Have you ever lost your Android mobile phone or Android tab? I can tell you that it’s worst than a nightmare! I have experienced this very recently. Suddenly, you are alone in this world. Your contacts with family, friends, colleagues, etc., all are lost in a moment.
Mobile theft is a fact that can not be denied. At the outset itself, I sincerely hope and pray that nobody should ever lose their Android phones, especially in a foreign country.
Facts about Stolen Mobile Phones
According to a Forbes news report published on the 8th December 2017, approximately 70 million mobile phones are stolen yearly from around the world. The numbers keep increasing every year! A rough estimate based on the percentage of increase in the number of mobile phones sold would put the number of stolen mobiles in 2019 at around 1 billion units.
Lost mobiles not only put additional costs on you (to replace it), it exposes you to identity theft. It is always better to ensure that your mobile is insured and mobile tracking is enabled on your Android phones. Mobile tracking for any Android device can be enabled by just logging into your google account with your Android device.
I will share my experience with the lost Android phone.
Details of how to check if the mobile tracking facility is switched on or not are explained below. Tips on how to avoid losing your costly Android mobiles along with tips on the procedures involved in the case of lost Android phones are also written in detail. Tips to be followed in case you are able to locate the lost or stolen mobile’s location is known to you, are also given in this article.
I have also written in detail about the official Android tracking app from Google and Samsung; “Find My Device“. Features of 10 free and popular Android tracking apps are also there in this article. Knowing about the different apps available in the market and their features in advance makes you well equipped to handle any situation if you ever lose your Android devices like your Android phone or your Android tab.
How to Check if Mobile Tracking is Turned “On” or Enabled
If you have added a Google Account to an Android mobile phone, be it a Samsung or any other make, mobile tracking is automatically ‘On’ your device.
I will explain to you how to check if mobile tracking is “On” or “Off”, on your Samsung Galaxy Phone.
- To know if the tracking facility is turned on your Samsung Galaxy phones, check if there is a tick mark next to “Find My Device”, under Settings > Security & lock screen > Device administrators.
How I Lost My Android Mobile Phone?
I will let you about how I lost my Android mobile phone a few months back, in April this year, while traveling overnight in an express train. I slept while the mobile phone was hooked on to the charger unit and it was kept connected to the power socket for recharging purposes. It seems that I fell into a deep sleep. After a couple of hours of sleep, I woke up only to realize that the mobile phone is not there. I searched madly for it; enquired with other co-passengers. In fact, I searched within the whole compartment. By now, my worst fears were confirmed. My Android phone is lost. And it is lost forever!
There was no way I could contact anybody. I do not remember any phone numbers except that of my residence landline. I also lost the habit of keeping the list of phone numbers in the diary. The contact list on my mobile phones took care of keeping the list of contacts for the last two decades or so since I started using the mobiles in 1999. In the initial days when Android phones were not there, I just need to put the old SIM in my new phone to get the contacts. Whenever the SIM card was changed, I used to copy the contacts to the mobile phone as the first step and then transfer them back to the SIM card after the new SIM is inserted.
Since it was past midnight, I did not inform my family about the incident immediately, I don’t want them also to be panicked at odd hours. I informed my family about the incident in the morning around 5.30 am or so, from a co-passengers mobile phone.
OMG! What next?
I was clueless for a moment as to what should be done next. Different thoughts struck me. What if somebody misuses the personal data or family photos on the lost mobile? What if my mobile goes into the hands of some anti-nationals? All other co-passengers are asleep. Do I need to wake them up and tell them about what has happened?
Within 10 to 15 minutes, I realized what is to be done next. I explained what has happened to the ticket examiner, onboard. He directed me to the railway security personal, onboard. I made a formal complaint to them. I also got an acknowledgment of my complaint from the railway security staff deputed on duty on the train. Now I felt that I am safe (to some extent) if somebody uses the phone SIM card for any unlawful activities. To be 100 % legally safe, you also need to file a police complaint with the exact or approximate time the mobile device was lost, which I did the next day. Once you fie a legal case, you are absolved of any malpractice done by the thief, from the time mentioned in your complaint.
Still, there were some more worries like the personal photos, emails and other important documents stored on the mobile, that should not go into any wrong hands. Such data needs to be wiped out from stolen or lost mobiles.
