There are many reasons to want to track a cell phone for free. It could be used to either help or harm others, and the current technological world offers you plenty of ways to achieve cell phone tracking.
If you lost your cell phone and are trying to find it, you have some methods at your disposal that you could try.
If you want to track a cell phone for free to know the location of another person, either with or without their permission, there are also ways to do it according to your needs.
However, remember that there are a few cases in which it may be justified to track someone else´s cell phone without their permission, and there may be other times where doing so would have legal consequences.
In the following information, you will find how to track a cell phone for free, in which cases it won´t work, and the different methods that you could try.
We will talk a bit about GPS apps to track cell phones and mobile phones. We will analyze whether it´s possible to locate or find devices that may have been stolen or lost by using their respective cell phone number or by using the information that the device is sending via the internet or via satellite signal (geosignal.)
We will tell you in advance that there are applications, methods, and reliable services that, by explicitly giving us the owner´s permission, allow us to track, locate, and geolocalize any device at any moment.
These apps are available for both Android and iPhones. However, most people want to know the way to be able to track someone else´s cell phone in a way that the other party doesn´t know or notice that they are being tracked.
Trackers and mobile phone localizers exist, in the form of software, such as apps, and hardware, such as secondary devices. Also, there are free and paid versions of these localizers. Finding the location of a cell phone is possible and technically simple. For instance, nowadays, it is easy to locate in Google Maps the exact position of a person thanks to the GPS of their mobile phone.
Tabla de Contenido
- How do the tracking methods work?
- Cases in which it is not possible to track a cell phone for free
- How to track your own cell phone if you can install apps
- Using other apps
- How to track a cell phone using Google
- How to track your own cell phone if you don´t have access to it and can’t install anything
- Specialized apps
- How to freely track someone else’s cell phone without their permission
- How to legally track a cell phone
- ** Is it possible to track a turned-off cell phone?
How do the tracking methods work?
All modern smartphones, including some older mobile phones, have a GPS chip incorporated inside of them. Even though this technology was previously used only by the military, it can be currently found in almost all mobile devices and navigation systems, and it is used daily by users from all around the world.
The Global Positioning System (also known as GPS) is a network of approximately 30 satellites that orbit around the Earth constantly. Regardless of your location, there will always be at least four satellites that can pinpoint your location.
These satellites constantly transmit their own location, as well as the time. These signals are received by the GPS receiver in your cell phone, which can calculate the distance between your device and the satellite based on the time that took the signal to travel from the satellite to your device.
Most applications, devices, and services that allow you to track a cell phone for free use this system. However, there are cases when it is not possible to track a cell phone, even if it has a GPS chip.
Cases in which it is not possible to track a cell phone for free
Even though GPS technology may be very precise and use advanced technology, it is not difficult to avoid being tracked.
If you lost your cell phone, there are many ways to try to pinpoint its location. But, if it has been stolen, or if someone else found your cell phone, the only thing that they have to do to avoid being tracked is to turn it off, put it in airplane mode, or wait until the battery runs out **.
Your cell phone has to be connected to the internet to be able to send you its location. However, if the location history is activated, you might have the option to see what the last location of your cell phone was before it was turned off or disconnected from the internet.
However, you won´t be able to track a cell phone if the person that has it formatted it or restored it back to its factory settings. In this case, you will have lost the connection between your cell phone and your personal accounts such as the ones from Google, Samsung, iCloud, etc. With the exception of some premium tracking apps, you will also lose the applications that you may have installed, so you won´t be able to track your cell phone.
In case that the person that has the cell phone only changes the SIM card, you might have a chance to track your phone. In this case, your cell phone is still connected to the internet, so your accounts will still be active. Therefore, you will be able to use one of the methods that will be described later in this article.
How to track your own cell phone if you can install apps
If you are careful, you can install apps BEFORE losing your cell phone so that you can track it in case that you lose it or it gets stolen.
If you still have access to your cell phone, or if you are simply looking for a way to know the location of your cell phone in the future, try taking advantage of the applications that are installed by default on your phone, or install a free app that is designed to track a cell phone.
