Losing your cell phone is no fun. In addition to losing touch with friends and family, modern smartphones contain critical personal and financial information, such as contact details and passwords. Fortunately, the GPS functionality built into today's smartphones allows lost phones to be located using a Web browser, either on a second smartphone or a laptop.
Find My iPhone
Tap the "Settings" icon on your iPhone. Swipe down to and tap the "iCloud" option. This step must be performed before you lose the phone, since the Find My iPhone service cannot function after the fact.
Move the "Find My iPhone" slider to the right to activate the feature. This turns on the locating service so you can find the device from a browser on a computer.
Open a Web browser on another computer or portable device and navigate to iCloud.com. Sign in using your Apple ID and password. Click on the "Find My iPhone" icon when it appears.
Click on the "Devices" button in the pop-up window. Click on the name of your lost iPhone and locate your missing device on the map.
Click on the "Lost Mode" icon to create a password if you haven't already done so. This locks the phone. Enter an alternate phone number and message to relay to the person in possession of the device so that he can contact you to arrange for your phone to be returned.
Click the "Erase iPhone" option if you suspect the iPhone cannot be recovered. Enter your password to erase the device when prompted. This function reverts the device back to factory defaults, protecting any sensitive personal information on the phone from prying eyes.
Plan B for Android
Open a Web browser on a computer or another Web-based mobile device and go to the Plan B website (link in Resources).
Log in to your Google Play account. Click on the blue "Install" button on the Plan B homepage. Click "Install" again after selecting the appropriate Android device from the pop-up list.
Wait for an email in your Gmail account. Open the message, which shows you the approximate location of your lost Android device on a map. Watch for additional emails as Plan B continues to refine the precise location of your Android device.
- Other apps are available in the Android Market for locating a lost Android device, such as Where's My Droid and Android Lost Free. These apps must be installed on the device before it is lost.
- Secondary device with Web access (computer, tablet, smartphone)
- Active Gmail account
- Active Google Play account
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