Few items we own are as precious as our phone, and losing it can be a dreadful experience (unless you decide to turn it into an opportunity to make a weird and voyeuristic film). If you need to find out how to track a phone, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re simply trying to track the location of your lost phone or you’re a secret agent who needs to gain intel on the whereabouts of a crooked diplomat, we’re here to give you the information you need to get the job done. It’ll be easier if you’re trying to track a smartphone, but there are ways to locate older phones as well, so don’t give up hope if you’re still rocking a first-gen Motorola Razr — we’ve still got your back.
Tracking your phone before you lose it
If you’re here just to prepare for the day that you lose your phone (which for many is inevitable), then you’re ahead of the game. If you’ve got a smartphone, consider installing the apps listed below.
There are several app choices available for your phone, but also remember to set up any included phone-locating software that comes with your device. That includes Apple’s Find My iPhone, Google’s Find My Device, and Samsung’s Find My Mobile. Head to the next section for more details. If you’re looking for more choice, try these out:
Prey is free to use for up to three devices, there are paid plans for more, and the service can be used for both computers and phones. After you sign up for the service, you simply sync your devices with it, sit back, and relax. The day that your phone goes missing, all you have to do is find a computer, log into your account, and start tracking. Prey runs discreetly in the background and won’t track your phone’s location until you tell it to, so there is no need to worry about your privacy while the phone is in your possession. We recommend this for any Android or iOS device, as well as any Mac, Windows, or Linux PC.
One of the big boys in the antivirus industry, Avast’s name should be familiar to a lot of PC users. The app is more of a complete package, offering virus scanning and protection, backup options, and power saving — as well as anti-theft options. You can remotely lock or wipe your smartphone, listen remotely, or take a “Theftie” of the rascals themselves. You can also activate stealth mode on your device, so the thief doesn’t know Avast is protecting your phone. Avast provides SIM card change notifications and locking, too, and the company offers similar services for Android, Mac, and PC. Avast is offering an all-in-one app for device protection from viruses and thieves — as long as you’re willing to pay for the premium service.
Lookout combines security, tracking, and antivirus or malware protection. There are several interesting features, such as the ability to record a phone’s last location right before the battery dies, the chance to back up contact data before a remote erase, and the option to snap a photo of any would-be thief and email it to yourself along with location data. There is a free two-week trial, after which it will cost $3 per month or $30 for the year if you want the premium features.
Cerberus is a feature-rich app and one of the best anti-theft apps you can get. It’s free to try for a week, but you’ll have to pay $6 for a yearly license for one device. The app offers numerous ways to track and control your smartphone via the website, and even via SMS. You can also sound an alarm, even if your device in silent mode, and lock it with a unique code. Additional features include the ability to record audio remotely and snap photos of anyone trying to use your phone. Location history is just a plus. It also comes with Wear OS support, so alerts will be pushed to your smartwatch should the paired device go out of range.
For non-smartphones …
We recommend using a GPS tracking service. There are many different options out there, but AccuTracking is our current favorite.
It costs as little as $6 per month (less if you subscribe for a year), and uses GPS to track the location of your phone — and lucky for you, it works with a wide variety of feature phones. As long as your phone is GPS-enabled, this service should do the trick. Most modern cell phones are, so as long as your phone isn’t headed to the museum due to age, you should be fine.
When the day comes that you can’t locate your phone, just log in to AccuTracking’s Web interface from any internet-connected computer and — so long as your phone isn’t dead — it will immediately show you its location.