We show you how to find your lost Android phone with the help of five mobile apps and without the assistance of Google.
What do you do when you’ve lost your Android smartphone or, even worse, it’s been stolen? Users of Apple’s iOS mobile software benefit from the free ‘Find My iPhone’ app – made by Apple – that allows them to locate their device and protect their data.
Android users instead have to rely on third-party apps with varying degrees of effectiveness and cost. We’d like to see Google match Apple by adding a ‘lost phone’ app as standard to Android. Similar to the solution it offers business and paying Google Apps users, where they can find, lock, wipe or call/text their own phone.
Hopefully this will arrive at Google I/O in May, the developer conference at which Google often unveils changes to Android. In the meantime, here are some of the best third-party apps for finding your Android phone and protecting your data when things go wrong.
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1) Where’s My Droid
Where’s My Droid was one of the first ‘find your phone’ apps on the Android market. It enables you to track down a lost or stolen phone via GPS location. You then have options to trigger the phone to ring if you think it may be nearby, or request a Google Maps link with its location to be sent via email.
A nice feature is that you can track your phone from anywhere in the world via a text message ‘attention word’, but activate ‘stealth mode’ to ensure the person in possession of the phone is not alerted.
The app is free to download, but you need to pay extra for a Pro account to get its more advanced features, such as remote lock and wipe, or being able to take pictures with the camera.
Price: Free to download, $3.99 (£2.60) for a Pro account and the more advanced features.
Cerberus allows you to track and take remote control of your phone through the Cerberus website, or via text message if you can’t get to a computer. A SIM Checker alerts you if someone has used your phone with an unauthorised SIM, and there are even more nifty features.
The app can take a photo with the phone’s camera when the wrong PIN code is entered, as well as record audio from the microphone, get a list of all calls sent and received, and hide Cerberus from the app drawer to keep a potential thief clueless.
You can also take your Cerberus account with you if you change Android phones, by re-downloading the app and inputting your username and password.
Price: Free to download, €2.99 (£2.50) for a lifetime subscription, which is impressive value.
Lookout Security is probably the most popular lost phone app currently available on Android, with more than 30 million users worldwide. The app has various features for tracking down your phone, along with measures for protecting it from viruses and malware.
You can find and locate your device using Google Maps via Lookout.com. The app also allows you to trigger the phone to sound an alarm to reveal its position, or take a picture of anyone trying to access it.
Price: Free to download, remote lock and remote wipe requires a paid subscription ($2.99/£2 a month or $29.99/£20 a year), which is quite expensive.
Find My Phone uses mobile phone mast triangulation to locate a smartphone. The app accesses secure data from mobile companies to detect the phone’s location between different masts, and then plots it on a map.
You can link Find My Phone with other devices with the app installed, meaning you can help find your spouse, kids or friends’ phone too, or track where they are.
Price: Free to download with a set amount of free location searches, $4.99/£3.26 for a monthly subscription to locate any type of phone an unlimited number of times.
Long-running WaveSecure offers broadly the same functionality as the above apps – remote lock, remote wipe, location tracking, etc – but is now backed by the Intel-owned security software giant McAfee.
Alongside tracking and taking remote control of your phone, you are also able to back up your data to the cloud, and restore your device. Additional protection is available through WaveSecure Uninstall Protection Add-on (UPA), which locks your phone when it detects that the security app has been removed by another user.
Price: Free to downlaod, an annual subscription of $19.99 (£13) puts it at the more expensive end of the market.
Which? expert note