How to track an Android phone, tablet, or smartwatch

Losing your mobile device — especially a smartphone — is the ultimate stressor. That’s because our devices carry the vast bulk of our private information and potentially sensitive data which, if lost or stolen, could have disastrous or heartbreaking consequences.

If you use an Android device, there are tools you can use and steps you can take that can help you find its location if you misplace or lose it, or are the victim of theft. Here are some of the handy resources at your disposal that you can use as long as your phone is powered on and connected to a mobile or Wi-Fi network. We strongly discourage using phone trackers to follow people around or for any illicit purpose.

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 is automatically enabled. You can check 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 are signed into. Features include tracking your phone, tablet, or smartwatch via GPS, 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 to make sure location tracking is turned on. 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.

Android Find My Device

To track your device, you can also go to 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 great 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 choose to play a (very loud) sound or erase the phone remotely.

If you track your phone using a browser, you will have to log in to your Google account. Make sure to log out if you’ve accessed the service from someone else’s smartphone or desktop browser, then you’ll want to log out of all your accounts when you’re finished. If you leave your account logged in, anyone with access to that computer will be able to track your smartphone. The app only takes a minute to install and set up, and because it’s so easy to use, it should be your first choice for finding a lost Android device.

Find My Mobile

If you have a Samsung phone, like the Samsung Galaxy S10, you can use Samsung’s Find My Mobile service. You will need a Samsung account to use this. You can find the option in Settings > Biometrics and security > Find My Mobile where you can toggle the service on and decide if you want to allow Remote unlock and Send last location. With Remote unlock, Samsung stores your PIN, password, or pattern, so you can unlock it even if you forget, but it can also be used to control your phone remotely. Send last location sends the last known location of your phone to Samsung’s servers when the battery is about to give out, so it’s worth having this toggled on. You can also sign in to Samsung’s website with your account in any browser to track your lost phone or tablet.

Alternative options

If your device manufacturer doesn’t offer some kind of tracking service like Samsung’s Find My Mobile, and you don’t want to use Google’s Find My Device service, there are still a few options. Most major carriers in the U.S. offer some kind of phone-tracking service, but you may have to pay extra for it. There are also a number of third-party apps that offer phone-tracking capability, though many of them also charge a subscription fee. If you resort to a third-party app, be sure to read the privacy policy before signing on.

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