How Find My iPhone Saved Me


I haven’t been reluctant to criticize Apple® when that criticism is warranted. To be fair, then, I shouldn’t hesitate to praise Apple when praise is warranted. So here I’ll praise Apple for the Find My iPhone feature.

While on a trip to Barcelona, my iPhone® XS Max was lost—or probably more accurately, was stolen. Luckily, I had enabled Find My iPhone. (Figure 1).

Find my phone

Figure 1_ Find My iPhone

Using my iPad®, I was able to locate my phone and play sounds on it, hoping any colleagues still at the restaurant could locate it if I had left it there. Unfortunately, they heard nothing.

Then I was actually able to see that my iPhone was in motion, at a pace that suggested a person walking, near the restaurant where I had dinner. So I knew that someone had my phone and was walking away with it. Following guidance from Apple, I marked the phone as “lost,” thus locking it and putting my contact information on the screen. I kept playing sounds on it and gathered the information I would need to make a police report.

Marking a phone as “lost” locks it and disables Apple Pay®. A locked phone can’t even be reformatted by anyone. Only my Apple ID® password could unlock it. It was no longer an expensive phone that could be “fenced” by a thief—it was just a nice looking, 8-oz. paperweight.

I did not, however, follow the last piece of guidance from Apple: remotely erase the phone. If I did this, I would lose the ability to track it.

Just as I was about to head off to the nearest police station to file a stolen phone report, someone used the contact information on its screen to contact the front desk of the hotel I was staying in. The front-desk clerk guessed that the thief had discarded the nice-looking but now worthless paperweight, and a Good Samaritan had found it and called the hotel.

This fantastic clerk contacted a local delivery service to pick the phone up and deliver it to the hotel. The Good Samaritan wanted no reward and only asked that I “pay it forward” by doing some future good deed to a person in need.

After a wait of only an hour, I paid the delivery service about €8—and I had my phone back. I unlocked it with my password, and everything was as before. I was one lucky guy.

The moral of this story:

Did something similar happen to you too and Find My iPhone saved you? Let us know in the below comments, on Twitter or Facebook.

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