Using the location apps that come included from your device from Apple, Android, or even from other manufacturers such as Samsung, you can track your own cell phone. They offer apps that come installed in your cell phone before you even buy it, which allow you to track your phone. This is one of the easiest and safest ways to track your cell phone for free, but, in some cases, you will need to create an account or link one of your preexisting accounts with the tracking app.
Tracking a cell phone with Apple (iOS): Find My iPhone
If you lost your iPhone ** and you have an Apple ID, the only thing that you´ll need to track it for free will be a web browser or an iPad.
- Go to iCloud´s website, and select the option “Find My iPhone” on the landing page, or find the iCloud app that is installed by default on any iPad. You could even use this method in someone else´s iPad.
- Log in using your Apple ID and your password.
- Search the option “All devices,” and then select the device that you want to track.
- Once you select the device, you´ll see on a map where your iPhone is, or where its last recorded location was before it was shut down.
- Click or touch your iPhone´s location to select one of the following options:
- Play sound: Useful for finding your phone if you know that it´s nearby.
- Lost mode: Blocks your phone and shows a number where people can contact you.
- Erase: Deletes all content to protect your important information. Be careful, since this method is irreversible. Choose this option only if you´re sure that it´s not possible to retrieve your phone.
** Valid for iPhone, iPad, and laptops with Apple´s operating system.
On this video tutorial, this method is thoroughly explained, and you will that it is super easy:
Before continuing, I want to remind you that Google had been offering a service between the years 2009 and 2013 that allowed you to share your location with friends from your contact list. There were users that quickly used it to spy and track mobile phones. This service was called Google Latitude.
Tracking a cell phone with Apple (iOS): the new “Find My” *(even if it´s turned off)
The latest version of IOS, IOS13, is already here. One of its top features is the new “Find My” app. Find My will help you to locate your cell phone in case of loss or theft. The new app is the result of the merger of “Find my Friends” and “Find my iPhone” applications. Yes, it’s like that, there are no missing words.
The new app adds features that improve and simplify finding your iPhone when it has been stolen or lost. The key and more amazing feature is that “Find My” allows you to locate your iPhone even if it is in airplane mode or offline.
How is this possible? Find My will use bluetooth to send location information to other Apple devices with the collaboration of millions of Apple devices (already using IOS version 13 or higher). The information will be encrypted.
Fascinating, isn’t it?
Tracking a cell phone with Google (Android): Find My Device
To track a cell phone with this method, you will only need a Google account. How do you know if you have one? Well, if you´re using Gmail, I will confirm to you what you will need. Besides this, there is another requisite that you´ll need, which is to have the location services activated on your device.
Activating the location services is quite easy. There are two ways to do it, and these methods mostly apply to Android devices.
- Directly from the direct accesses from the notifications bar.
- From the Settings menu, click on “Location.”
If you are still confused, in this short video tutorial, you will see step-by-step how to do it.
If you lost an Android device connected to a Google account, follow these steps:
- Open a web browser, and go to android.com/find.
- Log in to your Google account.
- Choose the device that you wish to track.
- If the device cannot found, you will see its last recorded location.
- Choose one of the following options:
- Play sound: Your cell phone will play sounds for five minutes, even if you had put it in silent or vibration mode.
- Block: It forces the person who has it to dial your PIN, password, or pattern. We could even create a new password.
- Erase: Deletes all of your data in your cell phone. Keep in mind that this process is irreversible and, after doing it, you won´t be able to track your cell phone anymore. Choose this option only if you´re sure that it is not possible to retrieve your phone and that your device has very sensitive information.
Here is a video tutorial.
As we were saying, if you haven´t linked a Gmail account to your phone, and you haven´t activated the location services, this method is useless. But don´t give up. There are paid services that we will explain later that will allow you to activate the location remotely.
- These instructions are equally valid for giving you access from both a web browser and from the “Find My Device” app itself, which you can download from the following Play Store banner.
Samsung: Find My Mobile
Unlike Apple´s iCloud and a Google account on Android, users rarely create a Samsung account, and if they do, they don´t always link it to their cell phone. To be able to track your cell phone for free by using this method, you will have to create a Samsun account, and link it as an active account on your device. Once you have done this, follow these steps to find your cell phone:
- Open a web browser and go to https://findmymobile.samsung.com/.
- Log in using a Samsung account from the device that you want to track.
- Click on “Find my device” to see a map its current location or its last known location.
