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Losing your phone or having it stolen really sucks. If you have an iPhone, the free Find my iPhone How To Use Find My iPhone To Get Your Stolen iPhone Back How To Use Find My iPhone To Get Your Stolen iPhone Back Long story short: my wife had her iPhone stolen when she misplaced it at work the other day. I was able to log into her iCloud account and eventually get the device back. Read More app can help you out, but what is an Android owner to use? Well, you have a bunch of options in the Google Play Store, and we’ll be looking at four of the best.

Anti-theft apps like Lookout, Cerberus, Prey, and Android Lost offer a wide range of options for finding or protecting your device: GPS location, sounding an alarm, locking the phone, wiping the data completely, and more. If you just happened to lose your phone in the infinite folds of your couch, sounding an alarm will help you find it, even if it was on silent. If it’s been stolen, your GPS can be turned on to locate it, allowing you to find the thief. Every Android user should have at least one of these apps installed.

Which should you download? Well, it depends on what you’re looking for. Let’s break it up into a few different sections.

User Interface

Quite simply, the nicest looking app of the bunch is Lookout. The Android app is simple and easy to use, as is the Website, and they both look gorgeous. Given how popular Lookout is, this shouldn’t be surprising. The Android app is just a list of recent activity above a list of features that you can click to turn on or off. The Website keeps the features pinned to the left side and gives you the rest of the page for a pretty, modern display.


The next best in terms of UI is Cerberus because it is so incredibly simple. The app is just a list of settings in typical Holo styling. The website shows a map with the device location next to a list of the commands and actions you have sent to the phone. On the top is a red/green light to let you know if it is locating your phone or tracking it. Conveniently, it also tells you the battery percentage so you can know if your phone is about to die. Also up top is a drop-down list of commands you can send to the phone including locking it, setting off an alarm, displaying a message, wiping the phone, etc.

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The Prey Android app is another list of settings, although it doesn’t look quite as nice as Cerberus. The Website shows a list of your devices, since this app is clearly aimed at using multiple devices, and you can click on one to see more options. Instead of sending individual commands like with Lookout or Cerberus, Prey works by flipping a switch that reports it as lost, and it will generate a report with all the information you want every few minutes. This is an interesting take on the interface, but I’m not sure how much I like it.


Android Lost has the worst UI of any of these. The app is flat-out unattractive. The home screen of the app has only one button once you get it setup: Exit. There is no visible options button, as per modern styling, but you can view more options by pressing a capacitive options button if you have one. The Website doesn’t get much better. Under the Controls button, you can find a bunch of useful features, but they’re all sorted by ugly gray boxes. I wouldn’t get this app if you want something pretty, but don’t count it out completely. It is a feature-packed app.



Lookout has some pretty useful features that the other apps don’t have because it is more of an all-around security app than just an anti-theft app. It can scan your system either daily or weekly for malware, and it can scan all the files you download, apps and others, for malware. This can be a very useful feature to ensure that you’re not downloading anything malicious by accident, especially if you have a habit of downloading cracked apps Cracked Android Apps and Games: Read This Before Downloading Cracked Android Apps and Games: Read This Before Downloading The statistics don't lie: Most Android malware comes from outside Google Play. Downloading cracked apps -- or any type of app -- from a shady website or untrustworthy third-party app store is the way most... Read More , which are a major source of malware on Android devices. Signal Flare will save your device’s location to Lookout’s servers right before it runs out of battery. Lock Cam will take a picture of anyone who enters a wrong password on your device three times in a row.


If you pay for premium service, you also get Privacy Advisor, which will monitor your apps for suspicious permissions that could invade your privacy; Safe Browsing, which will scan all your links before you open them in either the stock Android browser or Google Chrome; and Data Backup, which can backup your contacts, photos, and call log. There may be a lot of anti-virus Android apps The 3 Best Antivirus Apps To Protect Your Android Security The 3 Best Antivirus Apps To Protect Your Android Security As we’ve reported frequently at MakeUseOf, Android is no longer safe from malware. The number of threats is on the rise. This shouldn’t be surprise to anyone. Smartphones and tablets can carry all sorts of... Read More out there, but Lookout is easily one of the most comprehensive.

If your device is ever lost or stolen, you can visit and sound a loud alarm on your phone, locate it via GPS, lock it and display a custom message, or wipe all the data if you know it’s gone for good. The last two options are only available for premium users, and we’ll get into pricing later.


The only downside to Lookout might be that it’s not very subtle; in fact, it starts up with a sticky notification that has to be disabled in the settings. There isn’t any option to hide it from the app drawer or ask for a password on startup.