I called my mobile service provider and told them about the incident. They informed me that if they block the phone, I will not be able to track it. Hence I hesitated to immediately block my SIM card and instead decided to try to erase the data first. I was sure that as somebody has lifted my Android mobile phone on purpose, chances of getting it back are very very remote or even nil.
Hence, I decided to use the lost Android mobile phone tracking facility to erase the data from it. I took my laptop and tried to access the phone. Alas! I could not locate the lost mobile phone. I was sure that the thief has switched off my mobile. After a while, I was successful in erasing all my data from the mobile. This was done primarily to prevent any possible identity theft. How I accessed my lost Android and erased the data is explained under the subheading “1. Google’s Find My device”.
I could do all this only because, I had access to the internet. Otherwise, you need to seek somebody else’s help who has got the internet. Or use another android phone to track the lost mobile. In that case, you need to provide your Google account details on that device. If you need to login to your Google account from other people’s devices, do not store your passwords on such devices.
Once I reached my city, I took and a taxi and went home. It was one of the worst experiences I ever had in my life. Since this was my return trip home, I saved myself from many a hassle. Had I been at another place, I may have been forced to skip those programs and return home. Hotel name, room booking details, other meeting details, etc., were all on my lost Android phone, without which spending even a day would have been really tough.
What if You are in a Foreign Country?
As I was in my country, it was easy to get a duplicate SIM card. Had I been in another country, the whole story would have been different.
If you lose your Android phone in another country, you are in for big trouble. I will list out what best can be done to salvage the situation.
- You need to file a formal police complaint in most cases.
- For this, you may need to engage the services of some local people who know the local language.
- Then select any one of the following three options to get another SIM.
- 1. Enquire about the procedure and time period to get a duplicate SIM from your home country and getting it mailed to the current address. If that is feasible, go for it.
- 2. If the above option is not feasible, go for a new SIM from the foreign country itself.
- 3. If the above two options do not work for you, enquire with your hotel or any relative or friend locally, if you can borrow a SIM card for the remaining period of your stay in that foreign country.
- Also, you may need to buy a new Android phone.
- Then get all the apps installed.
Police Complaint, Duplicate SIM Card, and New Android Phone
After I reached my home town, within a few hours, I went to the local police station. I narrated the incident to the officer. He helped me to file a police complaint. I took a print out of the police complaint from the police department website.
I also applied for a duplicate SIM card. Within a few minutes, identity checks were completed and a new SIM card with the same number was issued to me. I bought a brand new Android mobile too.
I logged into my Gmail account and synchronized the contacts. Now, I have the contacts of some of the people in my contact list. Few other’s contacts were still missing. Anyway, I was happy that I could save the missing phone numbers if I were to receive a call from them. Now, I am again ready to face the world!
How to Track Your Lost Android Phone for Free Online?
Official Android Phone Tracking Apps
1. Google’s Find My Mobile
The android operating system is an operating system for Mobile devices from Google.
Google’s official Android tracking webpage can track your lost devices.
You can download and install the app “Google Find My Device” from the Google play store. This app is very simple and easy to use. “Google Find My device” should be your first choice for finding your lost Android phone or any other Android device.
This procedure to locate your Android will work only if your lost Android phone is still kept switched on.
Go to the Offical Android “Find My device” webpage or open the “Find My device” app from another mobile. Login to your Google account, if not done already.
Now, the screen will show your device name. There is a small circle with the English alphabet ‘i’ inside the circle. Click on that. It will show you the IMEI number of your device. You can note down the IMEI number, in case you want to provide that for police complaint to be given to cyber cell for phone tracking purposes or for claiming insurance benefits. If you have the Android invoice with you, it will also have this number.
By default, the app will try to contact the device by itself. There will be a message “Contacting device” with a rotating circle with an arrow on one side. If it is able to locate the device, it will show the mobile operator’s name and signal strength in the percentage. You can see the GPS location of your phone, via the website or app’s built-in map. You can also use the app to track the smartphones of any family member who syncs their phone to the program. When hunting down a lost or stolen phone, the application provides real-time location updates, which constantly change as the phone in question moves. The app also provides accurate GPS directions and relies on its triangulation algorithm to produce a spot-on location.
You can also delete any messages from a tracked Android mobile phone.
