Is your phone stolen? Do you suspect that it is online? That it hasn’t been erased? Last time I lost my Samsung Galaxy S2 the phone stayed connected for about three hours before the thief switched it off to finally erase it. Within the three hours, if I was in a position to track it, I could have… I had installed Android Lost and the App could have given me the phone’s location to a few meters. Actually with Android Lost, I could always track the phone to within 5 meters radius.

After about three hours the thief finally switched the phone off and later restored it to Factory setting thereby erasing all my data, including tracking data. By the way to erase most phones to factory setting is one of the easiest things to do. Consider these steps for Samsung Galaxy phones and Lumia phones as examples:

How to restore factory settings on Nokia Lumia 800 device

  • Hold down the Power button until your phone switches off.
  • Press and hold the Volume Down key, Power and Camera buttons at the same time.
  • Hold all three buttons until you feel the phone vibrate, then release the Power button only.
  • Continue to hold the Volume Down key and Camera button for a further 10 seconds, and then release both.
  • Your phone will reset, turn itself back on and then start going through the setup process.

Samsung Galaxy S – Reset to factory settings

  • Press and hold the following buttons
  • Volume up + Power + Home
  • This will bring up a small menu
  • Using the volume keys navigate to “Wipe data/Factory reset”
  • This option should restore your mobile to its default settings.

What the above options tell you is that anyone can restore your phone to factory setup without having to access the phone’s settings or menu, just in case you protected the phone with a password or PIN; which therefore means that a thief is not barred from using the phone simply because you had enabled a password related protection. Thus Apps or other online methods available for tracking lost phones are most of the time as good as useless; and that’s why the tradition mobile service provider in conjunction with CID route is still your best bet.

Having realized that I could not track the Samsung Galaxy S2 using Android Lost the following day, I reported the phone to the police, got in touch with Safaricom, and with help of a CID officer we embarked on the painful task of tracking the phone. Up to date, the Samsung Galaxy S2 has not been registered with the current user details on Safaricom. According to Safaricom, I am still the person using the phone. So I gave up on that one too. Latest news I received from the CID, news that was verified by a River Road mobile phone repairer, is that nowadays thieves are able to change a phone’s IMEI – I am yet to verify this.

The reason I could not easily track my phone using Android Lost within the three hours after the theft was because I needed to access Internet, log in to my Android Lost Account, and request the App to do the tracking, a long and tedious process especially when you are extremely anxious and in a hurry to get results.

This is why the news that you can now find your lost phone using Google Search is somewhat good news, even though the thieves can still render the phone untraceable simply by restoring the phone to factory setting.

Via Google Search, what you need to do is simply type in “Find My Phone” into Google Search Bar, and that’s it. Google will immediately start the process of tracking down your phone, and if you are unlucky as I was, Google can pin down your phone to about 4 Kms radius. After your phone has been found you can actually ring it.

Finally let me credit @iAfrikan for bringing this new Google Search feature to our attention.


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