Anyone with a smartphone nowadays is or at least should be aware of the fact that to track mobile phone is possible. In fact privacy is an issue in many ways – and perhaps most of all when it comes to location tracking.
Any modern phone is also the equivalent of a GPS unit one carries in one’s pocket wherever one goes. If you use an iPhone or an Android phone and keep the location service active you can go on Google Maps right now and see an exact history of your every move.
The possibility of track mobile phone comes with its advantages. Otherwise we wouldn’t use it – such as being able to find a lost / stolen phone in the hope of recovering it, or knowing the whereabouts of your kids and family members.
Track mobile phone with GSM, not GPS
You might think tracking mobile phone is a relatively new feature that belongs to smartphones, with their location function, but it’s not. Then there is the common misconception that all smartphones have built-in GPS, which is false – most don’t. The location tracking system they use GSM technology. There was a time, before the age of smartphones, when GPS was much more common in phones than it is now. There are nowadays various types of accurate tracking that don’t involve GPS. Most of the basic one is via the GSM signal itself. Without getting too much into details, here’s how it works.
Carrier Mobile Phone tracking (paid; for smartphones) –
The name “Cell phones” means they operate on a network of cells – that is, areas of signal coverage created by cell towers. These towers have antennae and all the hardware necessary to emit and receive GSM signal. A phone constantly gives a signal, called roaming signal, that detect the nearest cell tower. The whole GSM system works because of the phone’s ability to always connect to the strongest-emitting (that is, closest) cell tower. This roaming signal, which your phone sends all the time, allows to locate it.
The accuracy of this method depends on the density of cell towers. It is most accurate in cities and highly inaccurate in rural areas. This method can benefit from the addition of software such as Google Maps, which makes it possible to locate the device based on more specific interpretation of the cell signals
The software employs different techniques that work both with and independent from the service provider, usually at the same time. Track mobile phone by SIM is possible too and is more accurate than the other methods. We have put together a list of various ways, mostly software-based but not only, in which can you locate a phone for whatever purposes. Most of these free of charge and some are available for legacy devices such as Blackberry, Windows Phone or even the old Java-operated phones.
Some carriers offer a permanent service ti track mobile phone, essentially designed for parents. Whit this service they will be able to locate their kids and for people to locate family in general. This isn’t free of charge, but some providers do offer free trial periods for it so you can decide if you want it or not.
AccuTracking mobile phone (paid; for most phones, including older ones) –
Also not free, but very reliable. For iPhone and Android but also still available for Windows Mobile, Blackberry and old Java phones. It’s a service in itself, not involving carriers and independent of your phone’s location settings. You pay for it and it helps you very accurately track your phone from your PC. AccuTracking also offers the same service for GPS trackers.
Mologogo (free; for older phones with GPS) –
According to the official website, this app is not available now – since March 2016 – and they are going to update it to support new platforms. We cannot know if and when it will become officially available again. But you can download various versions of it for various platforms from all around the web. It supports old Java mobile phones as well as Blackberry and Windows Mobile. It installs on your phone and enables location to track mobile phone using the built-in GPS, if there is one. You can see the map on the phone’s screen and on any device with Internet access. The problem with it was – and probably still is – that it wouldn’t work on most GPS-enabled phones because the cellphone companies use to lock the GPS info away from the end-user.
Prey (free or paid; for smartphones) –
This is an application that’s aimed at recovering stolen smartphones, tablets and laptops. It installs on the device and works based on the concept of Control Zones. You designate these zones on the map of your city and the app lets you know when the device enters or leaves them. It runs on Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. In the free version you can track up to 3 devices and use 1 control zone. There are three increasingly expensive packages that offer support for more – up to an unlimited number of – devices and control zones, plus extra security and data protection features.
iCloud / Find My iPhone / others (free; for iPhone) –
The service to track mobile phone as iPhones is on iCloud and it can recover a lost device. You don’t need to have the Find My iPhone app installed. You do need to activate the Find My iPhone feature when you set up your iPhone. The service is permanently available and you have to log into iCloud from any browser or by installing Find My iPhone on another device and tracking your lost device from there. There are various third-party tracking apps available on the AppStore that can help you track other smartphone users.
Google Find My Device and other solutions for Android (free; for Android) –
Google Find My Device requires your device to be on, to have location services on and to log into your Google Account. If all these three are true, you can log into your Google Account from any browser and locate your device. You have the option to play a sound on it or. Also you can the set up on the device itself, to lock it and/or erase the data. There are free anti-theft and general tracking third-party apps for Android such as Cerberus and others. They provide a wide array of tracking and security features once installed on your phone.
Blackberry Protect (free; for Blackberry) –
For Blackberry 10 phones there is a built-in service called Blackberry Protect, which has to be activated in the phone’s settings. Once activated, you can log into Blackberry Protect from any browser by using your Blackberry ID. The service uses GPS, so it will have issues if the device is underground or blocked from the GPS network. For older Blackberry phones – and for Blackberry 10 as well – there are still a variety of third-party tracking apps available both paid and for free.
Microsoft’s find My Phone (free; for Windows Phone) –
Windows Phones had a built-in service similar to those described above, called Find My Phone, which is still operational. It doesn’t require activation or any special settings on the phone, but you do have the option to activate saving the location periodically.
So you can find a lost device even if the location service is off. Just as is the case with Blackberry, Windows Phones too can run an array of third-party tracking apps that are still available to download.
IMEI number (free; for any phone) –
Every phone has a unique IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. You can find this number by dialing *#06# on your phone. If your phone has been stolen or lost, you can call your service provider and ask to locate your phone. Since this is purely device-based, it will work even if someone is using your phone with a different SIM. Once found, you can ask for the phone to be blocked.
These guidelines should be enough to help you find any device, older or newer, provided it is yours or that you have permission to look for its location.
There are situations when tracking a phone can be very important. Also now you can to aware of the most effective way to do this according to one’s needs.