How to Find a Lost Phone If the Battery Is Dead?

By Jen Cordwainer

Pinpoint your lost iPhone's location with low-battery GPS alerts and geofencing.
i Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Modern cell phones can be major financial investments, containing personal data and other information vital to your everyday life. Losing a device like this can be an extremely frustrating experience. Luckily, most phones come with unique serial numbers, which can be used by authorities to match recovered phones with their owners. Additionally, some phones have operating system features, such as Find My iPhone or Android Device Manager, which can help you view the last known location of your device and set up future notifications.

Retrace Your Steps

Begin your search immediately after you discover that your phone is lost. This reduces the likelihood that someone else will find it or move the phone to a new location. Visualize everywhere you have gone since you last saw your phone. If you visited a public place, such as a grocery store or library, check in with its lost and found department. Call your number periodically in case someone has recovered your device, charged it and switched it back on.

Give the Serial Number to Authorities

Search for phone packaging and receipts at home, which might display your device's unique serial number. If you have thrown away these materials, you might still be able to recover the serial number from your carrier or from your cell phone vendor. Report this identifier to the police so they can contact you if the device is recovered.

ICloud (iPhones)

ICloud is part of the iPhone's operating system and is recommend by default when you first set up your device. There is a chance that your iPhone is linked to the Find My iPhone service. Visit the iCloud website (link in Resources) and sign in with your Apple ID. Click on "Find My iPhone" and choose your iPhone from the "All Devices" drop-down menu. Click on "Notify Me When Found." This feature sends you an email alert after someone powers on your phone, giving you the current location of the device.

Find My iPhone also records your iPhone's last known location for up to 24 hours. A grey dot appears on the map after you log into Find My iPhone, indicating the last saved location. These coordinates can help you narrow down your iPhone's current location.

Android Device Manager (Android)

Android phones also have built-in software for tracking lost devices. There is a chance that you have enabled this feature during the setup of your Android phone. Visit the Device Manager website (link in Resources) and sign in with your Google account. Unlike iCloud, Device Manager does not display the last known location of the device. Check in periodically to see if the device is powered on. You can also trigger a passcode lock or full erasure to occur when the device is later powered on.