Recovering a Lost Cell Phone in 2013

I’ve lost some cell phones in my time (a hazard of traveling 100,000 miles a year).  It is no fun to lose anything – especially a smartphone.  Lost smartphones have lots of data, and are $500 or so to replace.  No fun.  In the past, I’ve spent hours calling people to find my lost phone, but today, I was able to lose, locate, track, and receive my lost phone in about 15 minutes total.  It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with technology, and my hat’s off to Microsoft, Verizon, and the Lucky Cab Company of Las Vegas (no, I’m not kidding) for making this post possible.


This week, I’m in Las Vegas covering the Consumer Electronics Show.  Today, I took a taxi from my hotel to the Venetian for a meeting.  Unfortunately, I was “under-caffeinated”, and accidentally left my new Windows Phone (HTC 8X for VZW) in a taxi.  [For those keeping score, a lost HTC 8X is a $550 problem].  Needless to say, I was a little… um… stressed.  I then remembered that I could locate my phone any time at, and located the my phone, which I could verify was in a taxi.


I locked the phone from, and made it make noise so the driver or subsequent passenger would find the device.  I also put a message on the phone that said “Lost Phone, Please call 865-202-4160  (My friend Sean’s phone) to arrange for return and payment of $100 reward.”

My friend, Sean, called the taxi company on his phone (I had a receipt with the company name and number), and over five minutes, I tracked the phone.  We refreshed the location about every two minutes, and passed the location of the phone to the dispatcher at the cab company.  The dispatcher tracked the position reports from the 400 taxis which worked for the taxi company we used, and called our driver on the radio.  The driver located the phone (large sigh of relief), and we continued to coordinate meeting the driver at the Venetian.

Our cab pulled up about 10 minutes later, and I was thrilled to see my phone again.  I gladly gave the driver a $100 tip for bringing my phone back.  I entered my lock code to enable my phone, and I went to my meeting (with five minutes to spare).  Overall, this was a great experience.  [Sometimes technology really saves your bacon.]

[Next time, I’ll explain how you can do this kind of tracking and (if necessary) remote wiping of data on the Android, Windows Phone, and iOS (Apple) operating systems.]