- Choose one of the following options:
- Play sound: Useful for finding it if you know that your phone is nearby.
- Block: It allows you to choose a new blocking code, and shows a message with a number where you can be contacted.
- Call history: You can see all recent calls made by your cell phone.
- Erase: Deletes all of your data from your cell phone. Keep in mind that this process is irreversible and, after doing it, you won´t be able to track you cell phone any longer. Choose this option only if you´re sure that it is not possible to retrieve your phone.
Tutorial video on how to use “Find my mobile” on Samsung:
If you have a Windows cell phone connected to a Microsoft account, you can track your cell phone for free from any web browser. You may have to activate this function beforehand on your cell phone´s settings. If it is already activated, do the following:
- Open a web browser, and go to account.microsoft.com/devices.
- Log in using the same Microsoft account that you use on the cell phone that you want to track.
- Choose the device that you want to track.
- Select “Find my device” to see its location on a map.
- Choose one of the following options:
- ◦ Play sound: Useful for finding your phone if you know that it is nearby.
- ◦ Block: It allows you to choose a new blocking code, and shows a message with a number where you can be contacted.
- ◦ Erase: Deletes all of your data from your cell phone. Keep in mind that this process is irreversible and, after doing it, you won´t be able to track you cell phone any longer. Choose this option only if you´re sure that it is not possible to retrieve your phone.
Using other apps
If, by any reason, you don´t want or can´t use the apps that are installed by default on your cell phone, you could install other apps that will allow you track your cell phone for free in the future. These apps are free, and some of them offer you options that aren´t offered by your phone´s default apps.
Cerberus is one of the most well-known apps to protect you against a possible robbery. This application offers a lot of functionalities from the Apple and Android default apps (play sound, screen blocking, show messages, erase information, etc,) but offers some extra functionalities such as the possibility of accessing the frontal camera to snap a photo of the person that has your cell phone.
Cerberus is only available for Android, and, even though it has a free version, you may have to pay to have access to more advanced functionalities.
More information about the Cerberus App can be found here.
This free app was exclusively designed to help you track your cell phone for free in case that it gets lost or stolen. It is lighter than other similar apps such as Cerberus, and it allows you to track your cell phone, block it, and activate an alarm.
Besides these basic functionalities, Prey also allows you to snap photos remotely.
It is available absolutely free in both iOS and Android.
How to track a cell phone using Google
This section could have been called “How to track a cell phone without doing anything,” since you won´t really need to install any new applications.
The methods that we will show you rely on the configuration that are often activated by default.
And, if they aren´t, we will teach you how to easily activate them.
Tracking a cell phone without using apps is possible. You´ll simply need to do a few things and have a bit of luck.
The good thing about these methods is that you won´t need to have much technical knowledge. You´ll just need to have the opportunity or permission to do it.
We will explain you this below.
For instance, if you are trying to pinpoint the location of your significant other without installing any programs, the thing that you will need is the opportunity. If you openly tell them that you want to know where they are at all times, regardless of if they are your significant other or just anyone else, they will most likely not like it.
You might need that the other person gets careless, or to use social engineering to make a small adjustment on their configuration.
Meanwhile, by permission (or consent) we mean when you are in your right to track the location of someone such as, for instance, your children, your parents of old age, or relatives with memory issues, such as people suffering of Alzheimer, etc, which are people that are assigned to be under your care.
In this second case, I would recommend the use of other specialized apps, since they offer advanced functionalities that would be very useful. For instance, Spyzie and MSpy, since they allow you to define areas or regions to receive notifications telling you when the other person´s cell phone enters or exits them. This is way more efficient and less stressful than having to constantly connect to an app to check a person´s location at every moment.
Methods to track a cell phone with using apps
In the following methods, we will need to rely on tools that Google often keeps activated by default or those that we have already activated to enjoy common and basic services.
These methods are:
• Check the location history.
• Share the real-time location with a contact.
Track a cell phone checking the location history in Google Maps
Google Maps is Google´s legendary free map service. From its launch back in 2005, Google Maps has evolved quite a lot, and it offers us a lot of interesting functionalities.
The following trick that we will tell you below could be used from the web or from an app installed on the device that you want to track. To do it from an app, you would need temporal access to the device, and, in case that it were blocked, you would also need the pattern, PIN, or password.
