Lost or Stolen Android Phone? Here’s How to Find It

Losing a phone is incredibly stressful, given how much of our lives — and hard-earned dollars — go into them. Thankfully, Android phones come equipped with tools to make tracking them down and securing your data easier. 

To leverage those tools, you’ll need to take some simple steps ahead of time to make sure you’re equipped to find a misplaced or stolen phone. So, here are settings to enable right away, and what to do if you ever need to locate your phone. 

Prepare your phone now

Take a couple of minutes to make sure you’ve got the right settings on, should you misplace or lose your phone. Future you will thank you.

Create a secure lock screen

Make sure you have password and fingerprint authentication set up. You can enable this in the Security & privacy section of your phone’s settings. 

That’s typically a safer bet than facial recognition, which isn’t always the most secure option on an Android phone. (Samsung even acknowledges on its website that, “Face recognition is less secure than Pattern, PIN, Iris, or Fingerprint.”) It might take a bit more effort to unlock your phone with a password or fingerprint, but it’s worth protecting your personal information. 

Google Find My Device feature Google Find My Device feature

Check to make sure Find My Device is enabled on your Android phone.

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Set up Google’s Find My Device service

Any time you sign into an Android device with a Google account, Find My Device is automatically turned on. This is what you’ll use if your phone goes missing to track, remotely lock and erase it.

To ensure Find My Device is enabled on your Android phone, go to Settings, then Security & privacy and Find My Device. Alternatively, if your device doesn’t have a Security & privacy option, go to Google, then Find My Device. Find My Device should be turned on. If it’s not, hit the toggle to the on position. 

Find My Phone on Samsung Find My Phone on Samsung

Enable the Find My Mobile setting to make tracking down your phone easier.

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What to do if you have a Samsung phone

Samsung has a service called SmartThings Find, which is similar to Apple’s Find My app. It crowdsources the location of a lost device, even if it’s offline, by telling nearby Samsung Galaxy phones and devices to look for its Bluetooth signal and report its location if found. (This is all done anonymously, so rest easy.)

SmartThings Find is compatible on Galaxy devices running Android 8 or newer. To set it up, go into your phone’s Settings, tap your Samsung account at the top of the menu, click on Find My Mobile then hit the toggle next to Allow this phone to be found. You can also hit the toggle next to Offline finding to make sure you can pinpoint your device even when it’s disconnected from mobile data, as long as it’s powered on.

Now, you’ll be able to see the location of your device(s) via the SmartThings app or website. You can also lock down your device or erase data from it.

How to lock down or track a lost or stolen Android phone

Google's Find My Device feature on web Google's Find My Device feature on web

Google’s Find My Device will show a map of your phone’s location.

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Use Google’s Find My Device service to find your phone

To track down your phone using Android’s baked-in service, go to android.com/find or download Google’s Find My Device app on another Android device. 

Sign into the same Google account linked to your Android phone, and you’ll be able to see its location on a map, even if it’s offline. You can also play a sound to ring your device (even if it’s on silent or vibrate), secure your phone with your PIN or password and factory reset a device you can’t find. Pixel 8 and 8 Pro owners have the added benefit of being able to find their phones even if they’re off or the battery is dead.

The Secure device feature will lock your phone and sign you out of your Google account to keep your data secure. (Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to locate the phone when it’s locked.) If you erase the device, though, you won’t be able to track down your phone, so save this as a last resort.

Once you find your phone, enter your PIN or password to get access. You might also need to log into your Google account to verify that it’s you trying to access the device. 

Samsung's SmartThings on web Samsung's SmartThings on web

Samsung’s SmartThings Find can help you track down your devices.

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If you have a Samsung phone

Along with Google’s Find My Device, Samsung owners can use the SmartThings Find website or app to locate devices like a Galaxy phone, tablet or watch. You can see your phone on a map, ring it to see if it’s somewhere in the house, lock it to prevent others from accessing your data or wipe it. 

On the SmartThings Find website, you’ll see your devices listed to the left. Click on each to find details and actions like locking a phone or erasing data. 

In the SmartThings app, go to the Life tab and click on the Find card at the top of the page. You’ll now see a map with all your devices, as well as options for tracking them down. 

Don’t confront thieves yourself 

If your phone has been stolen and you manage to track it down using one of these services, don’t try to get it back yourself. It could be dangerous, and despite the value of your phone, it just isn’t worth it. Instead, contact local law enforcement to help you recover the phone using the address you’ve found.

If you can’t find your phone

If you have no luck tracking down your phone, contact your carrier and report it as lost or stolen. This will blacklist the phone from the carrier’s database and prevent someone else from using it.

Note that your carrier will also want to suspend your service, which is a good idea for preventing someone from using your phone. But it also means you’ll lose the ability to track it, unless it’s somehow registered on a Wi-Fi network. So bear in mind that’ll be the end of trying to reunite with your device.

Finally, if you have insurance on your phone, you’ll need to file a claim and pay the deductible before getting your replacement phone. Start the insurance claim process through your carrier, who’ll likely refer you to the third-party insurance company that’ll replace your phone.

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