How to find a lost Android phone or tablet
Prepare now to help you find your Android phone or tablet in the event that it is lost or stolen
If you've lost your phone or tablet it's not always gone forever. But don't wait until you lose it to prepare: you'll need to configure it now to enable you to find a lost Android device. Here's how to set up phone tracking and how to find your phone.
Note that the solutions offered in this tutorial will require your phone to be switched on in order to give you an accurate idea of its location, and to access options to remotely lock or wipe it. If your battery runs out or your phone is stolen and switched off, you may be out of luck. Back up everything now, just in case you can't get it back.
Here we'll consider the options built into Android to explain how to track your lost or stolen device. You will need to be signed into your Google account on the phone or tablet before you begin.
Some third-party options are also available. Prey is a particularly popular option, available not only for mobile devices but also Windows, OS X and Ubuntu laptops. If you have several devices spanning multiple platforms, it's worth considering an option such as this that lets you track them all from a single interface.
How to locate a lost Android
Device Manager offers the easiest way to track an Android phone or tablet. You don't need to have the app installed on your device to use it, but you do need to check that your settings are correctly configured before you lose it.
To start using Device Manager, open the Google Settings app (not the device's own Settings app) and
tap on Security. Under Device Manager ensure the options to 'Remotely locate this device' and 'Allow remote lock and erase' are enabled.
Location access also needs to be switched on for Device Manager to work. Once again open the Google Settings app, but this time choose Location. On the next screen tap 'Google Location History' under Location Services and ensure it's switched on.
You now have two ways of tracking a lost Android. If the device is switched on and has a signal you'll be able to track it in Device Manager - head to android.com/devicemanager on another device and sign into your account. It should find your device and report its location on a map. Also in Device Manager you'll find options to make the phone ring, lock out a suspected thief or wipe its contents.
There is also an Android Device Manager app you can install to your Android phone or tablet, which is
useful if you have several Android devices to track. It's free from Google Play.
Another option, if your Android is switched off, is to check your location history to find its last reported location. You can do this by visiting google.com/settings/accounthistory and tapping on Manage History under Places you go.
You'll now see a map of all the places in which your device has reported its location during a time period that you specify. The last known location is where Google last saw it before the battery died, and if your luck's in it may still be there. Note that location history uses Wi-Fi- and mobile signals rather than GPS, so it won't be as accurate as Android Device Manager.