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How to Track a Cell Phone Location for Free

Elsa Updated on Apr 26, 2024 Filed to: Parent Control

Gone are the days when people relied on tech experts to track a cell phone's location. These days, anyone can do that, provided they have a device with a good internet connection. Generally, tracking a cell phone's location is not rocket science. You need the right app and the knowledge of how to use them.

track a cell phone's location

A phone location tracker app allows you to help recover a misplaced or stolen phone. Parents can also use it to ensure their kid's safety. This post contains an overview of apps and some other ways to track a cell phone's location. Read on to find out more!

Method 1. Top 9 Location Trackers to Track a Cell Phone Location for Free

1Find My Device (Android)

Find My Device is a Google app to track a cell phone's location for free. Most tracker apps powered by Google are designed for locating lost phones but can also track location with pinpoint accuracy. It works if the target Android device has logged into a Google account and enabled its Location permission. Provided a phone is online, and you can access its Google account, this app allows you to track it.

If you have another device which has logged into the same Google account, you just need to choose the device to see its current location.

Find My Device

Otherwise, please follow the below steps:

1. Download and install the app on another phone.

2. Input their Gmail account and log in to see their location.

3. As far as their phone is on and has Wi-Fi or mobile data, you will see where they are.

This app tracks phones via GPS, and you can use it to erase all the content on the device. You can even play a sound on the phone for nearby detection or lock it remotely.

2AirDroid Family Locator (Android)

AirDroid Family Locator holds the topmost position among the list of best location tracker apps. We suggest you communicate with your kid before using it. However, if you can't get permission from your kid, the program is still an excellent choice. Since you can choose to keep it stealthy.

It offers a 3-day free trial for new users and up to 14 free days (seven days more than other phone trackers) for a yearly license, and its subscription plan is also very cost-effective.

Key Features

  • Track a cell phone location in real-time and view the location history from the timeline.
  • Watch and listen to the cell phone's surroundings remotely.
  • Set safe zones and get alters when your child enters or leaves the geofences.
  • Get instant alerts for low power or more than 3 hours offline.

Besides, it has many features to ensure your kids' online safety. You can sync app notifications (including text messages) and detect inappropriate content to monitor cyberbullying. For emergency cases, the Screen Mirror feature can even help you view the live screen of your kid's phone. You can also schedule the screen time of the whole device or specific apps.

The app is easy to use; here is how:

Step 1. Download the accessible version of the app on your device. Install it and create your account.

Step 2. Download and install the AirDroid Kids on your kid's phone. Enter the pairing code to link their phone to yours and set up the necessary settings

Step 3. Tap the "Location icon" at the bottom middle of the screen, and you will see the real-time location of your kid's Android phone.

Location icon

Step 4. You can also tap the geofences icon to set safe zones and receive alerts of some specific places.

Geofences icon

Step 5. If you want to watch and hear what is happening around your child, tap the Remote Camera under remote operations.

tap Remote Camera

Tips: Even if the app is not fully free, you can enjoy all the features and decide whether it is right in the 3-day free trial.

3Where's My Droid (Android)

Where's My Droid is another free cell phone location tracker for Android devices. It provides various features that can assist in finding your phone, such as GPS tracking, remote locking, and even the ability to make your phone ring loudly, even if it's in silent mode. The app also offers additional security features like taking a picture with the front or rear camera if someone attempts to unlock your device. It is an engaging and easy-to-use app. You can remotely take pictures with the target phone from your phone.

Where's My Droid

Steps to Use Where's My Droid to Track a Cell Phone Location

1. Download and install the "Where's My Droid" app from the Google Play Store on the target Android device.

2. Open the app and follow the on-screen instructions to grant necessary permissions and set up the tracking features.

3. Set up the command account and enable the location service. Now, you can log into the commander account and click Locate to track the Android phone's location for free.

Locate on Where's My Droid

4Find My (iPhone)

Find My app is an official tracking app for iPad, iPhone, or iPod. If you use iOS 13 or later, you can easily share your location with other iOS devices. For iOS 9 to iOS 12, please use the Find My Friends instead. This app makes the device difficult to steal. It can also be used to track a person's location for free.

If you have another device that is signed in with the same Apple ID, simply select the iPhone from Devices to view its current location. Otherwise, you can share the target iPhone location with you in Find My app if you can access it.

