• Quick algorithm
  • Phone location tracking – what are the options?
  • Tracking WiFi and mobile networks
  • Tracking GPS coordinates
  • Finding subscriber’s location by means of special functions of operator
  • Self Detection
  • Tracking via Base Station Polling

Options to track cell phone location

The ability to track personal geolocation by phone via cellular towers has always been relevant. And there are a variety of reasons for this. Caring parents want to know where their child is, and suspicious and jealous spouses, for example, do not mind to trace where the other half spend their time. There are also less plausible motives. However, the point doesn’t change – many people are still wondering how to find out the location of the phone, and preferably without the knowledge of its owner. And there are such ways. Moreover, every year their arsenal is only increasing. Therefore, everyone will surely find a suitable option for themselves.

A quick algorithm to track cell phone location

  • Go to the gallery of applications and find there Google Maps.
  • Click to open the application.
  • In the bottom right corner, click on the scope.
  • Use the sight icon.

The location is shown with a bold blue dot. The scale is adjusted by double tap. Fingering is to zoom in on the area, convergence is to zoom out. Many apps ask for the user’s location.

You can find out more about this in Google Settings.

Google Settings.

By opening the Location sub-item, you can learn a lot about yourself.

Location Settings to track cell phone location

This is a list of geolocation apps, but there’s another interesting option at the bottom – Location History. It opens up a map with a recent route. You can fill in the node points with comments, provide photos. If necessary, the tracking is turned on (for themselves). So that Google built for us a chronology of movements.

Location timeline.

In the top right menu, above the map and notepad, selecting “settings” allows you to manage your location. Everything relevant to the topic is centralized here. You can prohibit marking places on the photo, send your current coordinates, delete history, etc.

Settings in Personal Data

There is a Mode option at the top of the Locations menu. Clicking it opens a window for setting accuracy.

Location Mode

From the above information, we can conclude that the most power consumed by the phone is for receiving satellite signals. This is probably due to the fact that the phone has no signal decoding software and the packets are constantly transmitted to the base stations and then to the GPS servers. Because of the intense transmission, the battery quickly runs down. This is not surprising, for accurate navigation create electronic models, which themselves are already larger than a smartphone.
Tracking the location of the phone – what are the options?

As already mentioned, there are a lot of different ways in our time. Among the most simple and effective at the moment are the following:

  • Tracking the signal from the towers of the operator and WiFi access points;
  • Detecting coordinates using GPS;
  • Analysis of outgoing IP traffic.

Tracking WiFi and mobile networks

This technique can be considered a classic and has been used for quite some time. Its essence is that the base stations are constantly broadcasting data about all their “neighbors”, and each phone has a function that forces the device to constantly scan the network and connect to the towers with the strongest and most consistent signal. And the moment the cell phone changes towers, its presence is registered in the network. In this case, to calculate the location of the phone, you do not even need to wait for its owner to start talking – the tracking is done all the time.

However, this method has its limitations – its accuracy varies from a few tens to several hundred meters. Therefore, in densely populated “sleeping bags” to calculate the exact location of the person with the phone will be problematic. There is another disadvantage – it is almost inaccessible to ordinary people, and it can only be used by law enforcement officials or employees of the mobile operator, and even then at your own risk.

How exactly is the location determined?

A phase-modulated signal from two towers comes to the phone, and the operator collects information. The phase difference shows the distance, and since each antenna covers 60 or 120 degrees azimuth, there is no doubt about whether the answer is really right. Obviously, any indication is now enough to tell which one the subscriber is in. An indication may be the name of the WiFi network nearby. In practice, this is not so easy because the signal is over-reflected. Accuracy can fall to within a few kilometers (for 4G – LTE it reaches 50 meters). That’s why satellite information is needed.

Tracking GPS coordinates

This method has become widespread in recent years due to the mass appearance of smartphones with a built in GPS receiver on the market. By calculating the phase difference of signals and by determining the position of satellites almanac, the software is able to predict the coordinates accurately enough. It can be considered ideal for anyone who is interested in how to find out the location of the phone without much fuss. Any modern smartphone can be turned into a beacon, you only need to access the device for a few minutes and install special software on it.

Accuracy from GPS transmitters

The accuracy of this method is very high, but it is not without limitations. In our time, however, still not observed quite an overwhelming dominance of smartphones with GPS location transmitters, and increased battery consumption can alert the person under surveillance. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find a more acceptable option for ordinary hobbyists.

Satellite positioning was originally used by the military. Even today they do not open access to an encrypted precise channel with accuracy of units of centimeters. Users are left with crumbs, but even that is enough to keep everyone happy. What is three to five meters for the average person? He does not need to aim a bomb or a missile accurately to hit a target.

The satellite signal is complex, and the data is transmitted in packets. Most likely, the phone doesn’t even try to decode it, it just retransmits it to the towers.

Determining the location of the subscriber with the help of special functions of the operator

We can say at once that this method is hardly suitable for fans of anonymous surveillance and track cell phone location. Initially, this method was positioned by telecom operators as an extended function of parental control, and to this day it copes with this task best.

That is why it is most often used by parents, who want to monitor the movement of their child, or by the relatives of people who suffer from specific diseases (memory loss, disorientation in space, etc.). At the moment this functionality is supported by most of the mobile communication operators, and the cost of its use is purely symbolic.


The action of some games is developed on the ground. Just as it is now fashionable to catch pokemon. The user has a real map in the application, where he marks his location in order to pass the next quest. This option is on Google Maps, and it allows you to manually type in a location. It directly contradicts the theme of the title, though.

Tracking by polling base stations

A very interesting method that became widespread at a time when the market was flooded with mobile gadgets and cellular operators significantly reduced the prices of wireless 3G Internet. Almost 90% of smartphone users regularly access the World Wide Web and immediately become an easy target for observers. Each tower assigns its subscriber an identifier. By the set of identifiers of different towers you can roughly judge the location.

The peculiarity of this method and its main disadvantage is a significant variation in the accuracy of determination. If the user is connected to the network via an operator’s tower, the error may be up to half a kilometer, but if the connection is made through a local Wi-Fi network, this sector is narrowed to just a few tens of meters. In a word, it’s a lottery. In rural areas the position is determined with an error of tens of kilometers, and further from densely populated areas the figures will be even worse. In some countries, the approximate location is determined from a single station. And a giant circle around it is an error.

In fact, this list could be expanded even further. Some methods of determining the location are guided by the phone’s IMEI. You can also use the CB messages of the operator for this purpose. However, they are not included in this list for the reason that they are not available to ordinary people and are used only by a narrow circle of specialists. Therefore, their participation in this review is inappropriate.