Cerberus is very much the opposite. You have to type your full username and password every time you open the app, and not only does it have an option to be hidden from the app drawer, but it also can be accessed via a dialer code so you can still get to it easily. Cerberus, like Lookout, can take a picture of someone trying to unlock your phone, but it allows for you to set how many attempts need to be failed before it snaps the pic. It can also take a picture anytime someone dismisses a Cerberus message, which would pop up if you sent a message or alarm to the phone.


The website,, is the first place you’ll go as soon as the phone is lost, and it has a long list of features. You can send a custom message to the phone, lock it, take a picture, record audio or video, track its location on a map, or even have the phone call a chosen number with the speakerphone on. If your phone is stolen, that could make for an awkward phone conversation with the thief.

Prey’s biggest feature is that it can be installed on nearly any device: PC, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. It’s meant for managing multiple devices, so you can add your computer, your tablet, your phone, and the devices of your family too. Aside from that, it doesn’t stand out much. When you report your device missing from, it sends out all the commands at once, rather than allowing you to send them one by one like the other apps. I disliked this method, but that could vary for each user.


However, Prey has one massive advantage over the competition. All of these apps request to be Device Administrators, meaning they can’t be uninstalled regularly. However, if you remove them from being administrators (which is as easy as pressing the button under Settings > Security), they can then be uninstalled. Prey takes a brilliant approach to this problem, however, and will lock the screen with a PIN that you set beforehand if the thief tries to remove it from being an administrator. All three of the others can be removed from being a Device Administrator without any hassle.


Android Lost, despite its poor user interface, has many useful features. In your app drawer, it is called “Personal Notes” and the image is a small notepad. No thief would ever recognize it as a security app. On, the feature I found most interesting was that you can have your phone speak words out loud using your phone’s Text-to-Speech service. That would sure freak out a thief if the phone started talking to them, asking them to return the phone.


At least for rooted users, one of the advantages that Android Lost touts is the ability to make itself a system app, meaning that even if the thief factory resets the device, the app will remain installed. This sounds great, but if a factory reset does happen, the data will be removed from Android Lost anyway and you won’t be able to access the device anyway. It claims to be able to register the app via text message by sending an SMS to the device with the words “androidlost register” but in my testing, this didn’t work.

Also, if you do decide to make it a system app for whatever reason, be aware that it could soft brick your phone. My Galaxy S3 got stuck in a bootloop after trying to remove it from being a system app, although it was fine after booting into recovery and doing a simple factory reset.

All of these apps, when tested, were able to turn on my phone’s GPS and locate me very quickly and accurately. As far as general services like that go — including sounding an alarm and locking the phone — all of these apps worked flawlessly on my device.


All of these apps offer a free version, but you have to pay to get the full experience. Here’s what you’ll pay for premium service:

Prey: $5/month or $54/year (for more devices: $15/month or $162/year)

Lookout: $2.99/month or $29.99/year

Android Lost: $5 one-time fee

Cerberus: $3.93 one-time fee

If you take into account the cost factor, Android Lost is one of your best options. The free version includes nearly all of the features, short of a few extravagances like an app launcher, contact searcher, and the ability to reboot/shutdown the phone.

However, the one time fee of $3.93 for Cerberus is also a very tempting deal, especially considering you’ll pay much more than that after a few months of Lookout or Prey. The free trial for Cerberus lasts only one week, unlike the other services which allow you to stay free forever if you want. However, Lookout is much more of a suite of security options on top of an anti-theft app, and Prey is clearly aimed at people with many devices. It all depends on your needs.


The all-around winner, if you’re willing to spend a few bucks, is Cerberus because of its low price and simplistic UI.

The best free app out of the bunch is easily Android Lost. It’s a lightweight, full-featured, if not-so-elegant anti-theft app. You get basically everything you need without paying the $5 one-time fee (although you can donate on the Website).

Lookout and Prey may require some deeper pockets to get all the features, but if you need a strong antivirus app or have a multitude of devices, they could be worth it. It might even be a good idea to keep multiple anti-theft apps installed just in case.

Bad things are going to happen in life, and one of those bad things is probably losing your phone or having it stolen. Don’t wait until it’s too late; download one of these anti-theft apps now. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to take these other steps to protect yourself from smartphone thievery Don’t Be A Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft Don’t Be A Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft Considering the cost of a new smartphone, most of us are extremely casual about how we treat them. But keeping tabs on your smartphone isn’t difficult. Keeping it safe from the possibility of theft is... Read More in the first place.

Which is your favorite anti-theft app? Did we miss any that you think are important? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credits: Thief vector Via Shutterstock

  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 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 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.

  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

  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:

      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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