Devices of Find My

To track a cell phone location with Find My location share:

  1. Open the app on the target iPhone and tap "Start Sharing Location" from the bottom. Tap the plus icon if the target phone shares its location with others.

    tap Start Sharing Location

  2. Select the plus sign to add you to the contact. Your information should include the email of your Apple ID.
  3. Tap your email in your profile. Then Tap "send" and choose "Share Indefinitely."

    tap Share Indefinitely

  4. Now, you can open the Find My app on yours to see the location of the target iPhone.

5Google Maps (Android & iPhone)

Google Maps is a GPS-based location tracker. It is built initially as a navigator for direction while driving or exploring new places. Its location tracking is real-time and precise due to GPS. It allows tracking more than one device as far as location sharing is in place.

To use Google Maps to track cell phone location for free, please follow the below steps:

  1. Open the app on the target cell phone and ensure it has signed into a Google account.
  2. Tap the Google profile option at the top right side.

    Google profile

  3. Select "Location sharing" from the menu.

    Location Sharing

  4. Tap "New share" in the lower right corner.

    tap New Share

  5. Choose the sharing duration "Until you turn this off." You may select Share with a link or not.

    choose sharing duration

  6. Tap your profile to share the location. If you are not in the listed contacts, swift to the right and tap more to add yourself to the option. Tap "Send," and you are done.

    add yourself and send

  7. Now, you can see the shared location on your Google Maps app.

    shared location

6Life360 Free Cell Phone Location Tracker (Android & iPhone)

Life360 app gives live locations and has interactive maps of cities and neighborhoods. It saves top and frequently visited places and has cloud storage for saving locations. You can also see the ongoing timelines of previous locations. It allows tracking, locating, and communicating with others. Other features of the app include Family Safety Network. It allows easy coordination of family get-togethers and helps them stay in touch with each other.

It will be free if the location-sharing service, two geofences and two-day location history are enough for you. You will need to upgrade to a premium plan with $14.99 monthly for more.

Steps to track a location with Life360:

  1. Download the app from Goolge Play or App Store. And then create an account to get started.
  2. Tap "create a new circle" and enter a name as your Circle name.

    creat circle

  3. Now, you will see an invite code on the screen.

    invite code

  4. Enable the two permissions to enjoy the full features.

    enable permissions

  5. Install the app on the target phone and register another account.
  6. Enter your invite code and tap Join to confirm.

    enter invite code and tap join

  7. Now, you can see the target phone's location.

    shared location on Life360

Note: Circle members cannot view each other's locations without the user's permission, as each user determines location availability. Circle members are not notified if a user turns off their location. However, they can still view this information within the app.

7Glympse Free Phone Location Tracker (Android & iPhone)

Glympse is a 4.8-rated app for tracking iPhone locations for free. It is fast, simple, and shares live location with the help of GPS tracking. You can share a location with more than one person. Aside from its tracking features, it also has privacy features.

Glympse was built with privacy, following the device's rules. It tracks with a dynamic map and requires no signup to view the location.

Glympse

Here are the steps for you:

1. Download the app and install it.

2. Select "request location" or "share location" from the option.

3. Choose the time you want your location shared.

4. Click "share."

5. If you request a location, check it on the map; it will pop up there.

8FollowMee GPS Location Tracker (Android & iPhone)

FollowMee GPS Location Tracker tracks location using GPS. Although it is a top-rated iPhone location tracker app, it runs on multiple platforms, including Android. It comes in handy for keeping tabs on friends, family members, and employees.

FollowMee GPS Location Tracker

You can track them through the app or browser to see their location. It has features like Geofencing, location sharing, GPS tracking, etc. It runs in the background, even when the app is closed. FollowMee can locate more than one iPhone simultaneously.

For a short period, you can enjoy this service at no cost when you sign up for any of its premium services. The premium offerings start at $9.99 per device annually.

Steps to track a location with FollowMee:

1. Create an account on the FollowMee website to get registered.

2. Install the app on the target phone.

3. Set up the app there with your details.

4. The app runs in stealth mode in the device background without user interaction.

5. The device location is recorded and stored on the FollowMee website.

6. You can view the location from your end on the website.

9Mobile Tracker Free

Mobile Tracker Free is best for tracking employees and family members. Not only can you see their location, but also you can monitor or manage their phone. With the app, you can record audio and take screenshots without them knowing.

Mobile Tracker Free

How to track a phone location with Mobile Tracker Free:

1. Download and install it on both devices.

2. Create an account with them.

3. Configure the setting.

Video Tutorial: Track a Cell Phone Location for Free with Location Tracker

Method 2. Track Phone Location for Free by Phone Number

You might be wondering: Is there an online location tracker where I just need to type in a phone number, and then it can find the location free of charge?

Well, there are many mobile number trackers and reverse phone lookup services. However, the accuracy may vary. For detailed information, most services require payment.

For some websites, after completing a few questionnaire surveys, viewing several ads, or paying about one dollar, you will see its location on a map. However, it is important to note that almost all of them only show the registered location or no information at all.

