How to find a lost Android phone

Authored by a Symantec employee


It’s the first rule of finding lost things — ask yourself where you remember seeing it last. Don’t panic if you don’t remember; many smartphones and tablets on the market now come with apps that can track their location. Those apps may not help you find your lost device every time, but they’re a good place to start.

Were you prepared to lose your Android phone or tablet?

No one wants to lose what belongs to them. But it happens to the best of us. It’s always advisable to take a few steps to ensure that you’re prepared if it happens.

For your Android device, if you had previously downloaded the Find My Device app from the Google Play Store and it was turned on, there’s a good chance it will help you find your lost device. You can click here to see how Google can help.

For Find My Device to work, your device must be connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data, have ‘Location Settings’ turned on, and be visible on Google Play Store. Your Android device must also be signed into a Google Account.

As a precaution, for any smart device you have, write down and save its IMEI, the International Mobile Equipment Identity. It’s a unique, numerical identifier, and every mobile device has one. The IMEI is used to identify a phone’s make, model, and serial number. Look for it under your phone’s settings. If you were to report the loss of your phone to law enforcement, they would need this number for further investigation.

How Norton Mobile Security can help locate your device

If you have Norton Mobile Security installed on your Android device, this app could help you find your device. The app not only gives your Android device excellent protection from malware, viruses, and spyware, but it also comes with anti-theft features, which help secure and locate your lost Android via the web or SMS.

If you’re using the web to access your lost device, you can manage your missing Android by signing in to your Norton account. In the Anti-Theft features pane, click one of the following features and follow the instructions to use these options:

1. Lock device 

Type a custom message that you want to be displayed on the device lock screen, and then click Lock Device. This allows you to lock the device to prevent it from being misused.

2. Lost mode

Click Turn on Lost Mode. This locks your device and automatically tracks it, makes a sound, and even takes photographs to help you find it.

3. Locate

Click Locate Now to display the current location of your phone on a map.

4. Scream

Sometimes your phone is hiding in plain sight. Click Scream to make a loud sound from your device to help you pinpoint its location.

5. Sneak peek

This feature enables you to take a photograph to give you a more accurate view of your device’s location. Click Take Photo* using the front camera of the device.

6. Remove screen lock

Click Remove Screen Lock once you find your lost phone to disable the screen lock and resume using your device.

7. Wipe device

If you know you’ll never get your device back, you can click Wipe Device to delete all personal data from the device.

You can also use Norton Mobile Security’s SMS Anti-Theft features. When signing in to the Manage Anti-Theft Features page, a unique, four-digit passcode is assigned to your device. You can use that passcode for the SMS Anti-Theft features.

Assuming XXXX is the four-digit unique Anti-Theft passcode for your Android device, you can send individual command SMSs to your missing device in the following formats:

  • lock XXXX
  • scream XXXX
  • locate XXXX
  • wipe XXXX

Using a service like Norton Mobile Security not only provides comprehensive protection for your Android device, but also gives you advanced anti-theft features which may not offered by free apps.

How Google can help you find your Android device

For most Android devices, Google provides four ways to remotely find, lock, and erase lost Android devices. However, these settings must be activated on the phone as a precaution before it is lost.

Remote find

Go to and sign into your Google account. You can see the approximate location of your phone or its last known location. Apps like Google Maps may give you a location history of your device.

Play sound

Whether your Android phone is set to ring, vibrate, or remain silent, the ‘Play Sound’ option will allow you to ring your device at full volume for 5 minutes. This may help you if you’re in the vicinity of the device.


Using your security PIN, pattern, or password, you can lock your Android device remotely. If you don’t have a lock, you can set one. You can also display a message or phone number on the lock screen so the finder of the phone can contact you.


As a last resort, you can permanently delete all data on your Android device or do a factory reset. This means you also delete the Find My Phone app, causing it to stop working on your device. If you are lucky enough to find your device after you remotely erased all data, you’ll need your Google Account password to use it again.

What else can you do if you lose your Android smartphone?

There are additional steps you can take when you lose your Android phone. First, call your service provider.

Let your service provider know that your phone is lost or stolen. This may help prevent unauthorized usage and charges. If you have insurance, you can work with your provider to obtain a replacement device.

Second, let the police know. The chances of finding your phone may be slim, but letting law enforcement know helps in case someone uses your phone to commit a crime. You may be required to give the police the IMEI number of the lost phone.

Device theft or loss can’t always be avoided, but taking a few precautions may make it easier for you to get back on track if it happens.

A security suite that helps protect your devices.

Free security software just doesn’t have the resources to keep up with new threats as they emerge. That’s why you need a multi-layered defense to security. Meet Norton Security Premium — protection for up to 10 of your devices.

Disclaimers and references:

*Availability of this feature varies by region

Symantec Corporation, the world’s leading cyber security company, allows organizations, governments, and people to secure their most important data wherever it lives. More than 50 million people and families rely on Symantec’s Norton and LifeLock comprehensive digital safety platform to help protect their personal information, devices, home networks, and identities.

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