2 Easy Ways to Recover A Lost or Stolen Android Phone

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find lost android phoneSmart phones are expensive, so it’s a really big deal when yours is lost or stolen. If you have an Android phone, however, there are some great, free applications available to help you find a lost android phone.

In this guide, I’ll tell you about two applications, separated by severity of the missing phone: misplaced somewhere close to you (like under a couch cushion) or lost outside of your home or worse, stolen.

Missing Phone Level 1:  No Big Deal, I Know It’s Around Here Somewhere…

find lost android phoneThis method should be used if you’ve simply misplaced your phone somewhere within earshot, like if it’s under a couch or in the pocket of a jacket.

With the Where’s My Droid application, you can easily find your phone (even if it’s on vibrate or silent mode) by texting it a special code. When your phone receives the code, it will play an alert at maximum volume until you discover the missing phone.

Where’s My Droid also has the ability to reply to you with your phone’s GPS location and a link to it on Google Maps.

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find lost android phoneStep 1: Download and install the free Where’s My Droid application from the Android Market.  You can also download this app by scanning the barcode on the right with the Barcode Scanner app.

Step 2: You’ll want to change the default “secret message” that activates your phone’s alarm, since anybody could trigger it if they knew the default setting.

Open Where’s My Droid in the app drawer and change both the Attention word and Attention word GPS. You can also change how long the alert plays when triggered in this menu.

android locate lost cell phone

Be sure to note that for the GPS feature to work, you must have GPS enabled on the phone.

Step 3: When you can’t find your phone, simply send a text message to your phone from another phone with the secret message you set in Step 2.  Your phone will immediately play an alert at maximum volume so you can easily find your lost Android phone.

If you don’t have another phone to text with, you can send an email to your phone number and it will work just the same. All you need to do is use the format below and substitute your phone number for phonenumber.
T-Mobile: phonenumber@tmomail.net
Verizon: phonenumber@vtext.com
Virgin Mobile: phonenumber@vmobl.com
Cingular: phonenumber@cingularme.com
Sprint: phonenumber@messaging.sprintpcs.com
Nextel: phonenumber@messaging.nextel.com

Missing Phone Level 2: AHHH! It’s Really Lost (or Stolen)

android locate lost cell phoneThis method should be used if you’ve left your phone in a public area, or somewhere out of earshot. This is especially useful if you left your phone at a bar, restaurant, taxi, or at a friend’s place – somewhere that a person might be holding it for you to pick up.

This method can also be used if your phone has been stolen (or if someone accidentally took it), but be sure to read the disclaimer below.

Note: If your phone has been knowingly stolen, it is in your best interest to report it to the proper legal authorities. This guide may still be able to assist them (or you) in recovering the phone – but do not attempt to recover the phone if an malicious party has stolen it. Don’t be a hero, phones can be replaced!

With the Mobile Defense application (which Ryan previously covered), you can remotely track your phone using its GPS from any browser. You can also perform advanced features like remotely lock, back up, or completely wipe your phone to protect your privacy.

android locate lost cell phone

Step 1: Download and install the free Mobile Defense application from the Android Market. You can also download this app by scanning the barcode to the right with the Barcode Scanner app.

You will need to complete a brief registration process after installing Mobile Defense to activate it. Once Mobile Defense has been installed, it will run silently in the background so nobody will ever know it is installed.

Step 2: In the event that you lose your phone, head to the Mobile Defense online dashboard and log in with your account. Click the Map tab to open the remote controls.

On the right side of the screen, you will see any phones you have registered with Mobile Defense. Click Connect to Phone to activate the Mobile Defense software.

When a connection has been established, you will see your phone’s location embedded in a Google Map. With this menu, you can view details about your phone and issue commands. Since this is based off of Google Maps, you can view traditional maps, satellite imagery, or a hybrid of the two.

The Details menu contains everything you need to know about your phone’s location, including latitude, longitude, and speed. You can also monitor the phone’s connection status and battery level.

Going back to the main Mobile Defense map, you can click the Alert button to send a message to the phone. If you enable the Sound option, your phone will play an incredibly loud car alarm which will definitely get the attention of whoever has it. The Sound feature could also be useful if you’re physically near the phone but in a large crowd.

The Require Pin feature keeps your message on the screen until a special code is entered.

Conclusion

With Where’s My Droid and Mobile Defense, you will have a powerful arsenal to recover your phone if it ever leaves your possession.

I recommend keeping your GPS enabled at all times for these applications to be truly helpful (because of Android security restrictions, applications cannot activate your phone’s GPS). I was leery about keeping my GPS activated at all times because I didn’t want it to drain my battery, but I haven’t noticed any substantial drops in battery life during the several months I’ve been using these applications.

Do you have any other recommendations for applications that can help you find a lost or missing Android phone? Share them with us in the comments!

Photo credits: mac morrison, willholmes, RBerteig

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Comments (13)
  • lilian

    Helllo ..what if the thief has already done factory reset…? What is the maximum time that i can track my stolen phone?

  • Dr. Watson

    See, my problem is that I live on 40 acres of land, and my phone fell out of my pocket at some point while I was walking… Even worse, I am out of data, and it has been lost for 3 days now, somewhere in the infinate leaves. FML

  • usb flash drive

    You can backup text messages and contacts, and the program’s online server to keep a copy of your phone’s data synced. Also, if your phone is stolen, you can track it down, find it on Google maps, and also remote lock it or wipe it completely. Works great!

  • imdragon

    I agree, with Elena. Not sure what the subscription status is of WaveSecure now, it seems like I have a free lifetime subscription for being an early beta tester but it does remote lock, remote backup, remote wipe, you can also schedule automatic backups as well. It also has the ability to make it impossible to uninstall.

    I will try Mobile Defense as it looks pretty neat as well, but I like my WaveSecure :D

  • Evan Wondrasek

    Hi Jac,

    Once the phone has been turned off, applications can no longer interact with it. The best you can do is hope the thief leaves the phone on, which from my research happens more than you would think.

    In the old days (before apps), if your phone was lost or stolen, it was usually gone forever. Yhis at least gives us some options! :)

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.