How could FindMyIPhone track my phone even though the SIM card was exchanged?

Lisa Fitzgerald September 30, 2012


We got our stolen iPhone 4 back, even though they had a new SIM card and different carrier. I got an email yesterday telling me that the phone had been located. I tracked it down using the FindMyIPhone App and we recovered the phone.

I’m thrilled we got it back, but confused as to how the app tracked it, since the phone had a new SIM card and carrier.

  1. Praveen Ben
    April 4, 2013 at 6:46 am

    If you loss your phone, and If your phone was stolen, it can be traced through IMEI number, Even if the handset was Sim changed.

    you can find your phone location via IMEI number here..

    From Ben,
    Author of
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  2. Nagi
    January 11, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Find my iphone tracks the apple id not the sim card, if it doesn't work its not because the sim was exchanged but because the iphone was not connected to the internet. As long as the iphone is connected to the internet it will be able to use location services, so the app will look for any iphone logged in your apple id with location services enabled.

  3. Abbas
    January 9, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Is there a service anywhere that can find my stolen iPhone 5 using the just the IMEI number and or serial number? My carrier, ATT is useless, they say since i didn't buy insurance, they can't help me locate my phone even though they have the means to do so.

  4. ryan
    November 17, 2012 at 12:38 am

    i just got my iphone stolen and wanted to know who sent you the email telling you that they had located your phone?
    Thanks have a nice day!

    • Abrar
      January 2, 2013 at 11:07 am

      I have lost my iphone please help me how i find my iphone?

      Am very thanksfull if you help me.

      I hope u understand.
      T.c bye.

    • Abrar
      January 2, 2013 at 11:08 am

      rare you tell me or not?

  5. Anonymous
    October 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    because it uses your apple id for the serial no. of the phone

  6. Katie Conway
    October 8, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    The SIM card isn't the soul source for GPS. If the phone was near WiFi or was connected to the IMEI or ICCID connectivity then it could still be tracked.

  7. April Eum
    October 8, 2012 at 3:02 am

    this is insane lmao, probably because if you had your icloud still intact on the phone (no one signed off of it or the phone has been restored) therefore you were able to still track your phone. it has nothing to do with sim card, sim card will allow calls, data, sms. other wise it acts like an ipod.

  8. Alex Perkins
    October 1, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    GPS probably, just a guess. Or maybe locating any AP's it got connected to?

  9. Phuong Doan
    October 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    if i'm not wrong it tracks the device by the apple ID and only if location service is enabled

  10. Ahmed Khalil
    October 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    he is not clever enought to restor the factory setting of the telephone before connect to the internet, that is all as the devise still connected to your apple ID

  11. Peter Gruender
    September 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Obviously it would not be correct to explain in full how this works, as that may well help someone to stael a phone, and w don't want that!

    Every mobile has an IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number.

    The IMEI number is a unique 15-17 digit serial number for mobile phones and by typing *#06# into the keypad the IMEI number will display on the screen.

    This is the start point of the encrypted information that is held within the actual operating system of the mobile.

    It does not matter what carrier or what card is used, this information stays the same and it is this that is broadcast whenever the phone is on.

    I hope this helps.

    • Abbas
      January 9, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      is there any service that can find it by an IMEI number? my SP refuses to since i don't have insurance through them

  12. muotechguy
    September 30, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Like Mike said, it's connected your Apple ID - your email address or whatever - not the SIM card itself. If the phone had been wiped, it wouldnt have worked - even with the same SIM in it. As it is, they simply changed the SIM, and didnt delete your data or your logins - so the moment they turned it on, it located itself under your account still.

    That's awesome that you got it back; hope you didn't take any risks by confronting the thief or such.

  13. Mike
    September 30, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Find my iPhone works via Apple ID not the SIM, IMEI or carrier.

    As long as the phone has internet access (either 3G or WiFi) and wasn't reset the phone is still associated with your Apple ID and therefor responds to "Find my iPhone".

    Basically you were fortunate enough that whoever got your phone "forgot" to do a restore.

  14. HLJonnalagadda
    September 30, 2012 at 7:19 am

    In iDevices, as well as most other smart mobiles these days, it is done by using the udid, which is a unique ID that is allocated to every mobile. As this is something that is baked right into the file system and is not based on the carrier, changing carriers would not make any difference to the unique ID and the device can be located with it.

    Congratulations on getting the device back!

  15. Anay Chaubal
    September 30, 2012 at 5:47 am

    I do not use an iPhone or any iProduct, however, I know for a fact that any cellular device uses more than a sim card to keep it connected to the network for which it is made.

    There is IMEI or the International Mobile Equipment Identity, then there is the Apple device ID, apple ID, etc. all of these can be used to track any lost iDevice, in addition to the sim card. in case the sim card is removed / changed, the other ids still remain on the hardware, and can be used by products like findmyiphone to well, find your iPhone.

    • muotechguy
      September 30, 2012 at 8:39 am

      Nope. You cannot track an iPhone using IMEI or UDID; the device must remain tied to the user account.

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