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If your phone was stolen tomorrow, what would you do?

None of us want to believe that our phones might get stolen 2 Easy Ways to Recover a Lost or Stolen Android Phone 2 Easy Ways to Recover a Lost or Stolen Android Phone These methods can help you find your lost or stolen Android phone or tablet. Read More , but the truth is that it could happen to anybody — no matter how careful you are. So just to be safe, it’s always a good idea to have some sort of anti-theft app on your device.

Google offers a very simple, built-in option called Android Device Manager that can locate your device Find My iPhone for Android? Meet Android Device Manager Find My iPhone for Android? Meet Android Device Manager Jealous of the iPhone's Find My iPhone app? Well, lucky for you there's an equally awesome app for Android called the Android Device Manager! Let's take a look at it. Read More if it goes missing, but today we’re taking a look at four of the best third-party options for protecting your device.

Lookout

lookout

Lookout has a lot of different security features all bundled into one. The free version only has a few basic functions: locate your device if it’s lost or stolen, and scan your apps to make sure they’re safe. The app-scanning feature isn’t all that necessary Does Your Smartphone Need Security & Antivirus Software? Does Your Smartphone Need Security & Antivirus Software? Does your Android phone need an antivirus? What about your iPad? Your BlackBerry or Windows Phone? The answer is actually a bit complicated. Let's take a look at your options. Read More unless you’re downloading apps outside of the Google Play Store Is It Safe to Install Android Apps from Unknown Sources? Is It Safe to Install Android Apps from Unknown Sources? The Google Play Store isn't your only source of apps, but is it safe to search elsewhere? Read More , but it can help give you peace of mind.

If you’re willing to pay for Premium, you get a lot more features. The Safe Browsing feature alerts you to websites that are trying to steal your information, Privacy Advisor limits permissions for certain apps What Are Android Permissions and Why Should You Care? What Are Android Permissions and Why Should You Care? Do you ever install Android apps without a second thought? Here's all you need to know on Android app permissions, how they've changed, and how it affects you. Read More (though Android 6.0 Marshmallow and newer has this built in), you can get Theft Alerts when suspicious activity occurs on your device, you can remote Lock and Wipe your device, you can backup your photos 5 Tools to Sync & Auto-Upload Photos from Android to Cloud Storage 5 Tools to Sync & Auto-Upload Photos from Android to Cloud Storage Nothing is more convenient than taking a photo on your phone and automatically having it be backed up to the cloud. Read More and call logs, and you can get Breach Reports for when a service you use is hacked.

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The Premium cost is either $3 for a month or $30 for a year. If you don’t plan on getting the Premium version, Lookout’s free version doesn’t offer a whole lot, even though the app is sleek and Lookout is a reputable company that’s been doing this for a while.

Download for Android: Lookout (Free)

Cerberus

cerberus

With Cerberus, you get a lot more features — but that can also make it kind of complex for some folks. While Cerberus can send commands to your device over the internet (ring, lock, and wipe), it can also send commands using SMS if your phone is unable to connect to the internet.

Plus, it contains a multitude of other features, like the ability to alert you if the SIM card is changed, the ability to take photos or video when someone else tries to access your phone, and the ability to create your own AutoTask in the form of “if this happens, do this” (like a security-oriented Tasker or IFTTT Tasker and IFTTT: The Perfect Automation Duo For Android Tasker and IFTTT: The Perfect Automation Duo For Android Tasker automates anything you can think of on your Android device and IFTTT automates Web services. Used together, there's nothing you can't do. Read More ). That AutoTask feature has a ton of possibilities, like “if the battery is about to die, send out your location”, or “if the wrong unlock code is entered, set off an alarm”.

If you dig into it, Cerberus can really do anything. You only get a week for free, after which you have to buy a license — but that’s actually pretty cheap. A Cerberus license for one year for one device is only 5 euros (roughly $5). For the security pros, try out this app.

Download for Android: Cerberus (Free)

Prey

prey

Prey is the cross-platform solution that can track phones, laptops, tablets, and all sorts of devices. It doesn’t do much else, but it’s dedicated to doing this part right.