If the app can not locate the device by itself, click on the ‘circle with an arrow on one end’ icon (just below the previously mentioned circle with i), to locate your device’s current location.
The main features of ‘Find My Device’ app are listed below.
- “PLAY SOUND” option is the first option to track the lost Androids. Once Google is able to locate the Android phone, you can make the device ring for five minutes. To do this, click on the “PLAY SOUND” heading. To stop the ringing sound, the one who has got the mobile phone on hand has to press the power key on the device. You can stop the ringing by clicking on the “STOP RINGING button.
- Keep on using this option to make the phone ring continuously, so as to get the attention of the one who possesses it.
- You have two other options; “SECURE DEVICE” and “ERASE DEVICE“.
- Click on “SECURE DEVICE”. You can type an optional recovery message and an optional phone number into the next screen, for those who are in possession of your lost Android phone to contact you. Once you fill in these details, again click on “SECURE DEVICE”. The filled in details will be displayed on the lost Android mobile phone. “Call Me” button will be displayed on your lost Android phone so that those who found it can call the specified phone number by clicking the button.
- If Android is stolen, nothing much can be done, except going for the option “ERASE DEVICE”, as those who have stolen your Android phone will never ever return it.
- “ERASE DEVICE” option should only be used as the last resort in case your Android phone is lost. If you are sure that it’s theft and chances of getting it back are not there, you can proceed with this option. Otherwise, exercise caution while using this option. If you proceed with this option, all content on your Android phone will be erased (lost) and you can no more track the Android. This option may require you to again sign in to your Google account.
I decided to try this option and erase all data on my mobile, as I feared that it may go into the wrong hands. At least, I have peace of mind that nobody is going to misuse any of the documents or photos from my Android phone.
2. Samsung’s Find My Mobile
If you are a Samsung Android mobile phone user, Samsung’s Find My Mobile app is for you. If you’ve signed in to the Samsung account with your Galaxy phone, this app works. Some of the features of Samsung’s find My device app are listed below.
- There is a backup service to track down your lost phone.
- The app can force a remote backup.
- It can check if someone has changed the SIM card.
- It has got tools that Google Find My Device doesn’t have.
How to open Samsung’s Find My Device through the website?
Go to the official Samsung Find My Device webpage.
- If you are not signed in to your Samsung account, please sign in.
- Select your lost device from the left side of the screen.
- A map will be shown to you with the location of your lost phone.
- A menu with different options to lock the phone, sent an alarm message, erase data, etc., are displayed on the right side of the screen.
- As a first step, lock your phone from the menu options.
- It will display a personalized message on the locked device.
- Any Samsung Pay cards are suspended.
- It will also prevent the phone from being switched off.
- Now, go for creating a backup of your phone.
- If you notice that the device has changed its location, use the ‘Track location’ feature. This feature tracks your phone once every 15 minutes.
- Also, turn on the “Extend battery life” feature. All features, except location tracking, is now disabled on your lost phone.
If you are using a Samsung mobile phone app to track your lost phone, do the following and then follow the same instructions given above.
- Open your Settings app on the Samsung mobile.
- Go to Biometrics and security.
- Then, select “Find My Mobile”. Follow the instructions given above to locate and lock your phone. Also, Backup the phone and go for Extended battery life options.
10 Free and Popular Android Tracking Apps
The Family Locator app by Life360 is one of the best GPS trackers for Android phones. The app is also known as the ‘Life 360’ app. This app useful if you or your family use multiple Android phones.
The features of the ‘Family Locator’ app are listed below.
- You can make your family a “Circle“, that is the app’s name for a closed group of people who agree to have their phones tracked in real-time.
- All the family members will appear on the maps as small icons so that any mobile can be tracked at any moment.
- The app allows you to chat with those in your “Circle”. The app will track any lost or stolen Android on the live map.
- A car crash notification facility is also available. It asks for help from within the circle members.
- Driver Care Support is also available, with a single push of a button, to assist you in roadside situations such as jumps, tows, and lockouts.
The Prey Anti Theft app is free to use. Some of the features of the ‘Prey Anti Theft’ app are listed below.
- This app can track 3 different Android devices.
- You can make an alarm on the missing Android phone, which can not be muted.
- Screenshots can also be taken, if the lost phone is in use.
- You may lock the device, with a custom passcode remotely.
- Gets the device’s Mac Address.
