10 ways of finding a lost or stolen cell phone

Unfortunately, it is highly likely that we will someday put our hands in our pocket only to get an unpleasant sensation in our stomach since we don’t feel that our cell phone is there. You look for it everywhere, until you have no other option than to accept that your phone has been stolen or got lost.

However, the technology available to everyone nowadays could help you in more ways than you think. Before giving up and start saving money during months to be able to buy a new one, try one of the options that we will show you below.

1. Through Google and Apple

Encontrar movil robado con Apple
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Both Google and Apple (and even Windows Phone and Samsung) offer their own methods to track your cell phone, and they also offer many other useful functionalities if you end up losing your phone.

These functions are included in your cell phone by default, so you won’t have to install anything. The only thing that you’ll need is a linked Google or iCloud account, which is what you’ll usually do in most cases.

If you lost your phone while you were riding your bike, if you could have lost it on a taxi, if someone else found your cell phone without the intention of stealing it, or in any other situation where your phone is still on, this is the perfect option for you.

On Apple (iOS): Find My iPhone

1. In an iPad (either your iPad or someone else’s,) find the app “Find My Phone,” which comes installed by default, or open any web browser on any device and go to iCloud’s website, and then look for the option “Find My Phone.”
2. Log in by typing your Apple ID and your password.
3. On “All devices,” you will see all the devices that are linked to your account alongside their respective model and information. Select the device that got either lost or stolen.
4. Both in the app and on the web browser, you will see a map that will show either your iPhone’s location or its last recorded location.
5. Touching or choosing your iPhone on the map will allow you to make it ring, block it, show up a number where the person that finds it could call you, or delete your phone’s information in order to protect your important information.

On Google (Android): Find My Device
1. Open any web browser on any device and access to android.com/find, or type “Find My Device” on Google’s search engine.
2. Log in by typing your email and your password, and select your lost device that you are trying to find.
3. You will see your cell phone’s location on the map or its last recorded location.
4. If it appears on the map, you will be able to make it ring even if it was on vibrate or silent mode, block it so that its asks the user to dial a PIN number, or erase all of your cell phone’s information.

These two options could be all you need if you lost your cell phone, but both of them have the same limitations.

If your cell phone is turned off or if the GPS not activated, you won’t be able to track your device. However, even if it’s turned off, both options will allow you to see the history of all the locations broadcasted by your cell phone before it was turned off.

2. Using other apps


Recuperar movil perdido o robado
Photo by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash

Besides the preinstalled apps, you could also install specialized apps that allow you to track your cell phone in case it gets lost or stolen. But, unlike Google and Apple’s default apps, these apps must be manually installed BEFORE losing your cell phone.

There are many apps that allow you to find a lost or stolen cell phone, but Cerberus and Prey are some of the most popular ones. Both options allow you access your account from other devices or from a web browser to see the location of your device, make it ring, block it, show an onscreen message, and delete your information remotely.

Unlike the apps offered by Google and Apple, these apps also allow you to take photos silently by using the frontal camera or the back camera.

3. Through nearby Wifi spots and GSM technology

Find cell phone, wifi or gsm
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Apps such as Hoverwatch allow you to find your lost or stolen cell phone using other methods. This app allows you to know your phone’s location using the GPS system, just like in many other apps, but it also allows you to see the Wifi spots near your cell phone to try to pinpoint its location, even if the GPS is not activated.

Also, even if both the GPS and the Wifi are deactivated, this kind of apps allow you to know the location of your phone by measuring the distance between it and the nearby antennae or cell phone towers (GSM).

4. Using a GPS location service

Encontrar movil robado mediante localizacion GPS

There are businesses and apps specialized in GPS location services, which could help you find a lost or stolen cell phone. These services do not require your phone to be connected to the internet, but they do require you to avoid deactivating the GPS signal.

Businesses like Accutracking are specialised on GPS location services, and it works on Android, iOS, and even GPS tracking devices. Once you have installed this paid app, you will be able to track your phone in real time, receive alerts, generate reports, and much more. Accutracking also sells its own trackers which, as you will see below, they are another way of finding your cell phone if you lost it or if it was stolen.

5. Using a GPS tracker

Gps Locator
Photo by Mia Baker on Unsplash

Nowadays, there are many types of GPS trackers, which come in different sizes, types, and prices. A GPS tracker is a small device that emits a GPS signal that could be tracked via a web browser or an app.

There are both wired and wireless trackers, the latter are the most used ones since they are fully portable, and they don’t need to be connected to anything.

If losing your cell phone (or any other device such as your computer) is something that really worries you, consider buying a GPS tracker that you could attach as an ornament or as part of the case.

Nowadays, you can find trackers of the size of a coin, and at affordable prices. These trackers usually come with their own tracking system, which you could access through a web browser, but apps such as Accutracking also allow you to connect any tracker to their system.