To do it from a web browser, you would need the username and password from the respective Google or Gmail account.
The functionality discussed in this tutorial to track a cell phone is called “Your chronology,” and it is nothing more than a history of locations.
After you access the service, you will be able to see all of the places that you have visited, as long as the location services and the location history had been previously activated.
In fact, the location / place service is one of the services that are always active, otherwise, we could activate them by doing this:
And, to activate the location history service, we would need to go to a PC, enter into a web browser, and then go to
with the Gmail / Google username and password linked to the cell phone that we want to track and, once done, activate the location history. If you share your computer, it is possible that you’ve had logged in into your device.
From the mobile app, we would click on the dropdown menu, and we would go to “Settings” -> “Google location settings” -> “Google location history,” and then, if the location history were unchecked, we would activate it.
Doing this would be enough to access the history location from the web browser. As you may have had noticed, this configuration tends to be activated by default. In most cases, we wouldn´t have to do anything.
A problem with this method, however, is that it would be a bit inconvenient since it would require you to be always logged in to check the location at any moment.
Track a cell phone sharing your location from Google Maps
This method is way more convenient than the previous one, since it allows us to see the location of a cell phone on a Google Maps map in real time.
To activate the option to share a cell phone´s location, there are two methods that we could use. This configuration, unfortunately, can´t be done from a web browser.
You may be thinking “Well, how could I access the app if the other person never stops using the cell phone.” We would have to link that Gmail account to another device. Well, we could either wait for the right moment, or, if you already know the username and password, configure it on a different device, that is, your own device. And, from there, activate the option to share location with the contact that you wish.
To see the cell phone’s location, we would only need to open the Google Maps app in our own device, and we would see the location of our shared account.
Track a cell phone with Google Home
Google Home can help you find your lost phone
We will mention this method as a fun fact. It is quite useful when you can´t find your cell phone in your own house.
If you have Google Home, that is, Google´s smart speaker/assistant, you could use it to find your lost Android device.
Google Home uses Google´s Assistant to help you find your phone. To do this, your Android cell phone must be logged in on the same account where your Google Home speaker is configured. Also, your mobile phone must be connected to the internet, and Find My Device must be active.
With the command “OK Google, find my phone,” and after confirming the device that you want to find (in case that you have many one linked to your account,) the cellphone´s ringtone will begin playing even if it is on silent mode.
How to track your own cell phone if you don´t have access to it and can’t install anything
If you lost your cell phone, and you didn’t take the precaution of installing a location app beforehand, there are other apps that could help you.
Just as we had previously mentioned in this article, the best method to track your phone is you didn’t install a special app is to use the default apps offered by Apple, Google, and other manufacturers such as Samsung.
These services tend to be activated from the moment that you link your accounts to your cell phone, so that, as long as the cell phone hasn’t been turned off, you will be able to track it. To see the specific instruction for your case, go to the section “Using the location apps that come included with your device” from this article.
Call your carrier:
Some service providers and carriers offer you the option of tracking your phone in case that it gets lost. Some offer it absolutely free as part of a subscription, while others charge you a fee for this service.
We recommend you to contact your service provider to know your options and prices, limits, and conditions that apply in your case.
Some providers also offer you apps that you can install beforehand on your cell phone so that you can track it for free. If you didn’t install this app before losing your cell phone, call your provider to know your options.
Use Dropbox or Google Photos:
If the person that has your cell phone has not logged out from your accounts, and keeps using your cell phone normally, you could activate the automatic sync option for your photos both in Google Photos and in Dropbox.
This way, each time that the other person snaps a photo, you will be able to see it instantly and try to use what you see or Google’s photo location functionality to pinpoint where your cell phone is located.
Track a cell phone using a phone number:
There are services that state that they can track a cell phone for free using only the phone´s number and without having to install any app.
Websites such as MasterLocate.com offer you the possibility to track a cell phone by only dialing the number. But, even though some users say that it works, a lot of people say otherwise.
Some of these services search for the number that you dial in a database to give you the cell phone owner’s recorded address. But if what you’re looking for is the real-time location of a device, this option is not for you.