- It allows to remotely take the device’s surroundings pictures.
- Even the high-end features are free.
There are tutorials inside the app that will show you how to track your lost Android phone.
3. Lost Android
Other than to locate the lost phone, the Lost Android app has the features which are listed below.
- Website for tracking the lost Android device.
- You can read any sent and received SMS messages on your lost Android mobile.
- Wipe the mobile phone and make erase the data.
- You can lock the phone.
- You can erase the SD card, SMS.
- Forward calls to another number.
- You can take a picture with the front or rear camera.
- You can also record sound from the microphone.
- Get phone status, battery, IMEI, etc.
- SMS can be locked or unlocked.
- Remote SMS alarm feature.
- Start or stop GPS.
- Start or stop WIFI.
- Hide from the launcher.
Where’s My Droid app allows you to track your Android devices. some of the features of ‘Where’s My Droid’ app are listed below.
- You can locate your lost Android phone, live on Google Maps.
- Where’s My Droid app allows you to ring your phone if it is lost or misplaced.
- You can use a password to prevent unauthorized alterations to the apps on your lost Android phone.
- Make the phone to vibrate or ring.
- Remotely lock device for Androids 6.0.1 or less.
- Passcodes to prevent unauthorized app changes.
- Location alert on low battery.
- Notification in the case of SIM card changes.
- Remotely wipe out any data from your lost Android phone.
- No battery drain.
- “Stealth Mode” prevents anyone from seeing your text messages. A customizable attention word tells them that the phone is lost or stolen.
The paid version has extra features which are listed below.
- Take pictures remotely with the camera.
- You can use a landline to access your phone.
- You can also lock the device, remotely.
- View Device Statistics and nearby WiFi devices.
- Prevents apps from being uninstalled.
- Motion Alarm.
- History. of locations.
- View Contacts.
Some of the features of the Lost Phone Tracker app are listed below.
- View your current location of the lost phone with GPS Tracker.
- Share “real-time location” with others.
- View the Map in Satellite view mode or street view mode.
- You can make the ring alarm even if your android phone is in silent mode.
- You can lock your lost device.
- Erase the data selectively.
- All data can also be wiped out.
6. IMEI Tracker (Pre-installation required)
IMEI Tracker app has the following features. This app needs to be pre-installed on your Android to get the features working.
- When a new SIM card is inserted into your Android phone with the app installed on it, it automatically sends SMS from the new SIM card. This SMS has details of the new mobile number, the name of the mobile operator, etc.
- You can store your family members’ or friends’ phone numbers in the app. In case that, it sends SMS to all those stored numbers, whenever a SIM card is changed.
- GPS Location information about the lost mobile can be accessed through the website.
- This app is password-protected so that others can not uninstall it.
Mobile Tracker for Android app allows to track your lost mobile and delete files. Some of the other features are listed below.
- Allow the phone to vibrate or ring remotely.
- You can even take pictures remotely.
- Delete any data from the lost mobile.
- GPS location tracking
- Record phone conversations.
- Automatic SMS / Email with detail about the new SIM card, if somebody changes the SIM card.
- Password protection.
“GPS Phone Tracker” app is a family android tracker app. It is one of the oldest apps in the market. We can call it a legacy app.
- Dedicated web interface to get an accurate location of your device.
- Smart dashboard with accessible location history of the device.
- It’s social too. It allows tracking the location of your dear and near ones.
9. xfi Locator
xfi Locator helps to find a lost Android device and also makes an alarm on the lost Android device if required. Some of the features of this Android tracking app is given below.
- Different map types including a street map
- You can use the app from another device to track a lost Android. A single device allows multiple accounts!
- You can use the website also to track a mobile.
- Allows ringing the lost device; though data can’t be erased.
Safe365 is one of the most simple apps for Android device tracking. Its features are listed below.
- It can show you the exact location of the lost Android device.
- It provides route and battery levels of the device.
- There is a “panic button” that will allow the user to send a distress signal with the details of their current location details.
Mobile Insurance Claim
If you have insured your Android mobile phone, you may need the following documents for insurance claim settlement.
- Properly filled application form; online or printed.
- Proof of purchase document.
- Detail of the Insurance scheme.
- If the insurance was provided free with the new phone, it should be written on the invoice.
- If it is part of any group insurance from your company, attach proof for that.
