How to track a cell phone location without GPS?

Find My Phone
How to track a cell phone location without GPS?

It’s no big secret that GPS technology can be used to identify the location of an individual or an object. This powerful technology greatly benefits both military use and civilian use. However, there always exists the possiblity of GPS turned off. Moreover, some older models do not come with GPS chip. If you’re wondering how to track a cell phone location without GPS, you’ve come to the right place. Here we’ll show how your smartphone can be tracked even when your GPS and location service are disabled.

Why a cell phone can be traced with GPS turned off?

Most cell phones come with global positioning system that can identify your precise location and map routes to your destination. In case GPS service is disabled, you will be not able to track real-time cell phone location. However, our smart devices leave digital footprints all over the internet in which can be traced back to your phone. These digital footprints identify you in a specific time and location. It can be in many forms such as cookies and also input and output for your smartphone sensors.

Apart from GPS chip, your phone also have other sensors like the accelerometers that can be used to track your body movement for fitness and even gaming. Other sensors such as barometer, magnetometer and gyroscope have its use and function in your smartphone. With technology evolved, these sensors become more advanced and accurate. In combination of these sensors and an installed app, the phone location can be easily traced without the need of GPS.

How to track a cell phone location without GPS?

Even without GPS turned on, you still can track a lost or stolen phone. That is because smartphone technology has evolved and become more integrated into our daily activities. You can either take advantage of IMEI number or location data.

Resort to network operator

If you do lose your cell phone and the GPS function is disabled, you can request assistance from a network service provider. Most cell phones can provide some geographical capabilities by triangulating their position between cell phone towers. This can be done based on the relative strength of the signal between the phone and the towers. By knowing which signal emits the strongest and lowest between your smartphone and the cell tower, the network provider can pinpoint the location. Some network operators such as Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile also offer family locator service that allow you to track the location of another phone on your family plan.

Track a phone using IMEI number

Another way to track a cell phone location without GPS is report the phone’s IMEI number to the authorities. Some countries do have a database of lost or stolen phones and whenever the police finds a stolen phone, it can cross-check the phone with the database. You can find out a phone’s IMEI number by dialing *#06# on the phone, regardless of the model.

You’re also given option to install a IMEI tracker – Find My Device and track the phone using IMEI number for free. You can download and install the app from Google Play Store, then grant the permission for access to the application. You will be asked to enter the phone number of trusted family member or friends. If your phone gets lost or stolen and a new SIM card is inserted in your phone, then SMS notifications will be sent automatically to those trusted family members that include IMEI number and phone location.

With IMEI number, you can track a cell phone location easily. The exact location will be indicated on the screen. You also can send “SMS” or command, “get the lost phone” from any other devices to the device that is lost. This application will acknowledge it and send the particular location as a reply.

Browser or app cookies

If you spend a lot of time online, you can notice request from the browser to identify your current location. This includes the airline’s website or travel website where they require you to specify the location of your current place. Once you grant the location permission, the browser will keep your location in their record. Some applications such as Waze and WhatsApp require your location each time you want to use the app. Even if the GPS on your smartphone is turned off, the app will not be able to track the phone location in real-time. However, the browser or app cookies does have your digital footprints from the last time you use the app or visit the webiste.

How to prevent your phone from being tracked?

If you want to prevent someone from tracking your cell phone, there are some steps you can take. The easiest way to limit the ability of location tracking is to limit the apps on your phone that are allowed to access your location. Popular map and ride-sharing apps need your location to work properly, but shouldn’t have free reign to track your every movement. You can change the location services from always-on to only allowing access while the app is open and in use. Alternatively, you can visit browser settings to control pop-ups and restrict cross-site tracking.

Final thoughts

There are chances that GPS on your smartphone has been turned off and you won’t be able to track a cell phone in real-time. In such case, you can contact network service provider, use IMEI number tracker or location history. No technical skill or professional knowledge is required.

Carl L. Hirsch is a writer, editor, and journalist. She has been a staff writer in various US-based periodicals for five years. But then she decided to dedicate her life to traveling and freelance writing.

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