If a device goes missing, you just mark it missing on the website and the device can send out its location, take photos, display a specialized message, lock itself down, and sound a loud alarm. You can also set up Control Zones to be notified if your device leaves that area.

The free version allows for 20 reports, 1 Control Zone, and 3 devices. For $5 a month, you can get more Control Zones and reports, and for $15 a month you can add more devices.

The app itself was finicky and laggy on my device, so I wasn’t too impressed with it, but it does seem that they’ve helped a lot of people recover stolen devices. If you’re looking to protect multiple devices, it might be worth a look.

Download for Android: Prey (Free)

Where’s My Droid

wheres-my-droid

Where’s My Droid offers a bunch of features, but it manages to organize them in a more user-friendly way than Cerberus. There’s a little status bar along the top to help you get the app fully setup, and then it shows all the things you can do.

In the free version, that’s: locate the device, ring the device, set a passcode, and send an alert when the SIM is changed. You’ll also notice small banner ads along the bottom. You can get rid of the ads and add a few more features (like taking photos, locking and wiping the device, and hiding the app icon) for a one time payment of $3.99 for the Pro version.

Or you can subscribe to the Elite version for $0.99 a month or $8.99 a year, and that gives you even more features, like geofencing, location history, device stats, and more.

Overall, Where’s My Droid offers a surprisingly wide range of features for a relatively cheap price — and it works smoothly.

Download for Android: Where’s My Droid (Free)

Which Is the Best?

Personally, I’m a fan of Where’s My Droid. It’s not that expensive at all, it’s easy to navigate, and it does everything you could possibly want from an anti-theft app. Cerberus is a close second but it’s a tad more confusing to use.

Lookout has a solid reputation but is just too expensive and offers too many frivolous features in my opinion. And Prey’s laggy Android app was pretty disappointing, but the service itself seems powerful.

What is your favorite anti-theft app? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!

Originally written by Riley J. Dennis on August 6th, 2013.

  1. nirmal
    January 21, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    is these apps remains active if some one factory reset android phone .becoz in factory reset process all the apps which are installed by user removes fully with all gmail ,yahoo or other accounts.

  2. Wikifo Blog
    November 18, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Which phone user will track at first the phone must be determined then through other phone or computer must login the Google id of the user by going to http://www.google.com/android/devicemanager this site.

  3. Wikifo Blog
    November 18, 2015 at 6:23 am

    It is service of Google. Going to the device manger site of Google, user can lock the phone remotely; setting tone reset the phone and can see the location of his mobile through Google map.

    • Wikifo Blog
      November 18, 2015 at 6:25 am

      Necessary things-
      • Turn on internet in user mobile.
      • A Google id must login user mobile.
      • The device manager must on in user mobile.
      • The location service of phone must on.
      • User can’t see phone location if he doesn’t open map but other tasks can be done.to be continuu

  4. Sam Dominic
    September 2, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Cerberus revokes its lifetime license!! Do not fall for this company's claim that it is a one time fee! I am not so sure why everyone is so upset about the lifetime license expiring. Perhaps when LSDroid offered the lifetime license, it was the lifetime of their already aging goldfish. As long as they kept "Bubbles the goldfish" alive, the Cerberus lifetime license was in effect. Rather than complaining about this license expiring, perhaps we should be sending condolence cards to Bubbles. I can tell you that I am not going to be suckered into paying for another "lifetime license" without knowing what LSDroid's definition of "LIFETIME' means. I have already contacted a class action attorney, so I am not going to be letting this go. I would highly suggest that LSDroid do the right thing now, before they are served with legal papers. Being in Italy is not protection.

  5. Roopa Lavanya
    August 27, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    I am using Hangover Studios mobile anti theft it is really doing good. My phone is secured now, I can track with simple SMS. Find out the details below.

    http://aapthitech.com/mobile-anti-theft-hyderabad
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Hangover+Studios

  6. Jonathan Green
    August 26, 2015 at 6:34 am

    Watch out for Cerberus!

    The folks behind Cerberus have begun expiring the so-called lifetime licenses. Think it was a one time payment for life? Think again. They waren't honoring their agreement with users.

