How Accurate is Find my iPhone?

Your worst nightmare has come true; your iPhone has been lost or stolen. The panic sets in. But wait, there is one thing you can do to help improve the chances of getting it back. Apple introduced the “find my iPhone” feature as a way for people to keep track of their phone’s whereabouts. And while this may seem like a great tool, how accurate is it? That’s what we set out to find out.

Is “Find My iPhone” 100% Accurate?

The answer to this question is simple. Assuming your Precise Location is turned on for the Find My app, your iPhone tracker is accurate as your GPS. At this time most GPS devices are accurate to within 3 meters in high-accuracy areas. In locations surrounded by buildings or in tunnels this number will increase until there is no GPS signal.

In fact Find My has more than one way to locate your device which include:

  • GPS
  • Wifi networks
  • Cellular date
  • Find My Network (IOS 15+)

The Find My app may use a combination of GPS, cellular data, and Wi-Fi to locate a lost or missing device. If the GPS of your device doesn’t get a good signal, it may switch to cell towers or wifi triangulation which can’t be much reliable and could be off by miles sometimes.

How to enable Find My?

To make use of this feature, you will need to turn it on before it’s too late. If your device is lost or stolen and you had kept this option off, there will be no way to locate it anymore nor you can erase it remotely. So enabling this feature should be your first priority.

Since IOS 13.0.1 Find My iPhone and Find My Friends has merged into one standalone app called Find My. If you want to let anyone like your spouse track your device, you will need to go through this app.

Make sure Precise Location is turned on

Precise Location is an option within Location Services which defines the precision level of your location that a specific app may have access to. If it’s turned off, the app will only have a general idea of your location. If you turned it on, the app may access to your exact location. 

The Find My app needs to have access to your location with high precision, other wise the data it provides will be useless. So you will want to make a double check to see if the Precise Location option is enabled after Find My app has been set up.

  • Head over to your iPhone settings
  • Tap Privacy
  • Tap Location Services
  • Locate “Find My” app and tap on it
  • If Precise Location is on then you’re good to go, if not, then obviously you will need to turn it on

How to turn on Find My on iPhone?

To turn on Find My on your iPhone follow these steps:

1- Head to the Settings of your device.

2- Tap on your name at the top, then tap Find My.

3- If you want friends and family to know where you are, turn on Share My Location.

4- Tap Find My [device], then turn on Find My [device].

5- An iPhone showing the Find My iPhone screen, with Find My iPhone turned on.

6- To see your device even when it’s offline, turn on Find My network.

7- To have the location of your device sent to Apple when the battery is low, turn on Send Last Location.

What about Airpods, Apple Watch and beats?

If your Airpods, Apple Watch or beats headphones are already paired with your iPhone, the Find My feature will automatically be enabled for them. To make sure Find My network is enabled do the followings:

Apple Watch:

On your Apple Watch, open Settings.

Tap your name.

Scroll down until you see your Apple Watch.

Tap your watch name, then tap Find My Watch.

Make sure that Find My network is turned on.

AirPods Pro or AirPods Max:

Go to Settings > Bluetooth.

Tap the More Info button  next to your device in the list. 

Scroll down to Find My network. 

Make sure that Find My network is turned on. 

How to turn on for mac?

Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences.

Click Security & Privacy, then click the Privacy tab. If the padlock in the lower left is locked , click it, then enter the name and password of the administrator.

Select Location Services.

Select the Enable Location Services checkbox, and make sure that the checkbox next to Find My is selected.

The macOS Security and Privacy window, with Enable Location Services turned on and Find My turned on.

Click Done, then return to the main System Preferences window. 

Click Apple ID, then click iCloud.

Select the checkbox next to Find My Mac. 

The macOS System Preferences window with Find My Mac turned on.

To make sure you can find your Mac if it’s ever lost or stolen, click Options. Check that Find My Mac is On and Find My network is On.* Then click Done. 

How to locate my device using Find My app?

To locate your lost device you can weather access to Find My app from an Apple device (iPhone, iPad and Mac) or iCloud on any device like an Android phone or PC.

  • Now launch the Find My [device] app. 
  • Tap Devices at the bottom of the screen. The devices section has a list of all devices you have access to and can use the app to locate them. Your lost device’s name should be listed here. Find and tap the device. Hopefully now you will see the location of your device on the displayed map. If you see “No Location Found” under your device name, That means your device is currently offline and no previous location has been provided. So it would be a good idea to turn the Notify When Found option on under the Notification section. Now if someone turns your device on, you will be immediately notified of its current location.
  • Get to your device: The map above the screen should give you a location. If your lost device is still online it will be it’s current location. But if it has gone offline then this location indicates the last location of your device before going offline.(//exception is the ios network)
  • Play a sound: From the current screen, tap “Play Sound” it will help you to locate your device easier. If you’re lucky enough, after a short delay you will hear it. The sound will play for about two minutes. But if you see the “Sound Pending” message, that means your device is offline and the sound will play the next time it goes online.