Android Security

The 7 Best Android Anti-Theft Apps to Protect Your Device

Dan Price Updated 11-12-2018

Nobody wants to think about their phone getting stolen, but the truth is that it could happen to anybody. As such, it’s always a good idea to have some sort of anti-theft app on your device.


Google offers a built-in option called Find My Device that can a missing phone, but there are also some great third-party options available. Let’s take a look.

1. Find My Device

Find My Device is Google’s native anti-theft app, and part of all Android phones. It lets you remotely lock your phone, sign out of your device, and wipe its content. You can also see your phone’s location on a map and call it via the accompanying app.

If you lock your phone remotely, you can write a lock screen message that your device will display permanently until you disable it.

The Find My Device feature is enabled by default, but it’s wise to check that you haven’t accidentally turned it off. To check the status of Find My Device, go to Settings > Google > Security and tap on Find My Device. Slide the toggle at the top of the window into the On position if the feature is not active.

There are two ways to access Find My Device features—via the Find My Device web app or smartphone app.


Download: Find My Device (Free)

2. Cerberus

Cerberus is well-established as the leading third-party anti-theft app for Android. It has a rich feature set that its competitors struggle to live up to.

The three main ways that Cerberus protects your device are remote control via the web portal, remote control via text message, and automatic alerts.


The app can locate and track your phone, lock your device, start an alarm on your phone, upload call logs, and wipe both internal and external memory.

Cerberus will also help ensure anyone who steals your phone ends up in trouble with the law. It can secretly take photos and record videos of anyone who has your device, then upload them to the cloud for you to see. You can even record audio from your phone’s mic.

The app also supports automatic actions. For example, you can make the phone lock itself if the SIM card is changed, or instantly receive a photo if someone enters the wrong PIN.

You can enjoy a seven-day free trial. After that, you need to sign up for the $5 per year pro version.


Download: Cerberus (Free trial, subscription required)

3. Anti-Theft Alarm

At the other end of the complexity scale is Anti-Theft Alarm. It’s a theft deterrent; it does not have post-theft features like phone locating and remote wiping.

As the name suggests, the app will sound a loud alarm in certain circumstances. For example, you can make it go off if someone unplugs your phone while it’s charging, if someone moves your phone from where you left it, if you drop your phone, or if someone changes the SIM card. You can also activate the alarm remotely if you realize someone has stolen it.


The alarm can sound even if your device is on silent. Once activated, the noise won’t stop without a password; changing the battery or SIM will not have any effect.

Download: Anti-Theft Alarm (Free)

4. Avast Mobile Security

Avast Mobile Security is one of the best security suites for Android 6 Android Security Apps You Should Install Today Android security apps - capable of blocking malware and phishing attempts - are necessary if you wish to run a safe and secure smartphone. Let's look at some of the best Android security apps currently... Read More . We’ve recommended it in the past.

However, here we’re only interested in the Avast Anti-Theft feature. It used to be a standalone app, but Avast has since bundled it into a holistic security package. The app has the usual array of alarms, maps, and remote controls, but there are a couple of features that warrant a special mention.

First is remote listening. You can make your stolen device call you on another number and listen to its surroundings. Your phone’s screen will remain black so the thief has no idea that there’s an active call.

Second, you can receive a low battery notification. This notification serves two purposes: It will give you a clue about whether someone is charging and using your device. And it lets you reduce the number of alarms, sirens, and photos you request so you can conserve energy as long as possible.

While Avast’s Android app is free, you’ll need to subscribe to get access to all the anti-theft features.

Download: Avast Mobile Security (Free, subscription available)

5. AppLock

AppLock is another basic app. It lets you password-protect any app on your phone. It’s not going to help you get your phone back if someone does steal it, but at least the app will leave you safe knowing that your data is secure if the worst happens.

AppLock can also hide videos and pictures and restrict calls. It means a thief won’t be able to see your private life or rack up massive bills on your account. The app is ad-supported.

Download: AppLock (Free, subscription available)

6. Prey

Prey is a cross-platform solution that can track phones, laptops, tablets, and all sorts of other devices.

There is a free and a premium version. The free version lets you set geo-fencing areas (and receive an alert when the perimeter is breached), see your phone’s GPS location, take photographs of thieves, and activate remote locking. This limits you to three devices per account.

The premium version—which costs $10—offers unlimited devices and adds remote data wiping and remote file retrieval.

We looked at Prey in more detail when we discussed easy ways to recover a stolen Android device.

Download: Prey (Free, premium version available)

7. Where’s My Droid

Where’s My Droid offers a free version along with two paid plans. In the free version, you can locate the device, ring it, set a passcode, and send an alert when someone changes the SIM.

