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The Cost of Losing Your Smartphone Overseas for a Day

What's the first thing people tell you to do when you get a new smartphone? I'll bet it's to try and get you hooked to yet another new and addictive gaming app than anything else. After all, these handy critters provide plenty of entertainment for anyone in the form of media consumption, web browsing and especially gaming. Even our very first App Attack article series began with the top five crucial entertainment and gaming apps you'll need. We don't deny these are cool apps, but has anyone ever pointed out important life-saving apps that you should download like phone locater utilities to safeguard your precious?

My wife found out the hard way just a few weeks ago when she lost her first Android smartphone in the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, the financial capital of India. Granted one should be doubly cautious of your most precious personal belongings (and yes, that includes mobile phones), my wife's tale is probably typical of a heavy overseas shopper. Apparently her phone was accidentally left behind in one of the street shops while she was busy taking care of the loot from her shopping spree. While the phone lost was using a local SIM card, she still had a spare phone using her Singapore SIM card.

Now take note that all this happened on the night before she had to fly back home. With less than 24 hours left in her foreign stay, she hadn't much time nor options on hand and settled on using the old roaming-enabled phone. That one day of mobile usage which accounted for several calls to try and retrieve her lost phone and to assure her close contacts of her whereabouts cost us a grand total of $300 for just the roaming charges. Now that's almost first-hand experience on how people chalk up ridiculously huge mobile bills for overseas usage. Worse so if you're using data while roaming (for which my colleague has provided valuable tips to curb costs).

Anyway, this mini debacle highlighted the need for phone security and locater apps - both in case of theft or just pure amnesia. Whichever the case, these apps are only useful for a very short period of time as it relies on your phone being turned on and still having battery life. Not to mention the SIM card originally used with your Android phone is still intact and hasn't yet been swapped out. All Android phones require a valid Gmail account which is linked together for authentication, Android Marketplace needs and more. Here's a couple of really useful apps for this purpose and the best part is you don't need them to be pre-installed before you misplace your phone! 

Plan B

Price: Free
Category: Tools
This is a quick and easy phone locater app which you can initiate installation from the online Google Marketplace. It will attempt to install on your registered device, automatically enable GPS and send out phone location details to your Google Gmail account. Most comments on Marketplace claim excellent accuracy, but with Singapore's super high density living, the best we managed in our trials is within 500 meters accuracy (but even then it was nearly a kilometer off). However, it might be more useful in non high-rise dwellings where tracking could be more accurate.

  

Android Lost

Price: Free
Category: Tools
It installs in a similar manner to the above app, but Android Lost has a whole host of other added functions such as remotely enabling alarm, sending SMS'es from your PC, erase SD card, lock and even wipe your lost phone.

 

Vijay Anand / Editor of HardwareZone.com

A pioneering contributor of HardwareZone.com since its inception in 1998, his keen interest in DIY computing has helped establish standards for testing, reporting, layout and styling of online articles. As the Editor of the site since 2005, he oversees all content production with the editorial team and the several contributors who power the portal and maintain the popular forums.

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