Finding a lost cell phone

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Last updated April 12, 2019

David Pogue, the technology columnist for the New York Times, lost his iPhone while traveling on an Amtrak train a day or two ago but was able to recover it when police discovered it in the backyard of a suburban house in Maryland.  Pogue was able to make use of the application known as Find My iPhone, which uses GPS signaling to enable users to look up the location of their iPhone via a computer or some other device.  He was then able to tweet that location to his 1.4 million followers on Twitter, who turned the search for Pogue’s stolen cell phone into a viral phenomenon.

For those of us who for some reason do not have more than a million followers on Twitter, however, are there ways for us to recover a stolen or lost cell phone?  The good news is that the answer to that question is yes, although the great majority of solutions need us to have taken steps ahead of time.  A good first step is having some kind of cell phone recovery application, such as Find My iPhone, installed.  While such an application will not work if the battery is dead or the phone is turned off, if it is powered on it will tell you where it is.

If the phone is lost but you are certain it is somewhere within earshot, such an app also allows you to make the phone emit a loud noise for several minutes.  If you are resigned to having lost it forever, the app can let you remotely erase all data to protect your privacy.