How to track someone else’s cell phone with their permission
If what you’re looking for is a way to learn someone else’s location with their permission, there are a lot of apps designed precisely to do this.
You may be a parent that wants to know the location of your children, or maybe you simply want an app that shows you your significant other’s location in real-time when you know that they will be alone and you can’t go with them.
Some of these apps are made for families or for groups of friends, so sharing your location with many people is easy and quick.
Many social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, also allow you to share your location, as well as text message apps such as WhatsApp.
Any of these options allows you to share your location if you’re lost and don’t know how to explain where you are.
Default apps: iCloud and Google
If the person that you want to track is willing to share their information from their iCloud or Google account, you could use the default app to learn the real-time location of the other person.
To do it, go to iCloud’s website, or enter to android.com/find if you’re going to use a Google account.
Just like if you were to protect your own cell phone from being stolen, you can install apps such as Cerberus or Prey to allow you to know your cell phone’s location at any moment. You would have to install the app with the consent of the other person, and share the information that you have used to create an account within the app.
1. Find my friends
Once all parties had installed the app, you will be able to easily find your friends and relatives, look at them on a map, chat, and share locations.
The information that you see and share is in real-time. This is an excellent option for families that want to keep track of all of their members and for friends that leave late at night.
You can find a version of this app in both iOS and Android.
This app is for families that want to know the location of all of their members. Parents can remain calm knowing the location of their children, while said children can share their location quickly and tell their parents that they have arrived safely, without needing to make any calls.
This app allows you to send alert messages that reach all members, send text messages, and even send automatic notifications when any of the family members reaches a certain place.
Life360 is available for free in iOS and Android, but you will have to pay to access the most advanced functionalities.
The world of mobile phone security is in constant evolution, and it is worth learning the evolution of new apps, which are also very interesting, such as, for instance, Safe365.
How to freely track someone else’s cell phone without their permission
If you are in a situation in which you need to freely track someone else’s cell phone without their permission and without them noticing, there are apps designed for this precise purpose. However, keep in mind that in most countries tracking someone without their consent is illegal.
Installing an app without the other person noticing
The easiest of tracking someone else’s cell phone for free without them noticing is by installing any of the apps mentioned in this article.
If the person that you are trying to track is not very good at using smartphones, maybe they won’t notice that you had installed an app without their permission. If you want to be careful and make sure that the other person does not see the app, you can hide the icon, or even install programs designed to hide apps.
Install a specialized application (premium)
There are apps such as Spyzie designed to be installed without leaving any trace and without having to root the cell phone. Besides allowing you to track a cell phone for free without being noticed, you can also access other options such as watching the browsing history, the calling history, etc.
Using a GPS tracker:
If you truly are in a situation in which it is important to know the location of someone else in real-time, you can do it by using a GPS tracker instead of a cell phone. In other words, by using geosignal.
Nowadays, you can find trackers that are small and designed to be unnoticed (for instance, they may come shaped like a coin) that you can put in the clothes or suitcase of the person that you want to track. Once again, remember that in most countries it is illegal to track a person without their permission.
Websites that track devices by phone number and GPS
There are websites of all kinds that promise to geolocalize the position of devices by simply dialing their phone number. However, they aren´t too trustworthy.
Some of these websites are:
As we’ve said previously, they aren’t too reliable, so remain cautious while using them, and use them at your own risk.
On the following annex, we will leave you a list of apps and hardware devices that could make it easier for you to track cell phones and/or people.
How to legally track a cell phone
Let’s make it clear that it is legal to legally track a cell phone if that cell phone belongs to a person that is under your responsibility as a legal guardian: that is, people under your wing, such as elderly parents, your children, etc, or if it is your own cell phone. In other words, people that are under your power as indicated by a court order, even if it’s stated implicitly.
For any other case, it doesn’t matter what you read on other sites on the internet. The only thing that will truly protect your back is a written document done by the owner of the cell phone, to whom which you want to track by using any of the methods described in this article.
Think about whenever a carrier is asked about the location of a cell phone. In this case, unless you have a court order, it is impossible for them to give you that information.
** Is it possible to track a turned-off cell phone?
As mobile device users, one of the most frequently asked questions that we make ourselves is whether it’s possible to track a turned-off cell phone.
