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How to find a lost smartphone

Did you know you can remotely locate, ring, lock or erase your smartphone just by asking Google? Plus new security measures designed to keep your phone safe

Google has revamped its handy phone-tracking tool, Find My Device, which you can use through Google Chrome.

Find My Device was previously known as Android Device Manager, and it you can use it to control a smartphone from a PC, Mac or other mobile device. The service been re-released alongside Google’s new malware-busting tool, Play Protect. Keep scrolling for details on how to recover your lost phone, and how to keep it secure if it falls into the wrong hands.

Track down your smartphone – 3 simple steps

1. Type ‘find my phone’ into Google

Click on the first result, or navigate straight to Google’s Find your phone page. We suggest you set up the service right away, as you don’t want to lose your phone and miss out on being able to track it remotely. Click Sign in to start and follow the steps to pair your mobile with your Google account.

2. Select your phone

Once you’ve linked your phone to Google, you’ll be able to interact with it through your Chrome browser, or from another mobile. Click the picture of the phone and you’ll be taken to a page that lets you interact with it from whenever you are.

3. Ring, lock, locate or erase

The Find your phone page will hopefully be able to reunite you with your mobile. You can check recent security-related activities to see if your Google password has been changed, and you can call or lock your smartphone if you think it’s been stolen or left in a public place. Click Locate and you’ll be presented with a map pinpointing your mobile’s last known location, along with a battery-life indicator.

By selecting Lock your phone, you can choose to display a custom message and a phone number on the lock screen of the lost gadget (see below). This will make it easy to return if somebody else has found it.

As a last resort, you can also erase device data. Doing so means you’ll permanently lose all the files on your device, but it will guarantee that your personal information isn’t accessible to somebody who’s picked up the phone. If you select this option, the phone will be erased the next time it’s online. That obviously means you won’t be able to delete what’s stored on it if it’s switched off.

Prone to losing your smartphone? Sometimes it’s difficult to go without a mobile for any length of time. Check out our simple phone reviews to read about phones that cost as little as £5.

How to find a lost iPhone

Apple has its own phone-tracking service, unsurprisingly named Find my iPhone. To turn it on you’ll need to head to Settings, tap iCloud and then select Find my iPhone. Once it’s enabled, you can go to your PC or laptop and open iCloud.com if you lose your phone. As with Find My Device, you can use Apple’s service to play a sound on your phone, even if it was on vibrate or silent when you originally misplaced it.

Find my iPhone includes Lost mode, which will display a contact number of your choice on the lock screen. Remote delete is also available.

Best Buy smartphones – our experts recommend these top models.

What else does Google Play Protect have to offer?

Aside from the Find My Device makeover, Google has also released an app scanner for the Play Store called Play Protect, which is being rolled out to Android devices. When you download an app, a malware scan will run to make sure your personal information isn’t at risk. Apps that are deemed ‘safe’ will be marked with a Play Protect logo, which helps you steer clear of those that slow down your device and leave you open to hackers.

According to Google, Play Protect scans ‘billions of apps’ daily. It can also monitor apps on your phone for dodgy behaviour and warn you about suspicious websites, as well as offering the sorts of anti-theft features described above.

We test the latest antivirus software for smartphones in our lab, and only the apps that are easy to use and super secure are worthy of being Best Buys. We’ve tested mobile security apps from the likes of Avast, McAfee and Norton. For more details, see our mobile security app reviews page, or see our guide on keeping your mobile phone secure.

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