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How to track an Android phone, tablet, or smartwatch

Losing your mobile device — especially a smartphone — is the ultimate stressor. Our devices carry the bulk of our private information and potentially sensitive data. If lost or stolen, that can mean disastrous or heartbreaking consequences. If you use an Android device, there are ways to find its location if it ends up out of your hands. Here are some handy resources that you can use as long as your phone is on and connected to a mobile or Wi-Fi network. Note that we strongly discourage using phone trackers to follow people or for any illicit purpose.

Built-in options

A number of manufacturers offer their own way of tracking phones. Here are the options from Google (for any Android phone) and Samsung (for Samsung devices).

Find My Device

Google’s Find My Device app is a must-have for Android users and one of our favorite Android apps. If you’ve added a Google Account to your Android device, then Find My Device will be enabled automatically. You can check that the service is running by going to Settings > Google > Security > Find My Device and making sure Find My Device is toggled on. The following sequence was recorded on an LG V40 ThinQ running Android 10. One search tracks all devices you’re signed into. Features include tracking your phone, tablet, or smartwatch via GPS, and remotely erasing, playing a sound, or locking your device.

The app makes it simple to locate your lost device, and it’s free to download from the Play Store. After you install the app, it will ask you to log in and make sure location tracking is enabled. Once the app is installed and running, you can locate your device, as long as it’s turned on and connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data.

To track your device, you can also use Find My Device’s website in any browser, whether on your computer or another smartphone. If you’re logged into your Google account, you can type “find my phone” into the Google search box. If your lost device has access to the internet and location tracking is on, you’ll find out where it is. One of the outstanding features here is that you can lock the device and write a message with an accompanying phone number. That way, if someone finds or has your device, all they have to do is press the Call Me button on the screen to call the specified phone number. You can also play a (very) loud sound or erase the phone remotely.

Android Find My feature for tracking your phone.

If you use a browser to track down your smartphone, go ahead and sign in to your Google account. Since you’ll usually only access this service when your device is missing, you’ll probably be logging in from a device that belongs to someone else. Don’t forget to log out of all your accounts when you’re done. If you leave yourself logged in, anyone who accesses that device later will be able to track your phone. It takes about a minute to download the app and start setting it up. Since it’s incredibly easy and user-friendly, it should honestly be your go-to for recovering your lost Android smartphone.

Find My Mobile

Samsung offers the Find My Mobile phone locating service for Samsung users with phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10. Only people with a Samsung account can use this particular feature. Check your settings to find the Find My Mobile option. Navigate to Settings > Biometrics and Security > Find My Mobile. Once you’re there, switch the toggle on. From here, you also need to choose whether or not you want to enable the Remote Unlock and Send Last Locations settings. In the Remote Unlock setting, Samsung will record your PIN, password, or pattern, allowing you to unlock your device even if you happen to forget. Once this is set up, you can control your phone even remotely. The Send Last Location setting is an important one, as it senses when your battery is about to die and sends your last known location to Samsung’s servers. Samsung users also have a second option to log in to Samsung’s website on any browser to trace their lost phone or tablet.

Apps to find your phone

If you can’t find any native way to find your phone, you can use third-party phone-tracking apps to do the job. They will probably hit you with a subscription fee or save your information to their server, so it’s a trade-off you’ll have to think about when trying to find your phone. Make sure to thoroughly read the privacy policy before signing up if you choose to use a third-party app.

Life360: Family Locator & GPS Tracker

Geared toward families, this free-to-use app lets you keep track of where all your family members are by tracking their smartphones. This way, even if one member loses their phone, others can instantly find out where it is.

Google Play

Cerberus

Cerberus Phone Security for preventing data theft from a stolen phone.

If you are worried about your lost phone getting stolen, Cerberus may be the best phone tracking app for you. It offers a variety of security features that let you access your lost or stolen device remotely. You can sound alarms, wipe the data, lock your device, and even take photos from the front camera to detect any thieves. It’s a family app with different options for adults and children. The price starts at $5 to $6 a month for tracking one device and goes up to $50 for 10 devices.

Cerberus

Where’s My Droid

Where’s My Droid is a free app (with paid options) for finding your phone. It lets you look for your device by making it ring, taking pictures of the surroundings, tracking GPS location, setting a password, and wiping phone data as a last resort. Note that most of these features are only available for paid members, so you’ll likely have to spend some money to get the most out of this app.

Google Play

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