Besides, several websites or apps, such as Truecaller, Spokeo, and IPQualityScore, offer free reverse phone lookup services. They analyze public records and social media networks linked to the phone number, so this does not reflect the exact location. Some even generate a link in your account, which you can share via messenger, SMS, or email. You'll see the current location only when the target phone clicks the link.

Let's take the steps of using the website "Mobile Number Tracker" as an example:

1. Open the website on a browser.

Mobile Number Tracker

2. Type out the phone number you want to track.

3. Select the country of the number.

4. You can view it from the user space on the website.

Method 3. Track Phone Location for Free on Built-in Tracking Websites

Android and iOS devices offer built-in tracking features, making it easy to locate, ring, or wipe your device for free. Ensure that these features are enabled on your phone before it gets lost or stolen.

Google Find My Device Website (Android)

Find My Device is designed to locate lost phones and can track location accurately. To use it to track phone location for free, please make sure:

  • The phone has logged into a Google account.
  • The phone has enabled Location and Find My Device.
  • The phone is visible on Google Play and online.
  • You can sign in the Google account.

Then you can follow the below steps to track a phone location:

  1. You can directly visit the website of Find My Device in a browser: www.google.com/android/find.
    Tips: Find your phone is another website to access the Find My Device platform, whose website is myaccount.google.com/intro/find-your-phone.
  2. If the browser didn't log into the Google account of the target phone, enter the email and click Next. For target phones with multiple user profiles, please sign in with a Google Account associated with the main or personal profile.

    log into Google account

  3. Now, you will see the Find My Device platform with a map on the right. Suppose there is more than one device connected to the account; choose the phone you need to track.

    choose the device

  4. As far as their phone is on and has Wi-Fi or mobile data, you will see where they are.

    see the location on Find My Device

This app tracks phones via GPS, and you can play a sound on the phone for nearby detection or lock it remotely. You can even use it to erase all the content on the device.

find,lock, erase phone

Samsung SmartThings Find

Samsung SmartThings Find is a feature developed by Samsung Electronics that helps you locate and manage your Samsung Galaxy devices, such as smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and earbuds. It is similar to Find My Device. Before using it to trace mobile location, please ensure:

  • The phone has logged into a Samsung account.
  • The phone has enabled Location and Find My Mobile.
  • The phone is online.
  • You can sign in to the SmartThings account.

To track phone location for free using Samsung SmartThings Find, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure that the Samsung phone you want to track has the SmartThings Find feature enabled. You can check this by going to Settings > Biometrics and Security > Find My Mobile, and then enable SmartThings Find.

    Samsung SmartThings Find setting

  2. Open a browser and navigate to the website findmymobile.samsung.com. Sign in with the Samsung account associated with the phone you want to track.

    sign in Find My Mobile

  3. Select the phone from the menu on the left side of the screen. If the phone is located, it's shown with a dashboard on the map, displaying its status and the functions of remote controls. You can also click track location to get an updated location every 15 minutes.

    select phone and track location

  4. You can also use additional features like "Ring" to make the phone ring loudly, even if it's on silent mode, or "Notify when found" to receive a notification when the phone is detected.

Please note that for SmartThings Find to work, the phone must have an active internet connection, location services enabled, and be within a Wi-Fi or cellular network range.

Apple Find My Website

The Find My on iPhone is a built-in feature that helps you locate your device for free if it's lost or stolen. This feature makes the device difficult to steal. It can also be used to track an iPhone's location for free if you are sure that:

  • The phone has logged into an iCloud account.
  • The phone has enabled Location and Find My iPhone.
  • The phone is online.
  • You can sign in to the iCloud account.

You may go to "Settings," tap on your name at the top, then select "Find My" to have a check.

ensure Find My iPhone is on

If you know the iCloud account and its password logged on the target iPhone, you can track its location with the below steps.

Track iPhone Location with Find My Website

To use Find My to track your lost phone, follow these steps:

  1. Open a web browser on any device and go to the iCloud website (www.icloud.com/find).
  2. Sign in to the iCloud account with the Apple ID and password. Ensure you use the same Apple ID associated with the target phone.

    sign in iCloud

  3. Click the "Find iPhone" icon once logged in. iCloud will attempt to locate your lost iPhone. If successful, you will see the location on a map.

    see the location of iPhone

  4. You can use the options provided to play a sound on your iPhone, put it in Lost Mode, or erase its data remotely. Choose the appropriate action based on your situation.

In addition to locating your device, Find My also allows you to lock your iPhone remotely, play a sound to help locate it, display a message on the lock screen, and even erase all your data to protect your personal information. It's a useful tool to ensure the safety and security of your iPhone.

