Tracking a mobile phone can help recover a lost or stolen device. It can also help the user find his location when travelling or keep track of a family member or loved one. A phone owner can track a mobile phone using a global positioning satellite, or GPS, chip. The chips are already installed in many newer phones and can be bought and installed in older phones. A variety of services are available for tracking the phone, and many mobile phone companies offer GPS locating in-house.
Obtain a mobile phone with a GPS chip. Most newer phones, including the BlackBerry, Motorola iDEN, Boost Mobile, Windows Mobile and many others, already contain GPS chips. Some phones, especially older phones, do not have the chips installed. Find out from the manufacturer if the phone will take a GPS chip. If so, the chips can be bought at phone shops, from the manufacturer or over the Internet. Install according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Check with the phone service company to determine if its network has GPS capability. Most larger networks provide the service.
Find a location-based service, such as AccuTracking or uLocate.com, which often works with the phone service companies. Independent services such as Mologogo and others are also available. These services may charge small or moderate fees for GPS tracking.
Use the computer to go to the location-based service provider's website. Log in and follow instructions to subscribe and to download its software to the computer. Use the computer-phone cable to connect the phone to be tracked to the computer. Follow the instructions to load the GPS-tracking software from the computer into the phone, and, if necessary, to activate it using the phone's menu.
Give the phone to the user and use the computer to log onto the location-based service provider's tracking website. Depending on the service, it can show the phone's location on a Google or MapQuest grid. Some services can also tell at what speed the phone is travelling, how long it has been in one position and even the altitude. Some services will send a text message to another mobile phone if the tracked phone leaves a predetermined area. If the tracker has a phone with wireless Internet access, she may be able to use that instead of a PC to track the phone.
The phone must be turned on for the tracking service to work. If the owner, such as a parent, does not want the child or user to know he is being tracked, hold on to the phone after downloading the location-based service provider's GPS software. The tracking service often sends an initial text to the mobile phone saying it is now subject to GPS tracking. Erase the text before turning over the phone to the user. GPS tracking uses additional battery power and may require more frequent phone recharging.