Can Phone be tracked while off? All you should know

Maybe they stole your phone and you have heard a lot that you can track your phone but what if the thief turned your phone off? Can phone be tracked while off?

Well i did a pretty good research and in this post I’m going to tell you everything.

Tracking a turned off phone is considered impossible and rightly so, when you turn off your phone, it will stop communicating with nearby cell Towers and can be traced only to the location it was in when it was power down, GPS will be off no help as it consistently needs cellular and or internet access to gather the location details.

But according to Washington Post, NSA is capable of tracking cell phones even when they are turned off, and this isn’t something new as per the report, NSA has been using this technique dupped “the find”, ever since September 2004.

This technique was used in Iraq and it help identify thousands of new target including members of a burgeoning al-Qaeda-Sponsored insurgency in Iraq.

According to a special operation officer who was interviewed by Washington post, they asked him how can NSA track turn off phone but the Washington Post doesn’t throw light on this but the only way NSA can track a switch off phone must be by infecting the handset with Trojans that will force the handset to continue emitting a signal even if the phone is in standby mode unless the battery is removed.

When a battery is removed, the compromise handset will not have a power source to emit the  signals and hence would fail to share its location details.

But infecting the phones to track its location isn’t something new, back in 2006, CNET had reported how FBI had deployed Spyware  to infect suspects mobile phones and record data even when they are turned off.

It’s quite plausible that NSA used similar technique in Iraq, albeit on a larger scale.


Typically, devices locations are calculated by triangulating between cell Towers, using GPS or through the internet.

If your phone is on and have no cellular service, it is still possible to locate it through the use of tracking software offered by Google, Apple or a third party.

The accuracy however depends on the software and how good the GPS connection is if you do have a Wi-Fi connection.

Can you track a phone when it is on airplane mode

From the phone side:

If the phone GPS is off and the phone is not in airplane mode and there is no other method for location determination such as receiving tower lat or long data in CDMA, the phone does not know where it is.

But it could transmit some location information from an app for example that makes a rough estimate of some sort.

If the phone is in airplane mode regardless of the GPs of other location determination method setting, it acts like it is powered off, cannot communicate with the cellular system and cannot transmit the location even if it knows where it is, from  GPS Fix or other method.

From the cellular network side:

If the GPS is off but the phone is not in an airplane mode, the cellular system sees the phone registered, and could use radio triangulation from nearby towers to determine its location.
Generally to lesser accuracy than GPS of course.

If the phone is in an airplane mode, (regardless of GPS or other location determination method setting) it acts like it is powered off, cannot communicate with cellular system and cannot be located by the cellular system.

They key point is airplane mode, as mentioned by others, GPS is a simple receiver, does not transmit and does not play any role in location from the network side.

My response here assumes normal operation, intelligent agencies and law enforcement may have special ways to get around these limitations if the phone is powered on.

And if you believe the conspiracy theories or the movies, even when it is powered off.


The is answer is yes but it not advisable and thus could lead to serious prosecution.

The only group of people that can be able to do that are employees of mobile network operators with a special permission.

The only act on order from law enforcement, when it comes with a proper court order.

So no, you cannot and for private tracing, you would need access to the phone to store a tracing app there.

And then hopefully with the permission of the owner or with a legal mandate to overrule the owner(like parents for children).

Everything else is illegal and would be prosecuted.

How to track an active phone

So mobile phones are more or less comfortable over the way we live our lives.

Nothing else in the past few years, have taken over the way we sleep, eat, walk, read, writes, socialize, exercise, and walk the way in which mobile phone have.

So this very much is the reason why when we lose our phones, we usually end up looking very disoriented, and in some cases depressed.

We lose not just our phones, but we also lose pictures, videos, documents, and memories in general.

But if your phone ever gets stolen, consider this video, your step by step guide which teaches you how you can recover it, the number one:

How to track a stolen iPhone.

So if you own an iOS device, either an iPhone or an iPad, I have good news for you.

The good news is that Apple has already taken into consideration instances of lost iOS devices and as such created a feature on them called the “Find My iPhone” which you could find at

With the help of this feature and as long as your iCloud account is active, you can log on to the web version of this app to track the exact location of your phone, so you know where to look for it.

Not just that, you could also use this feature to remotely erase all the data you have on your phone if you suspect you’ll never get it back.

So another important feature of the “Find My iPhone” application is the ability to remotely lock your device.