The reasons why this situation would make us uneasy are the previously mentioned ones: a device robbery, the device being lost, the worry of knowing someone’s whereabouts (a son or any other close relative, such as a significant other) whose cell phone is clearly turned-off and we don’t know where that person is, etc.
These are circumstances that could potentially occur and that, if they do happen, we would like to solve as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, the safest and most effective ways to locate lost cell phones have already been discussed throughout this article. Most of them require to plan ahead of time, and that the device is turned on, or that at least has some battery left.
However, there are options (but only a few, by the way) available that could help you if the cell phone has been turned off or if its battery ran out.
Then, is all hope lost if the cell phone is turned off, or is it still possible to track it?
Possibly yes, thanks to applications that work in a different way, but that you need to have downloaded and installed on your smartphone before the unfortunate event happens.
It is important to clarify that even though these are potential solutions, they are not a 100% effective way of searching and tracking your phone. However, they could still help a lot and give good results.
This situation could change soon, as we had previously mentioned above with the new “Find My” application from Apple devices that use the iOS 13 operating system. We will see if Android develops a similar app.
1. By tracking the IMEI code
The IMEI code is unique for each phone number. It is possible to track it via an app called Cell Phone Tracker, which is available for Android, iPhone, and PC.
How do I obtain the IMEI code?
This code should be kept from the moment that we get our smartphone for the first time in our hands. We obtain it by dialing: *#06#, without needing to dial the “call” button since, once we press the second “#”, the IMEI code shows up on our screen.
In case that you have an iPhone cell phone, the way to obtain it is: “Settings” > “General” > “Information” (this is where your IMEI code should appear.)
How does Cell Phone Tracker work?
If you can install it in another mobile device or in a PC, the device will show you a tracking map of your phone after you dial the phone number and the IMEI code of the lost cell phone.
The synchronization is done every two seconds, and you will see a dot moving on a map whenever your device moves. The app works with state-of-the-art technology, very similar to the GPS systems from the military, which uses up to five satellites to pinpoint the place where your device is located.
Now, you may wonder whether this process only works while the cell phone is turned on. The answer is yes. Then, how does the application really help you since the problem is that the cell phone is turned-off?
Well, it is possible to keep pinpointing the location of the device, even after 48 hours have passed (or within the 48 hours) after the phone has been turned off. The location turns out to be quite accurate, reason why we encourage you to try Cell Phone Tracker. After 48 hours, it will only offer us the last time that an accurate location was reported.
2. With the Lookout Antivirus & Security application for Android
Lookout Antivirus & Security is a free app available on Google Play Store that, besides its main functionalities such as an antivirus, it also offers you security in other circumstances.
It has been downloaded over 100 thousand million times, and has 4.4 stars based on user reviews. Its size is relatively small since it only occupies 13 megabytes, so it won’t occupy much storage space. It is compatible with Android 4.4 and newer versions.
Among its functionalities include a super interesting tracking one, and is the functionality that is important to tell you according to the topic that we’ve been discussing: cell phone tracking even while they are turned-off.
Lookout Antivirus & Security uses a functionality called “Signal Flare,” which is capable of automatically storing your mobile phone’s location when the battery is about to run out. This functionality is linked to the last internet connection. If you notice, it’s not like it will give an accurate report, but it will still be a close approximation to search and locate your device.
Now, as we have told you at the beginning, the safest and most effective ways to locate lost or stolen mobile phones require the cell phone to be turned on and connected to the GPS, Google Maps (in Android’s case) or iCloud (in iPhone’s case.) The most recommended method is that you always make sure that the tracking apps are safe, since a lot of them tend to be fake and could potentially put your device at risk.
There are a lot of reasons to want to track a cell phone for free, and there are a lot of methods that could adjust to your needs. If you lost your cell phone or if it got stolen, you could use the default apps, as well third-party apps, to pinpoint the location of your cell phone.
If you want to know in real-time the location of your friends and relatives, there are applications such as Find My friends that allows you to know where your loved ones are. Regardless of your reasons, the technology of our modern era gives you many possibilities in your hands. Remember to use these tools in a responsible manner, and you will always require consent from the other person.
Did any of these methods help you find a cell phone that you thought you had lost? Do you know other ways to track a cell phone for free that could help other people? Share your experience and knowledge down below in the comments.