x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

All is not lost, even if your cellphone is

Losing a phone needn't be the end of the world, so long as you've prepared for the eventuality.

A smartphone can be a terrible thing to lose. Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg
A smartphone can be a terrible thing to lose. Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg

There was once a time when losing your battered old handset wasn't a big deal. OK, so you had to get another, but then it was simply a case of tapping in all those numbers again and trying to repeat your high score on Snake. With a raise of those knowing eyebrows, I think we'll all agree that things are somewhat different nowadays: smartphones are packed full of pretty much every piece of information available, including personal photos, banking details and nuclear launch codes. While there's no app to stop you being foolish enough to misplace your phone, there is plenty you can do right now to reduce the agony when it does happen, and even help you find it again.

1 Lock your phone with a security pin

Yes, it may be tedious every time you turn it on, but it's considerably less annoying than knowing someone has access to all your stuff, including that picture.

2 Disguise sensitive data

If your memory isn't all that and you've filled your phone with banking pins and passwords, it's worth hiding these amid other numbers and words so your average Joe Phone Robber doesn't know what they mean. And "definitely not HSBC pin" won't fool anyone.

3 Write down your 15-digit IMEI number

This is usually printed under your phone battery, but can be found by typing *#06# into your phone. iPhones have it stored in the Settings/General/About screen. This means that should your phone ever be found, or if someone claims it to be theirs, you've got the necessary digits to prove that they're a big (and possibly fat) liar.

4 Back up

Obvious, yes, but you still don't do it, do you? Such is the cleverness of most phones these days that even if you're forced to get a new one, you can easily plug it back into your computer and get it back to the cluttered state that it was in the last time you saved.

5 Install an app

Alongside downloadable stuff to make animal noises and the like, there's a growing number of apps to actually aid your lost phone troubles. iPhone users can go for Find My Phone, which enables you to go online and track it via its GPS radio, or even the paid-for GadgetTrak, which takes photos of whoever has found your phone and emails it back to you (it was mum all along!). On Android devices, there's Find My Droid and Lookout, which are similar but give you the opportunity to remotely wipe everything on the phone- including, sadly, your Angry Birds high scores.

6 Install another app

Less clever than the GPS services but potentially more handy is If Found, which lets you create a background wallpaper showing contact details. Fingers crossed it ends up in the hands of someone nice and honest.

7 And our top piece of advice?

Just be more careful. Sorry.