I lost my Verizon provider Samsung S4 phone while running on a narrow trail surrounded by brush. The phone no longer has power. Using Google Location History I obtained that Latitude and Longitude of the phone and have returned 2 times to the location looking for it using hard copies of assorted Google Map views and Bing aerial views centered on the coordinates. I've yet to locate it in part due to the heavy cover. Any suggestions? My wife has an older Android phone powered by Virgin Mobile using Sprint's network. My guess is if I brought that phone to the same coordinates it may give me a considerably different position (by up to 20 meters?) than the other phone. Any thoughts on how I can find the phone? Cell tower reception is also poor for both phones at the location where my phone was lost.

  • GPS and especially cell phone GPS will get you only roughly in the area, but you are right, your search radius will be at least 20m of the last known location - assuming that someone hasn't already found it and removed it or heavy rain washed it downhill. Perhaps a good metal detector might help but you will be covering a fairly large area. Good luck! Nov 4, 2014 at 22:36
  • Did the phone definitely lose power after you dropped it? Do you have a series of points leading up to the last known position? Also, it might be interesting to work on a solution to this using some GIS tools - do you use QGIS or something like it?
    – Simbamangu
    Nov 5, 2014 at 7:14
  • If your cell phone has an error rate of 20 meters, your phone could be anywhere in a 40 meter (20x20= 400 meter area) circle. Granted that is small area but then you need to factor in that the coordinate given could be anywhere in that circle. Therefore your really looking at doubling your search radius to accommodate this a 40x40 circle (1600 meter area) or .4 acres.
    – jonathanw
    Nov 20, 2014 at 19:24

2 Answers 2


As the previous comments stated if you have a series of points where it could be, ie the pings as it was dying, you could take a statistical average of them and possibly come up with a good starting point. "Cell phones triangulate their position using weak GPS sensors and, if you’re lucky, positional information from cell phone towers. Some have added the ability to triangulate from area Wi-Fi hotspots, but that only works well in urban environments. All said, you’re lucky to find a spot on the Earth with your phone within 50 to 100 feet out in Rural America." (source tri-state engineering)

I would guess your best bet would be to buy/rent a metal detector. Find your most likely central coordinate and attempt to sweep out in spiral pattern radiating away from your central coordinate point (ie your most likely last position)

As others have said your phone could be anywhere within the circle of a radius 20meters. There is really no way to limit it down any further with the type of GPS reciever your phone came equipped with.


I would log in to Samsungs page and see if it shows the last position thereunder find my phone. Can also have the option to wipe it or ring it.

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