And in this case, whoever has your phone will be unable to access your phone.
Instead, he or she would find a notification which says the phone has been lost along with the emergency phone number.

how to track Android device.

So if you own an Android phone or tablet, and it goes missing, I also have good news for you.

The good news is that just like Apple, Google also created a solution.

This solution is called find my device and it can be found in the more recently released Android devices.

Find this online you have to go to

So the first thing you should do is to quickly block your phone because the person who found or stole your phone can log out of your Google accounts and once he or she does this, you won’t be able to do anything else.

You can also remotely sound of an alarm or erase all the data.

how to track a phone with emei

So imei stands for international Mobile Equipment identity number and since it is a 15 digit code which is unique to every mobile device, so you can find your IMEI code on the package of your phone, at the back of your phone or on its battery, or you could simply dial *#06# and it will automatically appear on any os, what you can do is to simply write this down in case your phone ever gets lost.

Can you track a phone using apps

Yes you can, here are two good apps for that:

1. FamiSafe Location Tracking

FamiSafe provides a reliable and user-friendly way to track an Android or iOS device.

While you can get the real-time location of an Android, the iOS version provides the location history of the device.

It also has a geofencing feature to get instant notifications for their check-ins and check-outs. All of this makes FamiSafe the best location app out there.

2. Family Locator GPS Tracker

Another location tracker app that you can use is Family Locator. It is developed by Life 360 and works on both Android and iOS devices.

Users can easily track each other with this share location app.
It is a smart way to track your family’s real-time location
It supports cross-platform location sharing
Users can turn off location sharing whenever they want
Supported by Android and iOS devices
In-app messaging feature
Price: Premium plan costs $4.99

3. Glympse

If you are looking for a smart and user-friendly way to share location with your friends, family, and colleagues, then you should try Glympse. This best tracking app supports a cross-platform location sharing feature.
Real-time location tracking of a device
Geofencing features are supported
In-app navigation and messaging features
Users can manually turn on/off the location tracker app
Works on Android and iOS devices
Price: Free

4. Find my Friends

Find my Friends is the official app developed by Apple to make it easier for users to share location with each other. This location tracker app works with all the major iOS devices.
iPhone users can easily track their friends and family through their device
Users can stop sharing location anytime they want
Beforehand, users need to accept the location sharing request
Precise and real-time location is provided
Only works with iOS devices
Price: Free

5. Google Maps

Google Maps has also introduced a dedicated feature to share location with our contacts. Being the best location app, it can now help us track our friends on a real-time basis. The service is extremely easy to use and is a part of the Google Map interface.
You can select the users to share location and the duration as well.
Precise and real-time location sharing is provided
Supported by leading iOS and Android devices
It also maintains a timeline of your past locations

6. GPS Phone Tracker

Another location tracker app that you can try is GPS Phone Tracker. It is a social location tracker app that makes it easier for friends and family to keep a track of each other’s whereabouts.
Track the real-time locations of your friends and family in one place
Enable geofencing features for any area
The app will keep running in the background
Compatible with Android devices (Android 4.4 and up)
Price: Free with in-app purchases

7. Family GPS Tracker

If you want to keep a track of your kid’s whereabouts, then you try this share location app. It supports a cross-platform location sharing between Android and iOS devices
Extensive features for child location tracking
SOS and emergency alerts
Real-time tracking with geofencing features
Battery report and location history
Compatible with iOS and Android devices
Price: Plans start from $3.99

8. famy – Family Locator

This is a user-friendly family location tracking app that is also known as the best tracking app for parents. You can easily track your kids and even chat with them through its native interface.
Extremely user-friendly and easy to use
Real-time device tracking with geofencing features
Download the location history of the device
In-app chat and emergency support
Works on devices running on iOS 7.0 and later versions
Price: Plans start from $4.99

9. Find my Kids

As the name suggests, this best tracking app is used to locate the whereabouts of kids by parents. You can also know their past locations by accessing the location history.
Real-time location tracking of a device
Extensive location history can be extracted
Emergency SOS and messaging feature
Parents and poke their kids by sending alerts
Compatible with Android and iOS devices
Price: $7.49 a month9. Find my Kids
As the name suggests, this best tracking app is used to locate the whereabouts of kids by parents. You can also know their past locations by accessing the location history.
Real-time location tracking of a device
Extensive location history can be extracted
Emergency SOS and messaging feature
Parents and poke their kids by sending alerts
Compatible with Android and iOS devices
Price: $7.49 a month