DATA DOCTORS

Handy tech tips all Valley residents should use to find lost phones in a snap

Apr 13, 2024, 5:00 AM

Patrick Mahomes #15 and head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs are recorded on a phone as t...

Patrick Mahomes #15 and head coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs are recorded on a phone as they celebrates their 38 to 35 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Q: My phone went missing, and I haven’t been able to locate it using the Find My service, so what should I do next?

A: Few things in the digital age are as stressful as losing your smartphone, so understanding how the ‘Find My’ service works for both iPhone and Android users is important.

If your device has been missing for a long period, the battery has likely died which can make it more difficult to track.

Lost iPhones

If you’ve previously turned on ‘Find My iPhone, Find My Network and Send Last Location,’ you can go to https://www.icloud.com/find on any computer to attempt to locate your device.

The last known location should have automatically been sent to Apple on your behalf if the battery levels got critically low.

This would still require a cellular or Wi-Fi connection at the time to be sent, so if your iPhone was offline when the battery level became low, this helpful information may not be available.

Apple’s ‘Find My network’ extends the ability to find your phone by using Bluetooth from other nearby Apple devices.

This only works if you have Bluetooth turned on and lose your phone in an area that has other Apple devices nearby – generally 30 to 100 meters or 100 to 330 feet depending upon obstructions.

Locating your device is much easier in an airport than if you lost it at the top of a ski resort for example.

When you tap ‘Mark As Lost’ in the Find My interface, you can leave a phone number and message in the event it’s found.  Selecting ‘Activate’ will lock your device using the existing passcode.

As a precaution, I’d suggest changing your Apple ID password along with any other critical passwords such as email or banking credentials.

If you believe that your phone has been stolen, you can send a remote erase command that will only work if your device regains Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity.

Lost Android phones

If you’re using an Android device, Google’s updated tracking network has similar options that must be turned on in advance.

Previously, it only worked if the phone had connectivity, but with the latest updates, it’s also able to help track devices via Bluetooth.

Pixel 8 Powered-Off Tracking

One of the new updates for those with Pixel 8 devices is the ability to track the device even if it’s turned off or the battery is dead.

This is possible due to specialized hardware in Pixel devices that reserves power that is channeled to the Bluetooth chip for several hours.

There is speculation that this excellent feature may become available on other Android devices as equipment manufacturers incorporate the same technology in future devices.

Be patient

Depending upon where you lost your device, it may take several days for it to make it to either a lost and found or in the hands of someone who sees your lost message on the screen.

If you’ve secured your accounts by changing your passwords, you can try using the various online interfaces for email and texting for a while before replacing the phone.

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Handy tech tips all Valley residents should use to find lost phones in a snap