The only disadvantage of using this method is that small and cheap GPS trackers have a limited battery. If you decide to use this method, you will have to get the habit of charging the tracker regularly.

6. Using your phone number

If the person that has your cell phone turned off both the Wifi and the GPS, or if these options weren’t activated when you lost it, your options are limited.

You may have seen on the movies that it may be possible to find a lost or stolen cell phone using only the phone number, but, in reality, this is reserved only for governments and the authorities on important situations. However, this doesn’t mean that finding your lost phone by only using the number is impossible, but it certainly is much more complicated than using the other options on this list.

To track a cell phone by using the number, you will have to send a small virus that accesses the GPS settings of your device and then turn it on. Wifi doesn’t need to be activated to make this method work since the virus is sent via a text message, but the device needs to be turned on.

I this is the case, you will have to send a convincing and attractive text message to make the person that has your cell phone to click on the message’s link. Once they do that, the virus will be installed silently by itself by activating the GPS signal, which will allow you to use many of the methods previously mentioned on this article.

Remember that using methods such as this is only legal only if you use it on your own cell phone. If you have IT skills, this method may be perfect for you if you are on a difficult situation where it is really important that you find your cell phone.

7. Using the IMEI number

Just like using your phone number, finding a lost or stolen cell phone by only using your IMEI number tends to be reserved for cases where the authorities are involved. Your IMEI code is a unique ID number that doesn’t depend on your phone number, cell phone brand, nor your carrier. Instead, this number makes you be able to tell your device apart from any other device in any other place in the world.

Some carriers in certain countries could track your cell phone by using the IMEI number by using GMS technology by trying to learn the location of your cell phone using calculations to measure the distance and the angles between the phone signal that your cell phone receives and the antennae or towers that broadcast it.

Not all carriers have the required technology to use this method, and, in other cases, they can only use it on important cases where the authorities are involved. Call your carrier to obtain more information.

8. Use Dropbox or Google Photos

Although it may seem like an unreliable option that you would use only as a last resort, truth is that it has worked in many cases, and it has allowed many people to find their cell phone.

If your phone has the automatic photo sync option activated, you could see the photos that the person who has your phone took, and try to learn their identity, the places that they visit, and/or their current location.

This allows you to report the thief and gives you the possibility of retrieving your cell phone with the help of the authorities. To view the photos, simply access your Dropbox or Google Photos account, and check if there are any photos that had been uploaded automatically after losing your cell phone.

Unfortunately, a lot of robberies are made among classmates, by people that simply found your lost cell phone, or in similar situations where the person is not a seasoned thief. In these cases, the person who has your cell phone may continue to use your device during times when they think it’s safe to do so and take photos that may end up being useful to retrieve your phone.

9. Call your service provider

Track a cell phone by number
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

If all the other options fail, you could also call your service provider and ask if they could do something for you to help you retrieve your lost or stolen cell phone.

Even if they couldn’t help you track it, they could tell you what are the steps needed on the country where you live in.

A lot of carriers can block your SIM so that the thief won’t be able to use your cell phone data, your phone service, nor have access to your information, while others could even use your IMEI number to block the entire device and prevent the person with your phone from using it.

In some cases, it is necessary to report a robbery at a police station to be able to block your SIM or the device.

You may also be advised to report the robbery alongside your IMEI number so that they add it to the list of stolen phones, so that the phone becomes unable to access the network.

10. Report the robbery to the corresponding authorities

Finally, the last thing that you could do to try to find a lost or stolen cell phone is to report it to the authorities in charge of these cases.

Usually, the only thing that you’ll need to do is to go to the closest police station and explain when and under what circumstances your phone was stolen. In most cases, the police won’t be able to easily find your cell phone, they may catch a thief, make a raid or, if for any other reason the police receives cell phones without an owner, they may look at their IMEI codes to see if one of them matches the one in your phone and they may be able to contact you.

Also, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you keep in mind that using any of the aforementioned methods of this article may show the location of you cell phone, but you must always contact the authorities and let them be in charge of retrieving your phone. Going alone where the thief is located and trying to confront them yourself is not a very smart decision.

Finally, remember that many carriers and insurance companies need that your report the robbery and that you carry any documents that prove it.


The technology that is either built-in in any smartphone or at anyone’s disposal offers you many ways of retrieving your lost or stolen cell phone. These methods have been tested time after time, and they have helped many people to retrieve their cell phone.

The effectiveness and complexity of these methods depend on the situation where you lost them and whether your phone keeps broadcasting a GPS signal that could be tracked. But even if this is not the case, there are other methods that could help you retrieve your phone.

Many of the methods mentioned in this article will show you the exact location of your cell phone, but it is important that you contact the authorities so that they help you retrieve it, instead of trying to do it on your own.

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