- Attach proof if you have insured the Android separately.
- A copy of the police complaint.
What is to be Done if You ever Lose Your Android Mobile.
I will explain to you what is to be done if you ever lose your Android mobile phone.
- If you are sure that your mobile is stolen and chances of getting it back are completely ruled out, use any mobile tracking app and erase the maximum possible data on your mobile.
- If it is stolen and you suspect that somebody may return it, use any mobile tracking app and locate it. Also, try to ring the phone. The thief might have abandoned the mobile, after trying in vain to unlock the device. You may send a text message with your alternate contact details so that somebody else who is in possession of it, can return it to you. You may also send a voice message, some people may not be proficient in the language you texted but may be able to follow it on hearing the details.
- If you have misplaced the Android phone while traveling and don’t remember where you left it, use a mobile tracking app and try to find the location. You might have forgotten it at a hotel, medial shop or a grocery store, etc. It may be lying without being noticed by anybody or somebody might have taken and kept it safe, waiting for the owner to contact them. If you could locate it, chances are that you will get it back with proper alert or messages.
- Contact your mobile phone carrier network and ask for guidance. They may advise to wait for a while or get the SIM card blocked. Based on the network carrier’s advice, you may decide what is best for you.
- In any case, if the phone is can not be tracked within a reasonable time (if you can’t track it within a maximum of one day or so), then you need to file a police complaint. Also, try to erase any data on the Android device through a mobile tracking app or the website meant for it.
- Submit the documents for an insurance claim, if the device was insured and is covered for the type of loss.
- Go to the respective websites and change any passwords which were stored on the mobile.
- Apps like Google Pay, Apple Pay, Spotify, Venmo, etc., may have attached card details. Please monitor for any suspicious activity or block and get a new card if necessary.
Tips on How to Avoid Losing your Costly Android Phone
- If you have any spare old phone, carry it while traveling by public transport. The main costly phone should be kept safe inside your baggage, which can be locked and kept.
- The above tip should be applied when you are visiting any crowded places or public places like the pool, beach, market, etc. Keep the costly phone inside your locked vehicle in silent mode.
- Try to carry your mobile phone only in the front pocket. This applies to ladies too, even if they carry a purse. This is because it is easier to snatch a purse or pick-pocket from your back pockets or backpack, than to pick-picket from your front pocket. The reason is simple. Your eyes are on the front!
- Some credit cards offer theft protection for your mobiles. If available, go for it. This is particularly true if you use your credit card to pay for your mobile bills.
Tips to be followed if you are able to Locate the Lost Mobile
Never confront a thief. Follow the instructions given below if you are in a position to locate the lost mobile phone.
- If your phone was lost or stolen and you are able to locate the location of the phone using any of the apps, do not go to the location.
- Seek the help of the local law enforcement agencies like the police.
- Let them go there or let them take you with them.
Conclusion: It’s worst than a nightmare in today’s world to lose your Android phone. If you lose your mobile, you are left with no means of contact or with very limited means of contact with the outside world.
I have listed some tips on how to avoid losing your costly Android mobile phones and what is to be done in the worst case of your Android mobile phone or tab is lost. I have also listed the requirements and the procedures for claiming the insurance amount if your Android mobile phone or any other Android device like the Android tab was lost. Tips on how to go about getting your lost mobile back, if the location is known to you, is also given in this article.
There are official apps from Google and Samsung to track Android devices. There are a large number of third party tracking apps too. Through the use of Android tracking apps, those who are in possession of the lost Android mobile can be alerted. They may return it to you (if they don’t mind doing so). If the lost Android mobile phone is switched off or stolen or GPS is switched off, nothing much can be done. You will not be able to track its location. You may still delete almost all data on your lost mobile phone so that your privacy is protected.
If you have previously logged into your Google account with the lost Android device, you have won half the battle. Your Android mobile can then be traced with Google “Find My Devie” app. There is a similar app from Samsung also, for its users. You need to login to your account with Samsung to use these features. Samsung app has more features than Google’s Android tracking app.
It is always in your best interest to know about the different apps to track lost mobiles. It is even better to have some Android tracking app installed on your mobile in advance so that you have better control over things to do in case your Android mobile phone or Android tab is lost. I have given the features of the official Android tracking app, “Find My Device”, along with ten third party Android tracking apps.