Google and Apple make it possible to track the phone in case of loss or theft. How does it work? What exactly should be done to recover a lost or stolen smartphone?
If your smartphone is lost or stolen, you don’t necessarily have to say goodbye to it once and for all. The Android operating system uses location data to track hardware. Similarly, Apple has created an application that will help you find your phone. It is possible thanks to the collection of location data from various sources: e.g. GPS or Wi-Fi signal. Although obtaining them may be questionable in terms of privacy, it is definitely helpful in locating a mobile phone in the event of theft or loss.
How to track a lost Android phone?
Android has a built-in feature called “Find Phone”. It is linked to the Google account to which the device must be assigned. From a computer or other hardware that has access to your Google Account, you can initiate a search for your lost or stolen phone.
When you select this option, you can easily find the last location of the device from which it sent information to the network. It is displayed on the map, taking into account the margin of possible geographic error – thanks to this tracking of a lost phone it becomes much easier. This allows you to quickly determine whether the smartphone was actually lost or stolen (e.g. if it is located where the owner did not take it to).
How to track an iOS phone?
Apple also made sure that users of this brand’s smartphones could easily carry out a quick tracking of the phone using GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. As with Google, this feature is closely related to location search. There are two ways to find a device in the Apple ecosystem:
- the “Locator” application that runs on any Apple mobile device,
- the iCloud website.
By using both the first and the second option, the user can quickly obtain information on the location of his telephone. It is worth noting that the common feature of Android and iOS is the remote locking of the phone, which can be turned on provided that the phone has enabled cellular data or Wi-Fi.
When to contact your operator?
When using the above options, remember that they track the phone as a device, and the SIM card remains active, even if the smartphone is completely blocked via Apple ID or Google account. The operator of your mobile network is responsible for managing the functionality of the SIM, who should be contacted immediately in the event of theft of the phone. What can an operator do in such a situation?
Due to the loss of a smartphone, the operator can take some basic steps:
- blocking the SIM card,
- supplying a duplicate SIM card,
- blocking the device by IMEI number.
If you find that your smartphone has been stolen, don’t wait – block your SIM card as soon as possible. The new “owner” of your device may charge your wallet if you do not properly lock it. It is worth adding that the SIM lock as well as phone tracking are just some of the steps you can take – one of them is the IMEI lock as well. This abbreviation stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. The IMEI consists of a unique fifteen-character serial number that is assigned to each mobile device in the world.
What is the difference between IMEI lock and remote phone lock with Apple ID or Google account, as well as SIM restriction? Entering IMEI on the “black list” makes it impossible to use the phone in any cellular network, regardless of the card inserted into it. The SIM card lock is limited to the card itself.
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Blocking the device based on IMEI by the operator is the most complicated activity from all the actions described above. First, you must report the theft to the police. In addition, you must prove that you are the rightful owner of the stolen phone, for example by using the factory packaging or a receipt from the store. After that, you can take the documents issued by officers to any facility of your operator, thanks to which he will be able to block the smartphone.
Some people do not specifically block IMEI due to the fact that in such a situation the equipment is still “in circulation”, and thus, it is possible to detect it. Every smartphone user should be aware that his capabilities do not end with trying to track a lost phone. If they wish so and take appropriate steps, they can make sure that it is virtually impossible to use the smartphone.
Programs for tracking the phone
An alternative solution could be to locate mobile phones with the help of external applications, such as Prey or Airdroid. This software has similar functionality. It is able to send information about the device’s location via the cellular network or Wi-Fi, usually with a very small margin of error, so you can quickly check the location of the phone. In some cases, phone tracking software has more advanced functions than the pre-installed applications. They can take a picture with the device’s front or rear camera, play a specific sound, and even get a screenshot of the activities performed on the device’s screen. The phone tracking programs are constantly expanding their functionality and speed, thanks to which they are becoming more and more reliable substitutes for factory applications.
Beware of scammers!
The Internet is full of websites offering supposedly great applications to track the phone by its number, as well as programs with functionality similar to the one described above. However, a significant part of them is a scam by which criminals obtain personal data of gullible users. Before using any mobile tracking program, check for reviews about it – both in the Google Play Store and the App Store, and preferably also on forums and independent sites. All activities related to the recovery of a lost phone should also be performed with extreme caution – even in such situations it is not difficult to come across scammers. Meet the finder in a public place, do not give him your address, and reveal as little information about yourself as possible.
So finding a phone requires not only the right software and hardware to be secured, but also a bit of luck and caution. However, it is best to prevent theft at all and always vigilantly protect your smartphone against thieves.