Losing your smartphone can be a tough blow to bear. Aside from the obvious cost of replacing them, smartphones are for most of us a personal assistant; they house our personal information, passwords bank and financial details, the kind of things you wouldn’t want someone else to have access to.
The good news is if you do lose your phone all hope is not lost. There’s a chance of recovering it, and in this article we shall run through the most popular and effective ways of achieving this goal.
Using the find my phone feature
Most modern smartphones (anything manufactured after 2010) come with a find my phone feature that allows you to track your device in Nigeria remotely. For Android phones, all you need to do is first, login into the Google account associated with your lost phone on another device, i.e., via Gmail then click on this link https://www.google.com/android/find
This will automatically take you a find my phone portal displaying the approximate location of your phone in Nigeria and three additional options including one to ring an alarm, another to secure your device (lock it and sign out of your google account) and lastly one to erase your device.
On an IOS device, you can simply log onto https://www.icloud.com/find after which you will be prompted to input your iCloud details. Like the Android portal, there’s an option to sound an alarm, secure your phone or remotely erase all the data it contains.
Note however that the find your phone feature is only functional if your lost phone ticks the following checkboxes:
The device is turned on, signed into your google account/iCloud account, has an active internet connection, has the find my phone feature turned on, and for remote location has location turned on.
From this, it’s easy to see that this method can be easily bypassed. That’s not to say it isn’t effective though, the trick is to act fast. Once you suspect your phone is missing, quickly log on to the find my phone portal and start with sounding the emergency alarm. If this fails, attempt to track the phone, and as a last resort request a remote erase to safeguard your sensitive data.
Tracking with the IMEI of your phone
Your phone’s IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity is a unique string of numbers issued by the phone’s manufacturer. In elementary terms it functions as your phone’s identifier – it is for the most part infallible and no other smartphone (or electronic device for that matter) bears the same number. What this means is that while a phone thief can factory reset or wipe your phone to a clean slate, he or she cannot definitively alter its IMEI.
Now, to understand how IMEI tracking works let’s take a basic tutorial on how your phone connects to a mobile network. When a phone with a functioning SIM card is switched on it communicates with the network via the nearest phone tower (mast). It is this mast (the one nearest to the phone at any instance) that beams signals from or to the phone – it functions as an intermediary. However before it accepts to perform the work of an intermediary, the phone must first provide a valid means of identification – the ID card in this case is its IMEI number.
This invariably means that network providers (and anybody else who has access to the network logs) possess a record of the IMEI of all phones connected to the network. If your lost phone were to ever connect to a mobile network, it can be identified through its IMEI, and since all masts are geotagged, tracked via the mast currently beaming its signal. If all this sounds too complicated, that’s because it actually is complicated. And no you cannot do it yourself.
Tracking your phone via its IMEI is legally done with the help of the police in collaboration with network providers. They alone possess the tools and privileged access to network infrastructure needed to orchestrate an IMEI track.
Summarily put, if you’re intended on tracking your phone via its IMEI, head over to the police station. The first step would be to file in an official report before indicating that you would want an IMEI track. Hopefully, they should take it from there. I’ve heard from some people that SARS officials allegedly collect 10,000 NGN to fastrack the process, but that is still subject to verification. One thing that is, however, clear is you have to tender a valid proof of ownership along with the phone’s IMEI. You can find your phone’s IMEI located on its back panel, battery or retail packaging. Dialing the code *#06# also works, but that’s assuming you still have your phone.
Installing third party apps
If your phone is not yet lost (not that we are praying for it to get lost) and you’d like to take precautionary measure against theft, then this is for you. Third party apps function in many ways. Some work like the find your mobile application that ships with your phone, others employ sneakier tactics. Two of the latter will be the subject of our discussion
In addition to most of the conventional Find My Phone features, this apps programs your phone to broadcast a ‘GPS flare’ just before its battery runs down. But that’s not its most impressive party trick; LocateMyDroid will discretely send an SMS to a preprogrammed number if your SIM card gets changed. Highly effective against local crooks who do not bother to format a stolen phone
Lookout Mobile Security
Unlike locateMyDroid, Lookout is available to both IOS and Android users. This app takes the business of securing your phone up a notch by taking a picture of someone who tries unlock your phone unsuccessfully. So, assuming someone stole your phone and was trying to gain access forcefully this app takes a quick selfie (again discretely), stores the image before forwarding it to preconfigured contacts. Neat.
There are tons of other security apps out there. Most however, provide redundant features already available by default via your phone’s Find My Mobile feature. That said, we are always keeping an eye out for apps that bring a different value proposition to the phone security table. Trust that we would update this article if we do find any.