The cell phone is gone! With an expensive smartphone, which can easily cost 800 euros or more, this is often a real shock and the question quickly arises as to where you might have left the device. Or maybe your smartphone was stolen? Fortunately, it is quite easy to locate your cell phone and thus to find it again in many cases. Which requirements there are for it, how one can locate the own cell phone and which Apps or programs one needs for it, is represented in the following text more exactly. And there is information on how to locate a cell phone in general – for example, to check the location of your friends.
Alternatively, in some cases you can also benefit from being able to remotely lock your phone or reset it to factory settings. You can’t get your smartphone back from this, but a potential thief also can’t access private photos, phone numbers and other sensitive data. With some manufacturers there is this possibility, so that one can remove then all data from the device. However, you won’t be able to access it yourself in the future, and all your data will be irrevocably lost – unless it has been backed up externally, for example in the cloud.
Many cell phones offer factory protection
Technically, most cell phones (and tablets, too) are already equipped at the factory so that you can locate them if necessary. A positioning service is usually integrated in devices from Apple, Google or Microsoft, so that the device can be tracked via GPS. In addition to the GPS function, the WLAN is also used, which is also suitable for localization. The current whereabouts including the valid coordinates can be retrieved in a relatively targeted manner – with Apple, this is possible with the own Apple ID via icloud.com, for example, is easily possible for all of one’s own devices. You do not need to plan a long search, but can easily find the location of the device.
In any case, the GPS function in the smartphone must be activated. Otherwise it is not possible to locate him. If the GPS is activated, however, the location can be very accurate – in most cases, this is possible up to 15 meters and thus very precise. However, this only applies to localization outside closed rooms. Inside buildings, tracking isn’t quite as accurate in many cases. Nevertheless, a location is of course usually helpful and if you can locate your cell phone, you will find it again faster in most cases.
Some manufacturers offer their own tracking options
In addition to the integrated functions for locating cell phones in the individual devices, you can also find additional offers for locating with some manufacturers. This makes it possible to carry out tracking independently of the options on the device side. However, these functions are declining and are no longer offered in every case. This also has to do with the fact that in the devices such a function is increasingly usable – and the additional location services thus have little use. So it’s better to find out directly about the device and possible functions for locating the cell phone.
Watch out: To locate a cell phone, location services must be permanently activated
If you want to locate your own cell phone or have it located, it is important that the integrated location services are actually activated. It is important that the GPS tracking is switched on, so that an exact localization of the device is possible. Otherwise, there is still the option of locating the device via WLAN or using the mobile phone cells for this purpose – but this is much less precise. In a big city you might be able to achieve a certain success, but in the countryside the possibilities dwindle relatively quickly.
Tip for users:
Leave GPS tracking switched on as a matter of principle and only use it for individual apps such as Facebook and Co. if required. deactivate. In this way, you can at least have your cell phone located in urgent cases.
And one more thing is important to know. Before using the tracking functions for the first time, they must be activated once. For data protection reasons these are deactivated at the beginning. And once the smartphone can not be found, you can not activate them. If you have activated the corresponding function, you can not only locate the device with it. You can also
- Playing alarms on the device,
- Show hints on the display or
- Erasing data from the device even remotely.
Do you really need additional apps then?
Although many smartphones offer such functions, there are also a number of apps that promise something similar. A localization in case of need is supposed to be possible with it – but of course you have to ask yourself if you need such an app – mostly paid – at all then. With such an app, it should be possible to locate the cell phone from a computer or from another cell phone, for example. The app developers want to draw attention to themselves with additional functions.
The corresponding applications are usually only conditionally free of charge. For a few weeks or even for a month – if you want to access the app’s service permanently, you have to pay for it. Often it is necessary to sign up for a subscription that runs for a longer period of time.
What other functions do such apps offer??
With such an app you have the possibility to use many other functions as well. Individual apps also offer virus protection, for example, or protect the phone against harmful content. Other applications take photos in the background when you report a theft – so you can possibly identify a thief (or the current user).
Whether one really needs such an App, must decide in the end each user for itself. In any case, they offer a corresponding range of functions, so you can work out for yourself whether you want to pay for them. Above all, such apps are suitable if you want to secure your smartphone extensively and, for example, define the permissions of individual apps in detail. If, on the other hand, you only want to have one way to locate your cell phone, a free option is sufficient in most cases. And you can also find your own cell phone again.
Users do not have 100 percent security
With the tracking functions, you can find a cell phone in many cases, but you don’t have 100 percent security. It’s too easy to circumvent the functions offered by app developers, manufacturers and even providers. If the Internet connection is cut or the device is switched off, for example, it is much more difficult to locate a cell phone. And even if the SIM card is exchanged, the location of a cell phone is in many cases no longer possible so easily.
And even if the device is simply switched off, GPS and Co. still work. no longer. This also means that localization is no longer possible. It is therefore advisable to take action as soon as possible after the disappearance of the smartphone and to find out directly where the device is. In this way, you still have a realistic chance of locating your cell phone and finding it again. This applies at least if the device was really stolen. If you have only lost the device, it can be located as long as it is switched on and has reception.
By the way, if the phone is turned off, tracking can only be done to the extent that the last active location is displayed. This can at least provide a clue in case of a case.
Experts therefore recommend that you always set up a screen lock in addition to the activated tracking option. If the cell phone is stolen, you can only use it if you know this access code. Otherwise, the smartphone is unusable in many cases, since unlocking it often requires a lot of effort.
