Losing a phone is one of the most devastating feelings, especially considering how much of our lives we store on it digitally, including our contacts, our wallet, and even our car keys. If your phone was password protected, you can temporarily breathe a sigh of relief.
There are obvious services that help you locate your lost Android phone by pinging its GPS location. But what if your cell phone is turned off? Can you still follow it?
Can you track a dead phone?
Short answer—yes; long answer, it depends on how long it’s been off. Your phone stops communicating with cell towers the moment it turns off, which is also true for any GPS activity. You need to act fast to increase your chances of being able to find your phone.
If your phone has been stolen, filing a police report can increase your chances of finding it through your phone’s IMEI number.
Use Find My Device to locate your Android phone
Every Android device linked to a Google account can be tracked through the Google Find My Device service. It works similarly to Apple’s Find My app and not only lets you ping your misplaced Android phone, but also locks or erases its contents.
- Visit Google’s Find My Device website on a computer or another phone.
- Sign in to the same Google Account as your stolen or lost phone.
- You can view compatible devices on the left, including your lost Android phone with its last known location on the right.
Assuming your phone has been turned off, you will only be able to see the location where it last pinged Google. This may be enough if your phone was lost rather than stolen. In case someone finds and turns on your phone, you can easily ping, lock, or factory erase it using Find My Device.
Track your steps using the Google Maps timeline
Another great way to find your lost cell phone is to see where you’ve been with the Google Maps timeline. With so much reliance on our phones for getting around and finding directions, chances are Google Maps will have a detailed history of your phone’s location, as long as Location History is enabled on the device.
Google Maps Timeline shows every route you’ve taken and every store you’ve visited. While not its intended use case, it’s a great way to locate your lost or misplaced Android device.
- On a computer or phone, open Google Maps and sign in to your Google account.
- Click the menu icon and select Your calendar among the options. This will bring up a timeline view of your recent releases.
- To narrow your search, select the date you lost your phone using the drop-down menus.
- By retracing your steps, you may be able to locate where you lost your phone.
Track your phone using third-party apps
If you don’t use Google Maps on your phone often and background data is turned off, you probably won’t be able to locate your phone using Google’s services.
Luckily, there are still a few apps and services that constantly ping your last known location. Snapchat is a great example. Since you can see someone’s location on Snapchat, if you have the option enabled, you can ask your friends to check your recent whereabouts.
If you take a lot of images and use Google Photos to back them up, you can access your most recent images from another device and check the image details for where it was taken. Again, you will need to have the location option enabled in the camera app.
Try to think of other apps on your phone that might have your last known location stored. In times as dire as this, every last piece of information is helpful.
Find your lost Android phone
Finding a lost or stolen phone can be nerve-wracking, but with these helpful location services, you have a good chance of locating it. Asking the police for help is always an option that will greatly increase your chances of finding your lost cell phone.
Obviously, the loss of a valuable piece of technology is only one side of the coin. Without your phone, your personal data, banking information, contacts and work documents are at stake. The sooner you find it, the better.