Track Phone

How To Track Your Lost Android Phone Without Installed Tracking App

But don’t burst out in tears just yet. There’s still hope for your phone to find its way back to you! There are a few ways to remote control and track your phone even if you haven’t installed a recovery app before it vanished.

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Track your lost Android device with Google’s Android Device Manager

Requirements:

  • Your device is connected with your Google account.
  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • Allowed Android Device Manager (ADM) to locate your device (turned on by default). This can changed in the Google Settings app.
  • Allowed ADM to lock your device and erase its data (turned off by default).

Android Device Manager is a Google’s official and easy-to-use tool to track your Android phone or tablet. The best thing about it is that you don’t need to install an app to be able to track your devices. The only requirement is that your device is connected to your Google account, turned on and connected to the internet.

Besides tracking, letting your phone ring and wiping your phone (which has to be enabled manually), Android Device Manager doesn’t offer more options to remote control your phone. Hopefully, Google will work on that and offer more features, such as  taking pictures in case it got stolen and you want to know who took it.

In case there’s no laptop around when you lose your device, you can also use someone else’s Android phone to track it. Instead of using the mobile browser, you can also use the Android Device Manager app. If you the other phone doesn’t have it, simply download it here. You can sign in using the guest mode and your Google account credentials. Now you should be able to track your lost device, let it ring or wipe its data.

Android Device Manager screenshot

Are you not able to locate your phone this way? This can happen for several reasons. The one you should hope for, is that your device is simply not connected to the internet or turned off. In that case, simply keep trying to track it until it (hopefully) connects to Google’s services again.

In case it got stolen, it’s possible that the thief has disconneced your device from your Google Account. If that happens, neither Android Device Manager nor any other tracking tool will be able to locate the device, since it’s necessary to be logged into your Google Account. This doesn’t apply to previously installed tracking apps but in this scenario there are none on the phone. However, there’s one last resort but more on that later.

 Use Google Maps Location History to track your lost Android phone (even if it’s turned off)

Requirements:

  • Your device is connected with your Google account.
  • Your device has access to the internet.
  • Location Reporting and Location History need to be activated on your device (can be done in the Google Settings app on your device).

Unlike the Android Device Manager, the Location History feature of Google Maps doesn’t focus on tracking down a lost phone. You can use your location data to for many different reasons such as looking up past travel routes or last night’s pub crawl tour. However, it is also a good way to locate your phone.

google maps location

Here’s what you need to do. Go to the Google Maps Location History and make sure the current day is selected in the calendar. Click on “Show timestamps” below the calendar to see all the times your device’s location was registered. Now scroll down and select the latest timestamp to see the last available location.

google-maps-location-history

Other than Android Device Manager, which also uses GPS for tracking, Location History only uses cell tower IDs and Wi-Fi location detection to collect location data. This means that the accuracy can vary significantly.

So how can this tool help you if you’re phone’s battery is empty? Well, before your phone died, Google might have saved its current location. That means that you might be able to find it using the last reported position in your location history.

The advantage of Location History is the ability to track your phone’s location frequently over a period of time. If someone stole it, you could make out often visited places, which could be the thief’s home or workplace. That might help you and the authorities to catch the person.

I recommend trying out the Android Device Manager or Android Lost first, since they’re able to use your device’s GPS and offer other useful features.

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