How to track a stolen Android phone

This post is part of a series on how to locate devices on any of the four major smartphone operating systems. If this isn’t the right guide for your device, you can go back to the main article for links to the others.

Initially Google’s Android operating system was bereft of the likes of Apple’s ‘Find my iPhone’ service but there were, and still are, a host of options for the security conscious user to protect themselves with. Thankfully though the official Android Device Manager was launched as a stand-alone application in the Google Play Store at the end of 2013 and can be downloaded for any device using Android 2.2 or higher.

Android phones and tablets with active cellular connections will be able to locate themselves using the cellular networks, WiFi only tablet will need to connect to a WiFi network for their location to be mapped.


  • Ring – Your Android device will ring at maximum volume for five minutes to help you find where it is. You can stop the ringing by pressing the power button.
  • Lock – Replace your standard Android lock screen with a new password and an optional message that will appear when the device is unlocked.
  • Erase – This performs a factory reset on your device which erases all apps, photos, music and settings. After you erase the device, Android Device Manager will no longer be able to track the device. If your device is offline the factory reset will occur as soon as it goes online again.

How to set up Android Device Manager

  • Open the All Apps Menu and select ‘Google Settings’ (it’s a grey logo with a white ‘g’ and gear in its top right hand corner).
  • Select Android Device Manager.
  • You turn on the following options:
    • Remotely locate this device – Find your device and show its location on Google Maps. For devices running 4.1 and higher you have to enable location access (go to Google Settings > Location > Access location).
    • Allow remote lock and factory reset – Allows both the device lock and erase functions to work.

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