Let people remotely track your mobile phone

Find your cell phone: This is how it's done for free for iPhone and Android

Easily track down lost or stolen smartphones

Jörg Geiger

Thanks to numerous on-board tools, you can easily locate your cell phone, regardless of whether it is an Android smartphone or an iPhone. While Apple is relying on iCloud, Google has created its own app for cell phone location. Alternatively, there are plenty of third-party location apps to download for free. CHIP helps you to track down your lost smartphone immediately.

Cell phone location made easy

Has your Apple iPhone or Android smartphone disappeared? Then most users take a pragmatic approach and call the lost devices via landline or a second cell phone? But what do you do when the doorbell doesn't ring anywhere? Then there is usually only one thing left to do: you have to locate your cell phone. But do not worry, this is completely free and with the on-board resources of the provider. Important: But there is one thing you must not forget, so that you can locate your mobile phone in the worst-case scenario, you must activate the location function on the device in advance. CHIP shows how to do it.

Cell phone tracking with and without GPS

If you have activated location on your smartphone, you can locate a lost cell phone from other smartphones or from the PC. It does not matter whether, for example, GPS is activated on the lost smartphone or not. Several functions are used for localization, GPS is one of them, but the cellular radio stations used and WiFi data are also included. Under certain circumstances, you can also locate a cell phone from which the GPS is disconnected. The more technologies Android or iOS can use for location, the more precisely the location can be determined. If the mobile phone is switched off or offline, the location shows the last known location.
The most convenient way to locate a cell phone is from a PC or notebook, but you can also use a second cell phone or tablet to find a lost device. CHIP shows how you can track down the expensive iPhone and what service Google offers to locate Android devices. Samsung also offers help when it comes to locating the in-house cell phones. There are also additional apps for mobile phone location.

Find iPhone for free

The same applies to the iPhone, if you activate the location of the device, then you are well prepared in the event of loss. The location runs via iCloud and requires an Apple ID, the central Apple user account. As an iPhone user, you have this in use anyway, because you cannot download any apps from the store without an Apple ID. In the "Settings" under "Apple ID", go to "iCloud" and set "Find my iPhone" to "On".
Locate iPhone: Once activated, you can locate your iPhone from any browser via iCloud. All you have to do is log in with the Apple ID used on the iPhone, and the service will show the last known location of your iPhone on a map.

To the web app: locate iPhone

Find Android for free

Google has also had a location function built into it for several generations of Android. Unsurprisingly, a Google account is used for this. So you have to be logged in with your Google account on your smartphone, and location detection has to be switched on. The exact way differs depending on the Android version. Try the "Google Settings" or tap on "Settings / Google" and then on "Location" or on "Security & Location". Activate "Location with high accuracy".
You must then explicitly activate the "Find my device" option. You can find it under "Security" or, for various Android versions, under "Google Security" or "Security & Location".
Locate Android phone: Using the Google service Find my device, you can easily log in with the Google account and then display the last registered location of the mobile phone on a map.

Download: Find My Device

Lock or delete your mobile phone if it is lost

Ideally, you will quickly find your lost cell phone and it was just in the office or you forgot it at a friend's house. But what do you do if you can't get your cell phone back so quickly? Even then, the functions shown above offer further options.
Lock cell phone: You can lock the smartphone remotely via iCloud or the Android Device Manager and display a message on the device. For example, leave your landline number so that an honest finder can contact you.
Play signal: But it could also be that your cell phone is under the seat on the train and nobody has discovered it yet. For such cases you can have a rather penetrating signal tone played. If someone is near your cell phone, they would have to be deaf to fail to hear.
Delete cell phone: The last measure is radical and only advisable if you are fairly sure that you can copy the cell phone. You can also remotely erase iPhone and Android smartphone. Once you have done this, it will no longer be possible to locate it again.

Prevent cell phone tracking

The location function for cell phones is practical if you have lost your device. But it also has a disadvantage: Since the location is done using the services of Apple, Google and Microsoft, the location data is shared with the tech companies. Those who are concerned about data protection may want to prevent that.
The first step is then not to activate the location described above via iCloud or Android device manager or Microsoft account. But that alone is not enough, because location data is also collected in this way. Google users disconnect the recording of the locations in the Google account, the so-called location history, under "Data and personalization" in the "Activity settings". But the data octopus doesn't make it that easy, web services and apps can still use location data. Turn off the "Web and App Activities" option in the activity settings.
iPhone users visit "Location Services" in the settings under "Privacy". There, the topic of location can be deactivated centrally or controlled on an app basis.

Detailed step by step instructions

in the test