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Finding Your Lost Android Phone

Our Android phones are one of the most personal computers that we have since we carry them with us wherever we go due to their usefulness and versatility. But with that convenience comes a high risk of eventually misplacing or losing them. Thankfully, solutions are at hand and if we invest just a few minutes of our time in enabling those solutions, such as Android Device Manager, we can make those moments when our phones are missing less stressful because we’ll have the ability to track it and wipe our private information if the worst happens.

How to Enable Location Tracking For Your Android Phone or Tablet

Note: This method will enable Android Device Manager on your smartphone but only works on Google certified Android devices. Also, the steps may vary depending on your OS version and smartphone model.

1. Open the app drawer.

2. Tap on Google Settings.

3. Choose the Security section.

4. Ensure that the Remotely Locate This Device option is turned on. If it is disabled, enable it.

How to Locate Lost Your Android Phone Using Your Web Browser

Once you have enabled Android Device Manager, you can easily find your device on any web-enabled device.

1. Open your web browser of choice.

2. Head over to www.google.com/android/devicemanager

3. Enter your Google account credentials to sign in. Make sure that you’re using the same Google account as the one on your misplaced Android phone.

4. Wait for Android Device Manager to locate your lost phone. In order for your device to be found, it needs to have Internet access either via Wi-FI or a cellular connection. In a few seconds the map should zoom in at the approximate location of the device.

Android Device Manager

What Actions Can I Perform With Android Device Manager?

Now that you know where your lost Android phone is, you can interact with it in a limited way through Android Device Manager. Here are the things that you’re able to do:

  • Erase is the last line of defense. If the worst has happened and you doubt you’ll ever see your phone again, you can at least protect it by restoring it to factory settings, erasing all personal data in the process. If your device is offline at the time you activate the Erase function, the reset will be carried out as soon as the phone goes online. A couple of things should be notes regarding the Erase process:
  • Lock will let you set a custom password on your device. This password needn’t be the same one as your Google credentials and in fact you’re warned against using your Google password. You can optionally set a message to be displayed on the lock screen as well.
  • Ring will play a continuous sound for five minutes at maximum volume. A great solution if you’ve lost your smartphone somewhere in the house. To stop the ringing once you’ve found your phone, just press the power button.
    • It’s irreversible. Once you press that Erase confirmation button, that’s it – your data is gone.
    • If you have an SD card into the lost Android device, the data on that SD card may not get entirely erased.
    • Android Device Manager will stop tracking the device once it’s erased, so you will no longer be able to see it on a map on use the Ring/Lock functions.
    • Unless it’s specifically implemented by the device manufacturer, no blocks are set on the erased device. This means that whoever finds it can start using it as their own.

Are there alternatives?

Yes indeed. Due to the more open nature of Android, 3rd party developers can design their own security suites and distribute them through the Play Store. This means you can get apps that not only track your device, but also scan for viruses or capture the faces of people attempting to unlock your device. Lookout and Cerberus are two well established and trusted offerings and are a good place to start.

About Iskren Donev

App developer by day, tech writer by night. Avid podcast listener and a superhero in disguise.