    The first round of users have received emails stating that the app makers are canceling the lifetime licenses and will be blocking all functionality within a week. Users are to purchase a new license or lose services.

    The next time you need to find your phone, your Cerberus lifetime license will have been canceled, and nothing will work.

    Because I can no longer rely on Cerberus to be functional, I'll be switching to one that will honor it's agreement with the users.

  7. Wendi Duran
    August 23, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Nice article. Now stealing iPhone is occurred in almost everywhere. Users should be more careful. I would like to suggest you iLostFinder. Thanks anyway.

  8. Beatriz Amorim
    May 13, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    which one did you choose to your own devices Justin Dennis? I am in doubt between Lookout X PREY X CERBERUS (in free version).... which one do you think is more complete? I would not mind to pay Cerberus since is one time only.... Have problem install more than one in the same device? Thanks!

  9. Abdul Razak NACOULMA
    December 26, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    I wouldn't blame it on the review team because this review is already more than one year old.
    My point is about the review about cerberus :
    Many of its features are not mentionned :
    1.Cerberus can be installed as a system app, and can survive a factory reset according to their website.But the host device needs to be rooted for that and you need to download a special apk of cerberus from their website in order to achieve that.
    2.If a thief stole your phone, he most likely will change the SIM Card.Cerberus, allows the new inserted SIM card to send a msg to your number, letting you know which number is niw using your phone.You can set 3 numbers to which the msg will go and set cerberus to recognize a certain amount of SIM Cards...And they are many more options you can find in cerberus which can help you in can of emergency!
    This article definitely has to be updated !
    Thank you for sharing !

    • Felipe
      April 2, 2015 at 6:20 am

      Perfect. That's why Cerberus is the best nowadays.

  10. Noah
    October 8, 2013 at 3:44 am

    There is a new anti-theft app called Shieldwall and looks similar to Cerberus but it is free!
    I don't know how long it will last, but we can have a try
    http://www.usregistrylive.com

  11. Paul
    August 27, 2013 at 5:24 am

    Cerberus is pound for pound the most useless app I have come across, good on paper but absolutely useless for relocating your phone, check the reviews, rarely will anyone get their phone back.

    Problem communicating with your device. Expect this ALOT. Forget your stolen phone, if you lose your phone in your house, while it's connected to the internet and has 100% battery, you might get lucky.

  12. Quicksilver
    August 23, 2013 at 5:09 am

    Why is linquet not on this list?

  13. Sanjay A
    August 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    The recently launched Android Device Manager by Google is also a great anti-theft solution. No extra software to install and very low RAM requirement.

  14. Bassey
    August 7, 2013 at 11:27 am

    I lost my phone (a 2 week old Samsung Galaxy S) whilst out hill running last year. I didn't notice it was gone until I got back to my car. I had Android Lost installed so I quickly drove home, looked up where it was, drove back and jogged/wheezed straight to where my phone was lying face down in the mud. Thankfully, after a quick wipe, it was fine (although I was shattered after having to climb the hill twice in one night). It was pitch dark so it would have taken a miracle for me to find it just by retracing my steps. I made a donation to the developer through his website when I got home.

  15. Andrew R
    August 7, 2013 at 5:42 am

    I have Cerberus (by chance got it free) and have it set up on a phone and a tablet. Fortunately never had to use it to recover a lost or stolen phone. It seems to do the job though. I occasionally get an email photo of myself unlocking the phone :-)

  16. Rajaa C
    August 7, 2013 at 1:17 am

    My Android is secured by avast antivirus along-with the anti-theft from them too which gets integrated to the antivirus interface. Being FREE, I found the features and controls very exhaustive and very happy to use it. The My Avast interface from my PC browser, let's me control practically anything of the lost phone, if required.

  17. Mike C
    August 7, 2013 at 1:04 am

    I'm surprised Where's My Droid didn't make it onto this list. It's a fantastic app for this purpose.

    • Justin Dennis
      August 7, 2013 at 1:44 am

      Where's My Droid is another good anti-theft app. There are so many out there that I had to make some cuts or else it'd be a list of 10 or 20 apps. :) Thanks for the suggestion!

