Nobody wants to contemplate the idea of their phone being stolen, but the truth is, it could happen to anyone. As such, it is always a good idea to have an app that protects you from theft on your device.
Google offers some built-in security options for Android, including an option called Find My Device that can track where your phone is if it goes missing, but there are also some great third-party options available.
Where phone theft was the rage in the moderator community a few years ago, but thanks to advances and improvements in security against smartphone theft, such heinous acts have declined in recent years. Android has plenty of options to make sure your data is safe in the event that your phone is lost and that it is essentially worthless to anyone who might have stolen it. (With features like remote camera control, it may even help catch criminals!)
Let’s have a look at the best anti-theft apps for Android.
1. Where’s My Droid
Where’s My Droid is an anti-theft app that has grown in popularity in the market, offering a robust feature set that seems to be growing year on year. In addition to the usual phone finder functions such as GPS and phone calls, it also has a lot of other perks.
Where’s My Droid offers a free version and a paid plan. In the free version, you can locate the device via GPS, ring, reset the passcode, wipe the SD card data, perform a factory reset, and get an alert when someone changes the SIM card.
The Premium plan (called Elite) adds more features like remote photo capture, taking a photo when someone tries and fails to unlock the phone, geo-fencing, passive location tracking, uninstall prevention, and multi-device support.
The Elite plan costs $1 per month or $9 per year.
Download: Where’s My Droid (Free, subscription available)
2. Find My Device
Find My Device is Google’s anti-theft app, and it’s one of the best built-in Android security options. Which allows you to remotely lock your phone, log out of your device, and erase its content. You can also see where your phone is on a map and connect to it via the companion app.
If you lock your phone remotely, you can write a message on the lock screen that will be displayed on your device permanently until you disable it.
Find My Device is enabled by default, but it’s wise to check that you haven’t accidentally turned it off. To check Find My Device status, go to Settings -> Google -> Security and tap on Find My Device. Move the toggle switch at the top of the window to the On position if the feature is not active.
There are two ways to access Find My Device features – via the Find My Device web app or smartphone app.
Download: Find My Device (Free)
Cerberus is a well-established choice as the leading third-party anti-theft app for Android. It has a rich feature set that its competitors struggle to live up to.
The three main ways Cerberus protects your device are remote control via a web portal, remote control via text messages, and automatic alerts.
The app can locate and track your phone, lock your device, trigger an alarm on your phone, download call logs, and clear both internal and external memory.
Cerberus will also help ensure that anyone who steals your phone will end up in trouble with the law. It can secretly take photos and record videos for anyone with your device, then upload them to the cloud for you to see. You can even record audio from your phone’s microphone.
The app also supports automatic actions. For example, you can have the phone lock itself if the SIM card is changed, or receive a photo immediately if someone enters the wrong PIN.
Because of the way the app works, Google doesn’t allow it in the Play Store. But don’t worry, the app is legit. Here’s how Cerberus explained the decision Google took against him:
Google removed Cerberus Anti-theft app from Play Store with this explanation”Apps that cause users to download or install apps from unknown sources outside Google Play“. In order to give users an option to get comprehensive protection, a message has been displayed on the Play Store app informing the user that they can install the full-featured app as an update from our official website. Apparently, even this is not allowed by Google, so they have removed Anti-theft from the Play Store … At this point, we will not bother to appeal the decision, as there is no way to publish a satisfactory application in terms of functionality on the Play Store.
So, to use Cerberus, you will need to download the APK file directly from the official website, and then sideload the app on your Android device.
You can enjoy a free trial for seven days. Plans start at $5 per month.
Download: Cerberus (Free trial, subscription required)
The Lookout feature is exclusively available for mobile devices, and it has only gotten better over the years. The new update gave the app the ability to receive an email when your phone is turned off, change the SIM card, and other actions a thief might take after your phone is stolen. Lookout will even try to take a picture of the offender. Some of these features are free, but most of them require a premium subscription.
Prey is another anti-theft cell phone tracker, but it doubles as a multi-platform solution that can track phones, laptops, tablets, and all sorts of other devices.
There is a free and premium version. The free version allows you to track up to three devices, but it limits you to one security zone.
The premium version — which costs $5 a month — adds geofencing, control zone actions, remote screen locking, message alerts, geolocation history, GPS tracking support, Wi-Fi triangulation, and GeoIP.
If you have the premium plan, you can also wipe data and recover files remotely.
Download: Prey (Free, Pro version available)
6. McAfee Mobile Security
McAfee is best known for its antivirus apps, but the company’s Android app also includes anti-theft features, meaning it’s a one-stop shop for all your security needs.
Specific anti-theft features include: device lock, thief photography, and app uninstall protection. If someone enters the wrong PIN three times, the phone will lock itself until you enter the master password, and take a picture of the offender.
McAfee Mobile Security also has a Find My Phone feature. You can see your phone on a map, sound a remote alert, and get step-by-step geolocation tracking.
The application is available for free. An annual plan with additional features is available for $30 per year.
Download: McAfee Mobile Security (Free, pro version available)
CrookCatcher is designed to help you recover your phone, but also gives you the possibility to catch the thief in action in real time.
When someone tries to unlock your phone with the wrong code, it will take a picture of it and immediately email it to you. The email will contain the photo, GPS coordinates, estimated street address, and a map. You can edit the number of invalid entries allowed before taking the photo and sending the email.
One of the biggest differences between CrookCatcher and the other apps on our list is the lower battery drain. The application runs only when the code is entered incorrectly; It does not need to run in the background permanently.
CrookCatcher is available for free but is ad-supported.
Download: CrookCatcher (Free)
8. Anti-Theft Alarm
At the other end of the complexity scale is the Anti-Theft Alarm. It is a deterrent to theft. It does not have post-theft features such as phone locating and remote wiping.
As the name suggests, the app will sound a loud alarm in certain circumstances. For example, you can trigger the ring when someone removes or steals your phone while it’s charging, if someone moves your phone from where you left it, if you drop your phone, or if someone changes your SIM card. You can also activate the alarm remotely if you realize that someone has stolen it.
The alert can sound even if your device is in silent mode. Once activated, the noise will not stop without a password; Changing the battery or SIM card will not have any effect.
Download: Anti-Theft Alarm (Free)
Applications of telecom companies and manufacturers
Most network carriers offer an anti-theft app.
The notable downside to carrier apps is the cost – you’ll usually notice a small additional fee on your bill each month. On the plus side, you will be able to contact your carrier and force them to help you in case a criminal steals your device.
Many manufacturers also offer an equivalent anti-theft app. Often built into OEM interfaces; Both Samsung and Motorola devices have the advantage. Unlike the versions provided by carriers, the manufacturer’s versions are free to use.
Other ways to protect your Android device
Anti-theft apps are only one part of keeping your Android device secure.
You also need to make sure that the apps you have installed respect your privacy, that all firmware and operating system updates are installed, and that all apps on your device that contain sensitive material are password protected.
And once you have set up the anti-theft app, you need to make sure that you can turn it on if you forget your passcode.