is on the other side.
Step 2: Retrace your steps. Do a full-fledged visual search. If you couldn’t hear a ring or vibration when you called it, don’t immediately assume that your phone is located far away — the battery could simply be dead.
Step 3: Text your phone. If you believe someone has stolen or possibly found your phone, then send a text message to your phone with your contact info and a reward offer if you choose to do so. There are many online services that allow you to send free text messages, such as txt2day.com.
Step 4: Alert your service provider. If you’ve lost hope of finding it, then call your wireless carrier and let them know your phone is lost. Ask if they offer a GPS locating service. If not, ask them to suspend service to your phone to avoid any possible fraudulent charges. Carriers have differing policies about this, but it’s always worth a try, even for a smartphone. This FCC page has a handy list of numbers.
Step 6: Prepare for the next time you lose your phone. Maybe you’re one of those people who’s always losing their phone. You may want to consider registering for a tracking service such as AccuTracking.