Legal aspects of cell phone tracking also pose hurdles
And even the current law in Germany offers some hurdles for cell phone owners and does not always make it easy to get a stolen device back or to find it. This aspect should be known and considered in any case. After all, despite all the hassle, you probably don’t want to make yourself liable to prosecution.
If you locate the phone and can identify it by its unique IMEI number, you can get the device back – by force if necessary. However, this only applies if you catch a thief in the act. If you have to locate the device first, this legal basis no longer applies.
Tip: The IMEI number of a cell phone can be found out via the keyboard with the abbreviation *#06#. In addition, this is usually also in the documentation for the smartphone. Ideally, you should always make a note of this number.
If you have been able to locate the cell phone and know that it has been stolen, you must inform the police. This is then responsible and must proceed accordingly. The right to help oneself only applies if the police cannot intervene in time. And even in the case of selling the stolen smartphone, you as the owner don’t have to worry about possibly not getting the device back. Because even then you remain the rightful owner. In this case, the buyer is simply out of luck and has to return the device.
Hardly any protection against professional offenders
Location services, apps and other measures hardly offer any protection against professional perpetrators. Those who really know their way around this area will take appropriate measures shortly after the theft to ensure that it will not be possible to locate them. Flight mode, removing the SIM card or even switching off the device – all this is already sufficient. In many cases, such perpetrators also manage to read sensitive data from the device and use it accordingly. But if the device is stolen by a less experienced perpetrator, you have a good chance to succeed with tracking and to get your cell phone back.
The services offered by Apple, Microsoft and Co. are usually sufficient for this purpose, and you do not have to rely on additional apps.
Locate cell phone to find friends
Not only in case of theft you can locate a cell phone. Because the integrated functions can usually be used in other ways as well. For example, Apple offers the "Friends" app, which makes it easy to find out the location of your contacts via GPS and their phone numbers. However, it is necessary to grant the app the appropriate rights so that friends and other contacts can track your phone at all.
And even family members can be easily located by using the tracking function of the cell phone. This can be particularly reassuring for parents, who always know where their children are – or at least where their cell phone is located. For other parents, however, this is not an option and spying on their children is a real no-go. As with the decision for localization apps, the decision is also up to the user.
What can you do if the tracking does not work??
If a missing cell phone cannot be located, good advice is initially expensive. But even then there are still possibilities and solutions. In any case, if your phone is stolen, you should not hesitate to report it to the police. This way, the device can be searched for accordingly and the chance of getting it back increases a bit. Otherwise, the previously used SIM card should be blocked by the provider. This can be done quite easily by phone, so at least you don’t give the thief the option to use the SIM card to make calls or use mobile data.
However: If you want a new SIM card, you usually have to pay a fee for it. Telekom, for example, charges 30 euros for this, while Vodafone charges only 10 euros. Depending on the provider, you may receive a new SIM card free of charge – but this is not the rule.
Can the location of the cell phone also be specifically prevented??
You don’t always want to be able to locate your own cell phone. If you have a jealous girlfriend, for example, this can quickly lead to discussions. Reason enough to ask yourself whether you can also prevent the cell phone from being located. Yes, this is possible. Just as you have to activate the tracking function, you can also deactivate it again.
But this is not the only way to be located in many cases. Even when posting on Facebook or Twitter, your location is often stored – so it can be easy to find out your location. It can also be helpful to turn off the GPS in your cell phone if you don’t want to be tracked. In flight mode, for example, this is automatically the case. There are also special apps that are designed to prevent spying.
However, these often cost money and the benefit is doubtful, at least for some applications. And above all, the integrated functions in the cell phone are usually sufficient if you also want to prevent tracking from time to time.
Tip: Switch off Bluetooth as well!
This also includes that one should switch off the Bluetooth function of the smartphone. Because even inside buildings very accurate tracking is possible with it – and many users don’t even know about it.
If you are also using the mobile Internet, it may also be possible to track you. This becomes clear when you scroll all the way down on Google’s home page, for example. There you can usually find a current location where the phone has been located. If you want to avoid this and not be found, you should in the best case directly cut the mobile data connection. But: You will not be able to surf the net while on the move.
Is it always legal to track a cell phone??
Basically, there is nothing to say against locating a cell phone because it is missing. However, it is quite another thing to find not the phone, but the person who is currently using the device. In this case, the search is for a person – and in Germany and many other countries, this is the responsibility of the police without exception. This means that you can even be prosecuted if you search for a person on your own initiative by having your cell phone tracked.
If the phone is really gone, it doesn’t always have to be tracked. In many cases, it is enough to dial your own phone number once – perhaps the cell phone will ring in the next room or an honest finder will call you.
Conclusion: In many cases, a cell phone can be located
If your cell phone is lost or stolen, you don’t have to bury your head in the sand. There are several options for locating your cell phone, and in many cases you can find it again quickly. Of course, this is especially true if the cell phone was simply lost and you can then locate it in the garden. In the event of theft, on the other hand, there is no time to lose – as technically savvy thieves often take immediate measures to make it impossible to locate the cell phone.
Apple, Microsoft and other manufacturers now offer appropriate technology such as GPS in the devices themselves, so that a location of a cell phone is possible in most cases. External apps can therefore be dispensed with in many cases. Nevertheless, these offer with virus protection and Co. of course also interesting functions, which are useful for many users.
If you want to locate your own phone, you can do this for example online or via another phone – but for this the location has to be activated first. And: In case of theft, you should also contact the police in any case.
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