We rely on our cellphones for everything these days, from checking bank balances to creating flawless social media posts, so losing one may be a major inconvenience. We’re not just talking about missing Facebook updates here. You lose connection with family and friends (who memorises phone numbers anymore? ), risk missing job commitments, and having your trip plans thrown into disarray if you don’t have your pocket computer.
To put it another way, you need to find your phone as quickly as possible. The good news is that you can use apps on your phone to assist you. The bad news is that these apps must be installed ahead of time.
How to track down a lost iPhone
Apple’s iOS operating system has a phone-locating feature. The “Find My” app, which allows you to track down a lost iPhone, iPad, or other Apple device, relies on your Apple ID password, so remember it or save it in a reliable password manager.
To enable this function, go to Settings on your iPhone, press your name at the top of the screen, and then select the menu option that lists your iPhone as one of the Apple ID-connected devices. Toggle on Find My iPhone, then make sure the toggle switch next to Send Last Location is turned on as well. You’ll also need to make sure that your phone’s Location Services are turned on in order to retrieve a misplaced phone. This should be turned on by default, but you can double-check by going to Settings and pressing Privacy, then Location Services. After you’ve enabled these options, you may go about your regular routine until your iPhone is lost.
So, what should you do if you lose your iPhone? To get started, open any computer’s web browser and go to icloud.com/find, then log in using your Apple ID. Alternatively, take another Apple device, such as a laptop or iPad, login in with your Apple ID, and download the Find My app for that device.
The following page should display a map with a dot indicating the position of your iPhone and any other registered devices. When you tap the dot, you’ll see the battery level of the phone, as well as the time and date the iPhone last reported its location. If you haven’t checked in in a while, the battery may have died or someone may have turned it off. Because a phone can’t communicate its position when it’s switched off, the location on the map may be outdated in this situation.
Find My allows you to engage with your phone in addition to checking in with it. If the map indicates that your phone is buried someplace in your residence, for example, you may press Play Sound to hear it ring (even if the volume is muted).
If the phone appears to be floating around somewhere else, you can mark it as lost and take more drastic actions. This will lock your smartphone remotely and display a message of your choice to any strangers who may pick it up on the street or in a restaurant. It will also prohibit any Apple Pay purchases from being made on the phone.
This option should be sufficient to prevent a thief from gaining access. This will erase your phone’s contents from afar. So even if your phone never finds its way back to you, you’ll be comfortable in the knowledge that your data is protected. If you do manage to get your hands on it again, you may restore it using an iTunes or iCloud backup.
How to track down a lost Android phone
The Find My iPhone feature is available on Android smartphones as well. You can locate it on stock Android by going to Settings and pressing Google, then Find My Device. To turn it on, flip the switch at the top of your screen. If you activate this, you’ll be able to track down and, if required, wipe your Android smartphone remotely if it goes missing.
Some Android device makers include their own phone finding applications. Samsung, for example, offers a service called Find My Mobile. However, you should be able to utilise the native option if you have a Google account on your phone. You must enable location services on your Android smartphone, just as you do on an iPhone. To find out, click to Settings > Location.
If you misplace your Android, your strategy should be identical to that of a misplaced iPhone. To begin, open any web browser and go to google.com/android/find, or open the Find My Smartphone app on another Android device. When you log into your Google account, you’ll see a map that shows you where your phone last recorded its location. Here’s something else to think about: Go to Google’s home page and put “where did my phone go?” into the search box. This will launch the same phone-showing map as long as you’re signed into your Google account.
This page provides you with other options in addition to showing the location of your Android smartphone. For one thing, even if the phone is set to quiet, you can get it to ring, which could help you figure out which sofa cushion it’s landed beneath. The ringing will last five minutes, giving you plenty of time to go through the filthy laundry or rummage under the bed. Keep in mind that the position on the map represents the location of the phone when it was last connected to the web.
The second option is beneath the Recover button, which brings you straight to the Find my Device website, where you may remotely lock and erase the phone—the same options as the Apple service. Sign out of your Google account on the missing device and lock it using the Secure device option. If you think someone could pick up your phone and return it to you, you can set a message to show on the lock screen.
Finally, if your phone has been stolen and you want to make sure the data and applications on it are safe, you may choose the Erase device option. Although remotely locking your phone will usually keep people out, if you’re never going to get it back or suspect someone may have gotten past the lock screen, this is the safest choice.