  18. i steal phones for a living
    August 6, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    1) Why is avast antitheft left out? It lets you do most things for free that the competition only does for money.

    2) A smart thief will keep your phone incommunicado until he has wiped out your anti-theft app. A factory reset will do the job, unless you root your phone to move your anti-theft app to a reset-proof piece of memory. You'd expect a site like MUO to include this option in their reviews.

    3) Police leaving their donuts alone to go after phone thieves is the exception, not the rule, and the risks of going after a thief yourself are not worth the price of a phone. What are your chances of getting a stolen phone back with these apps? Are there any hard numbers on success rates, or is a remote wipe the best you can expect in most theft scenarios?

    • Justin Dennis
      August 7, 2013 at 1:43 am

      1) I missed Avast! Anti-Theft, but I looked it up thanks to your suggestion and it does seem like a nice, full-featured app for free. It's possible we may cover it in the future. I apologize for not covering it in this article.

      2) Even if you root your phone, the thief could still easily boot into recovery and wipe everything. They could flash another ROM entirely or flash it back to stock. Even a basic Factory Reset in the Settings, while it might not delete the app if you make it a system app, would clear the data so that your account is signed out anyway, making the app useless even if it's still there. There's no completely foolproof way to stop a thief. But come to think of it, maybe TWRP or CWM should add a feature so that a PIN is required to access the recovery? I suppose even then, a thief could still put the phone in download mode and flash back to stock.

      3) I've seen phones recovered using these kinds of apps because Campus Security was able to track it back to someone's dorm room, and that gave them enough evidence to search the room, finding the stolen phone. It's also useful if you simply lose your phone. I have no idea about the statistics on getting back a stolen phone, but it depends on who steals your phone. A professional phone thief could wipe your stuff and you'd never see a trace of it again. An amateur (like a stupid kid stealing from dorms or locker rooms) could probably be tracked down, or at least scared into ditching the phone if it started blaring an alarm with a message like "We are tracking you right now and the police are coming." I would use the Remote Wipe as an absolute last resort if the police won't help and you know it's been stolen and not just lost. In that case, insurance plans from wireless carriers, ranging from $5-$10 a month, are usually worth it in my opinion.

    • Mixik
      May 16, 2015 at 8:51 pm

      if you steal phones for living than you should definitely go to the gasoline station, shower in gasoline and lid your sadistic self up on fire. That is a feasible punishment for an asshole that does this.
      A cell phone or rather a smart phone in this day and age is the absolute most intimate and personal thing that we use. A cell phone is more personal then a freaking wallet.

      One day Karma will come back for ya ! ! !

  19. likefunbutnot
    August 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    For what it's worth, Samsung devices have "Find My Mobile" built in to the Samsung-specific account configuration that happens during the out of box or factory reset setup. It works with both phones and tablets.

    Also, if your Android device has a free or paid Google Apps (Corporate Google, not a regular consumer one) account configured on it and the Google Device Policy App installed and approved, the Google Apps admin can remote wipe the device or the singular account off the phone.

    In any event, I'm surprised that Google doesn't have this stuff built in to the generic end-user experience yet for all devices. I'm sure it's coming, but I've done the "Find Phone" and "Remote Wipe" dance a few times for people now and it's a little nerve-wracking.

    • Justin Dennis
      August 6, 2013 at 6:44 pm

      I remember using something Samsung-branded before, I think it may have been called Samsung Dive? At least, when I tried to use it on my Galaxy S3 a year or so ago, it wouldn't work for me. I'm not sure about their offerings nowadays, but hopefully they have improved it.

      Either way, thanks for the info! Very helpful. I recently saw an article -- after writing this one -- about a Google-branded anti-theft/lost phone app, so I went and dug it up: http://pocketnow.com/2013/08/02/android-device-manager

      Apparently it's called Android Device Manager and should be coming out "later this month." Hopefully it can be a strong contender against these other apps. It would be especially useful if it came preloaded on Android phones in the future so that people wouldn't even have to think about.

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