The Pro plan adds more features such as taking photos, locking and wiping the device, and hiding the app icon. It costs a one-time payment of $4.

Lastly, the Elite version ($1 a month or $9 a year) includes geofencing, location history, device stats, and more.

Download: Where’s My Droid (Free, subscription version available)

Bonus: Carrier and Manufacturer Apps

Most network carriers offer an anti-theft app. In the US, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint all have their own version.

The notable downside to carrier apps is cost—you’ll typically see a small extra charge on your bill every month. On the upside, you’ll be able to call your carrier and force them to help you in case a criminal does steal your device.

Several manufacturers also offer an equivalent anti-theft app. They are often built into OEM skins; both Samsung and HTC devices have the feature. Unlike the carrier versions, the manufacturer versions are free to use.

Other Ways to Protect Your Android Device

Anti-theft apps are just one part of keeping your Android device secure.

To learn more about how to stay protected, check out Android apps that protect your privacy how to reset a forgotten Android passcode, and how to ensure your Android phone is up to date How to Ensure Your Android Phone Is Up-to-Date and Secure If you're not running the newest version of Android available for your device, you could be dealing with a security risk. Read More .

Related topics: Android Apps, Identity Theft, Location Data, Smartphone Security.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. David
    June 15, 2020 at 7:09 pm

    Cerberus is a scam. I signed up and paid for for a lifetime licence then they cancelled their lifetime licence and replaced it with a subscription licence. Don't believe Cerberus's licence terms and conditions as they'll change it to suite them anyway. Android plays playstore removed cerberus from the playstore as they can't be trusted. Read other negative comments on the net from thousands of others that got duped by Cerberus.

  2. akshay
    January 30, 2019 at 6:56 am

    can i get the source code for study and analysis purpose

    January 26, 2019 at 12:42 pm


  4. Ramakrishna
    December 12, 2018 at 5:48 am

    while we are uisng find my device.
    it will shown the notification in the thefted mobile so that thief will be noticed that.

    is there any option how to stop that notification.

  5. Morad
    September 29, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for the article but Anti-Theft Security app by MOSI apps is the best ;-)

    • Sifax
      September 29, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      I just looked at it, thanks a lot for sharing. This one with Cerberus are my 2 favorites. Too bad Anti-Theft Security can't send command over the Internet... But it has more than 20 very interesting features (popup, selfie, video, siren etc..) and the app is more user-friendly. The price is really cheap I'm suprised: 0.99$ for a lifetime licence :) :) :).

  6. David Lemler
    June 26, 2017 at 3:08 am

    Although there are so many ways an experienced thief could get into a really tightly locked down device, if the real owner was really technically savvy, they could make the device impossible to use again. This is because even if the thief was as tech savvy as the owner, the owner had access to the device before the thief, so they have more control. At the absolute most, you could potentially set-up a software fuse or (permanent) kill switch so that if the thief tried to access the bootload and reflash a custom recovery, the device could completely destroy itself, possibly by formatting the entire storage system and completely removing the bootloader and everything else. This obviously wouldn't be an ideal condition, but at least there would be no way that the thief could use the device.

    • Henry
      August 7, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      Now this is a nice concept that I have been hoping OEMs will implement on their devices. Do you know any software that can do something like this?

      • David Lemler
        August 7, 2017 at 5:48 pm

        I don't know of a specific software that could do this. It would definitely have to be something that you would do through a computer connection, because it would be a very low level system change. I know that a lot of phones have a setting that is designed to require the entry or the previous phone's account information (Google account, ICloud account, etc.) to be entered, in order to use the phone again after a factory reset. However, because of Android's openness, an experienced thief could bypass it very easily (if the phone was previously used like a normal user would). Onr thing that I think might work would be to have a password on your bootloader. I don't know how you would do this, or if any bootloaders come with this option, but having a password here, as well as on your recovery could potentially make it impossible for even the most tech savvy person to use the device without the correct password.

  7. 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.

  8. Anonymous
    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.

  9. Anonymous
    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.

    • Anonymous
      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

  10. Anonymous
    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.

  11. Anonymous
    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.

  12. Anonymous
    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.

  13. Anonymous
    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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

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

    Why is linquet not on this list?

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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 :-)

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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 ! ! !

      • Yeah Right
        April 17, 2017 at 10:57 pm

        Wow, so I guess stealing an UNNECESSARY (yes, you read that right) piece of plastic deserves the death penalty... Civilized much?
        If you have an "intimate" attachment to that brainwashing device, good for you, but you certainly need a lesson or two in ethics, capitalism and mind-control.

        • Mixik
          April 27, 2017 at 5:45 pm

          Here is your lesson:
          F**K OFF !!!

  24. 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.