lost smartphone

Losing a phone happens to even the best of people.

As our phones have evolved, we are putting more and more information on our phones.

Which is why when we lose a smartphone today, it’s a soul crushing moment when we discover that we don’t know where it is, because we are now unable to contact people, keep our schedules and access our apps to do tasks for us.

It’s especially troubling in the workplace, where missing phones can lead to costs that are not fun for anyone to incur, and in some cases can slow down workplace productivity.

Thankfully, technology has advanced to the point where we can now find our lost phones and even retrieve them safely.

In the unfortunate event that we are unable to retrieve our phone, we are now able to remotely lock the phone down so information on the phone cannot be abused.

We no longer have to lose hope when our phone is lost, and that is a comfort to many of us.

A Few Notes Before We Begin

As magical as finding a lost phone may be, there are some things that must be done first before you can find your phone.

Your phone needs to have location services turned on, for the obvious reason of being able to broadcast its location.

This can be found in a phone’s settings under the Location/Security tab. Once there, you can decide how you want the location to be tracked (either by WiFi networks and your data plan or through GPS satellites).

You also need your phone to have actual Internet access in order for information to reach you. This means relying on your phone’s data plan or hoping that you left your phone connected to a local WiFi network.

You must also link your phone to an online account (ie. iPhone to an Apple ID) so that you can track the device and the software knows that you are the actual owner of the phone. This will be important for confirming the phone is yours, as well as locking down the phone in the worst case scenario.

You must also be able to access the Internet yourself and have the necessary applications installed to find a phone. This usually means being at your home computer/laptop, but this can also be done at an office or a friend’s house if you absolutely have no other option.

Start With In-Built Phone Finding Apps

For iPhone users, Apple has created a Find My Phone app for the times where your phone is lost and you don’t know where it is.

For Android users, the Android Device Manager can be downloaded from the Google Play store and it helps you upload the device details to Google so you can link your account to your phone and use Google’s software to track it.

Both apps have a “Find my phone” button that you can select, which brings up a map and connects your phone to the Internet.

From there, it will broadcast its location to the app so you can get an approximate idea of where it is.

If you have another phone locating app, such as Lookout or Avast, you will follow the instructions in those apps as they may have additional steps you need to take to locate your phone.

You might see that the location of your phone is moving. This is normal if you left your phone on a train, tram or a cab. If you haven’t, this might mean someone has picked up your phone.

Once you know the approximate location of your phone, it is highly recommended you lock it (or with iPhones, put it in Lost Mode) so that other people who chance upon your phone are unable to use it.

If you left it on a cab, or an Uber/Lyft service, it is possible to contact the company (I hope you’ve been keeping the receipts!) and have the driver send it to you for a fee.

If it’s too late in the day, the phone will be sent to the company office where you can pick it up then.

If you left it on a train or a tram, you will probably have to call the company (ie. Metro) and tell them the situation. They will resolve it to the best of their ability. It will be quite difficult to find a phone on a train or tram, but it’s not impossible.

Should your phone be in a stationary location (such as a park), you will have to go and pick it up yourself.

What If I Can’t Find My Phone?

Unfortunately, for obvious reasons the apps can’t give you an actual location. They can only tell you the approximate location of your phone.

To be fair, the approximate location will almost always be correct, and it’s better to have an approximate location rather than having nothing at all.

If retracing your steps have brought no results, you can try a few things such as using the “Ring” or “Play Sound” function on your respective phone finding app to have your phone play a noise.

You can then follow the noise to your phone.

If you can’t hear a noise, check the location again. As unfortunate as it may sound, the location can change due to a variety of events.

If the phone’s location is moving, that means something or someone has taken your phone, and you might have to chase down whatever has your phone.

Keep in mind that if your phone’s location is moving, whatever has your phone MAY NOT be friendly. You might run into less than desirable situations if you act without thinking.

If you suddenly lose the location, it means that your phone has either run out of battery, lost access to the Internet or someone has managed to turn the phone off.

What If I Can’t Retrieve My Phone?

If you absolutely cannot find your phone or it has fallen into the wrong hands, it’s a sad situation.

However, it’s in your best interest to keep the damage as small as possible.

The “Find my phone” apps have a way to reset your phone or erase all the information on it to prevent any unauthorized user from accessing private information.

It’s not the best scenario, but it’s better than nothing.

You will just have to get another phone and take the loss in stride.

What If I Didn’t Register My Phone To An Online Account?

It’s a hard situation to deal with if you have no way of locating your phone with a phone finding app.

Thankfully, there are many ways around this.

If you have a tracking app installed (such as Cerberus), using those apps is often far more effective as they are built around having your phone missing. They also don’t need registration to a service except their own, so you will be covered there.

Android phones can also have software installed remotely through the Google Play store, allowing you to download apps onto the phone that may give you a better chance of finding the phone.

Some service providers have a way to track a phone through their own GPS system, so it’s worth calling your service provider to see what they can do, as each provider offers different services.

You still have options if you haven’t linked your phone to an online account, but it will take a bit of extra work on your end to locate the phone without one.

Always Be Careful

It’s never fun losing your phone, it’s a relief if you find it and painful if you don’t.

It’s a reality for anyone, so it is very important to prepare for this by registering your phone and setting up any tracking methods possible.

This way, you can avoid having to buy new phones and learn a thing or two about responsible ownership.

Or if you do lose your phone, you know how to make sure it never happens again.

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