Notes: The built-in features are totally free to track a phone's location. However, you may be unable to log into the account since getting the 2-Step Verification code is hard.

Method 4. Track a Phone Location for Free with Cell Phone Carrier Service

Cell phone carriers can track the location of a phone through various methods. However, it is important to note that tracking a phone requires proper authorization, such as a court order or the owner's consent.

Many cell phone carriers also offer location-tracking services with a few days free trial for their customers, such as Verizon Smart Family, T-Mobile FamilyWhere, AT&T Secure Family App, and Sprint Safe & Found. These features might only be accessible with certain plans or gadgets, so it's a good idea to confirm their availability and suitability with your service provider.

T-Mobile users can also use Lookout.com to track a cell phone location for free while Verizon has the website myverizon.com.

location tracker via cell phone carrier

Method 5. Track Mobile Location for Free via the Location Sharing Feature of Social Apps

Many social media apps allow users to share live locations for free, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Snapchat, Line, etc. If your family members or friends would like to share their location, tracking their cell phone location for free will be easy. This option is available for all users but must be enabled by default.

Let's take WhatsApp as an example. If you need to know your kids' live location, please tell them to follow the below steps:

1. Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services, and enable the permission.

2. Tap on the attachment icon on the bottom right corner of the screen in your chat box.

3. Select "Location" from the six options.

4. Tap on "Share live location" and select the duration.

share location WhatsApp

FAQs about Track a Phone Location

Now that you know five easy ways to locate a phone for free, you may wonder why we don't recommend other ways like with phone number; let's discuss it in detail.

1Is There Completely Free Cell Phone Location Tracking?

Yes, there are completely free ways to track a cell phone's location. Some examples are Find My Device, Samsung SmartThings Find, Find My, Google Maps, etc. You can use these ways to locate a lost phone free of charge. Many third-party family locator apps like AirDroid offer free trials with more features such as watching and listening to phone surroundings.

2Is It Possible to Track a Phone without Installing Any App?

Yes, if you have an iPhone or an Android device, you can use the built-in tracking features of Apple, Google, or Samsung. You can also get your service provider to do that or do it via websites that provide such services.

Things to Consider before Tracking Phone Location

It's important to use location tracking services responsibly and ethically.

Consent & Privacy: It's crucial to have the phone owner's consent before tracking. Unauthorized tracking is illegal and unethical. Although parents can track their children's phones to ensure their safety, it will be a better practice to enlighten them about the tracking process.

Accuracy: The accuracy of the location tracking depends on the method used. GPS-based methods are generally more accurate than those based on cellular network data or Wi-Fi signals. A location tracker like AirDroid Family Locator, which deploys all location tracking technologies, will be more accurate.

track a phone

Security Risks: The tracking app or service should be secure to prevent unauthorized access to location data. Opt for trustworthy and dependable applications or services that precede data privacy and possess transparent privacy policies. This strategy will safeguard your data as well as the data of the individual being monitored.

Battery & Data Usage: Location tracker apps may use a considerable amount of data, which could lead to additional charges depending on the user's data plan. It may also consume more battery power, so remind your kids to fully charge their mobile devices before hanging out.

How Does Mobile Location Tracking Work

In this section, we will show you some of the technologies behind location tracking. We have highlighted four of them that we will be discussing.

GPS

GPS uses orbital satellites to send signals to the GPS receiver in the phone. This signal is crosschecked with about four other satellites to ascertain your phone's location. The accuracy of the location depends on the strength of the signal received by the GPS. Hence, obstructions like dish installation, heavy rains, and snow should be avoided for maximum strength and accurate location tracking.

Cell Tower Triangulation

Cell Towers, or base stations, are physical locations where antennas and electronic communication equipment are placed. This communication lets the network know which cell tower your device is connected to and, thus, roughly where you are.
Its location tracking accuracy is not as high as other methods like GPS, especially in rural areas where cell towers are spread out. However, it is still a useful method for providing a general idea of a device's location, and it works even when GPS is turned off.

Wi-Fi Position

Wi-Fi Positioning System (WPS) uses nearby hotspots and wireless access points to locate a device. This system can be found in routers, computers, phones, and other gadgets. This method may not be as accurate as GPS, but it can provide a general idea of the phone's location.

Conclusion

There are different ways to track a cell phone's location for free. The most common is using apps. Fortunately, there are lots of free cell phone location trackers. Some specialize in tracking, while some double as parental control apps.

I believe such apps are the best for location tracking due to stealth. Why not download a family locator to have a try today?

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Elsa
Elsa
Elsa has worked on a number of iOS & Android solutions, she can always find her way around almost any application. She is an accomplished, skilled and versatile writer with more than 7 years of technical article writing experience.
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