Can an iPhone Be Traced?

By Ashley Poland

Tracking apps allow you to use your computer to locate your iPhone.
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Your iPhone is more than just a phone -- it's practically a handheld computer, complete with GPS to help you figure out where you are and where you're going. This is good news for the chronically lost, and somewhat distressing news for the eternally paranoid. It's not all bad, though. Having a traceable iPhone can help you locate your phone in the event of loss or theft. While the tracking abilities of your iPhone carrier will vary, there are apps you can install to help you track your missing iPhone.

Contacting Your Carrier

Neither AT&T or Verizon makes any mention of being able to track your lost or stolen iPhone via their services on their support pages. Instead you're advised to contact customer support to suspend service. Anecdotal evidence from technology blogger Chris Pirillo, AT&T can track the iPhone's location, but this is not reflected on the AT&T website. In fact, AT&T recommends Find My iPhone to track your missing phone.

Find My iPhone with MobileMe

The Find My iPhone app -- in conjunction with Apple's MobileMe service -- is the official method for tracking and finding your iPhone. Find My iPhone with MobileMe was a paid service until iOS 4.2. Now iPhone users can use this service free of charge. Find My iPhone uses the iPhone's GPS to locate the phone and display the location using Google Maps.


iLocalis is an anti-theft and remote control app for tracking your iPhone, but it will only work on a jailbroken iPhone that uses Cydia. Users with iLocalis installed can track the iPhone's last location, as well as send text messages and make phone calls remotely from the iLocalis website. It also makes it easy to connect to friends.


iHound is a bit different from other tracking apps in that it activates when a missing iPhone is connected to another computer. Once connected, it sends an email to alert you that the device has been connected, with detailed information on the user's IP address and location available on their website.

Mobile Spy

Mobile Spy is designed to track not only GPS locations, but also the phone calls and text messages of the phone that it's installed on. It runs in the background of iPhone activities without needing to be activated. Phone activity is sent to your Mobile Spy account.