You have many ways to trace a mobile phone’s location. This is especially true these days, because so many people voluntarily share their location with friends and family.
Both Android and iPhone devices come with built-in location tracking utilities. This is active as long as location services (GPS) on the phone stays enabled, and the owner has provided an app with permission to access their location.
The following are a few ways you can take advantage of those location-tracking services.
Find an Android Phone via Device Manager
Tracing the location of your Android phone couldn’t be any easier. So long as you have location services enabled on your Android device, you can visit Android Device Manager’s Find My Device page to get the location of your phone.
Once you do, you’ll see the precise GPS location of your phone identified by a small green icon on Google Maps.
To the left of the map, you’ll see three services that you can use if your phone is not currently in your possession:
- Play a sound: This will ring your phone for five minutes even if the sound is set to silent. If the phone is anywhere in your vicinity, you should hear it.
- Lock: If you know your phone is lost, you can make sure it’s locked so no one can open it and see your information.
- Erase: If you’ve lost all hope of finding your phone and want to ensure someone doesn’t discover its sensitive information, you can remotely (permanently) erase everything.
It’s a good idea to make sure you’ve enabled location services on your phone and provided Google with permission to trace your phone location. To do so, head to Settings > Security & Location > Location. Then visit Find My Device in the same menu to enable tracking.
Then if you ever lose your device, you can quickly utilize one of these features to protect your information.
Find an Android Phone via Google’s Find Your Phone
In addition to the Find My Device feature, there’s also a Find Your Phone page with even more features available.
This page will show you a list of every device you’ve logged into your Google account with. Select the phone or tablet you want to locate.
Once you do, you’ll see a long list of utilities you can use, similar to the Android Device Manager:
- Check recent security events: This will show you a log of any recent password change or reset requests submitted to Google.
- Lock your phone: You can immediately lock your phone so no one can access it.
- Try calling your phone: Gives you access to your contacts list (to find your number if you forgot it) or a Google Hangouts session so you can call your phone.
- Sign out of Google on your phone: This will log you out of your Google account on the device, so nobody can access your Google account information from it.
- Reach out to your carrier: Contact your carrier to disable your old SIM card and order a new one.
- Erase your phone: This will immediately erase everything from your phone.
Pressing the Locate link on the right side of this page is the easiest and fastest way to trace a mobile phone location. It’ll open the Find My Device page so you’ll know exactly where to go pick up your phone.
The option to lock your phone will provide the person who found your phone with a call button they can press (and a customized message you can write to them).
This way, they can use your phone to call you at whatever number you specify. This makes it as easy as possible for whoever has your phone to help you get it back. They don’t even have to dial a number—all they have to do is press the green button!
Keep in mind that the option to erase your device will wipe out everything on the phone. It’s possible that this may not erase any memory cards you added to your phone.
Also, note that when you erase your phone, your Google account information is deleted from it phone. That means you can’t use any of the services above to locate or ring your phone afterward.
Use the erase feature only as a last resort if you’re convinced that you’ve lost your phone and will never get it back. You may want to do this when the battery status on the phone has reached single digits, as you’re likely to lose contact with the phone anyway.
Find an iPhone via Apple’s Find My iPhone
If you try to visit the iCloud page to find your iPhone’s location, you’ll notice that the web page says your browser isn’t supported.
This is Apple’s way of sticking it to Android users. But that’s okay, because you have a way around that.
In Chrome, all you have to do is tap the three-dot menu icon at the upper-right corner of the browser window and select Request desktop site in the dropdown list.
Once you enable this, the sign-in page for iCloud will come up just fine. Sign into your iCloud account, and voila—a map will appear with the precise location of your iPhone.
Just like tracking an Android phone, you must have location services enabled on your iPhone for this to work. And don’t forget that you can log into iCloud from a computer or another device to track your iPhone in the same way.
Now you know how to trace the location of your iPhone, even if everyone else in your home has an Android device. On the other side of this, we’ve also shown what to do if you find a lost iPhone.
Trace a Mobile Phone’s Location via Other Apps
Maybe you’re more interested in tracing the phone location of your family or your friends.
You should know that there is no app that will show you the location of a phone based on a phone number. Any app on the Google Play Store that claims to do this is a scam.
The only way you can ever trace the location of a mobile phone is by installing software onto that phone. The phone owner must also give permission to enable location services on the phone.
The good news is that many people willingly share their GPS location. Yes, even many of your own friends.
Find a Mobile Phone via Facebook
If you open the Facebook app on your phone, open the menu and scroll down. You’ll see a Nearby Friends link.
Select this, and you’ll see just how many of your Facebook friends have enabled sharing their location with friends on Facebook (or unwittingly shared it).
This area of the Facebook app will show you friends’ last location when they logged into Facebook. This is the easiest way to identify the location of your friends through their phone. But it only works if they’ve enabled the location feature in Facebook.
Another way Facebook offers location tracking is through the Messenger app. Facebook offers the ability to share your live location with anyone via the Facebook Messenger app.
You can do this inside the Messenger app. Pressing the Plus icon to the left of your message, and choose the location icon.
This will show the message recipient a small map with the location of your phone on it.
Share Your Location on Google Maps
Another cool way you can let your family or friends trace the location of your phone is by sharing your location via Google Maps—one of Maps’ best hidden features.
If you open Google Maps and access the left menu, you’ll see a Location sharing option in the list.
When you tap it, you’ll have the option to share your phone location. You can specify a time period or permanently share your location until you turn off the feature.
Maps lets you pick the people you want to share your location with. Once you and your friends share your location with each another, you’ll see each other’s location on the map, identified with your Google account’s profile image.
This is an awesome way for a parent to provide the family with peace of mind when they’re away for any reason. It’s also a great way for parents to track their child’s location and not constantly worry about where their kids are.
Location Access on Mobile Devices Is Useful
Whether you go with Facebook, Google, or one of the phone finding services described above, locating a phone is far easier than it has ever been. There’s really no reason you should ever be in the dark about where your phone is—or even the phones of loved ones.
For more great apps like these, check out Android apps that make awesome use of your location.