January 27, 2013

How a FREE app saved me $649 this weekend (and why I think you should download it!)


I am a longtime fan of Apple – I adore their products and their customer service (remember when I spilled an entire cup of coffee on my MacBook Pro?). My old iPhone 4 that I had for a couple years had a badly cracked screen (completely my fault) – so bad that it would give you glass slivers when you used it. I finally bit the bullet and upgraded to a new iPhone 5 last December. It was the same cost to repair as it would have been to get the new phone, so I went for it. This time I invested in an OtterBox Defender Series Case for iPhone 5 – I wanted to keep it safe!

Fast forward to this weekend and we were at Great Wolf Lodge (we used our Groupon!) – my iPhone was only four weeks old. I stopped at the front desk to check in and our room wasn’t ready. I texted my mom to let her know our room wasn’t ready, while the gentlemen got our wrist bands and other things set up. I had my phone on the counter last I saw it. I thought I put my phone in my pocket, I walked away – toward the lobby so the kids could join the continuous dance party in the lobby corner – and went to grab my phone, and it was gone. I couldn’t find it. I searched everywhere. I got down on the ground and looked under all the couches, I paced the 100 feet between the check-in desk and the lobby. My husband called it – we didn’t hear it ring. I couldn’t find it anywhere.

I filed a lost item report at the front desk and by that time our room was ready. We went up to our room and everyone was a bit frazzled and frustrated. I remembered I had some kind of app on my phone for finding a lost phone, but I didn’t remember what it was exactly. I pulled out my laptop out and googled “Find My iPhone” and immediately recognized the app I had.  It then walked me through these easy steps:

1.) Log into my iCloud (I had never done this before!)


2.) Click on the Find My iPhone app icon

3.) It immediately shows you physical locations of all your Apple devices (that have this app on them)

4.) My phone had been powered down – so it was not showing up on the map. At this point I knew someone had it, because I ALWAYS leave it on. Always.


5.) Even though it was shut off – you can click on the device you’re looking for and enter it into Lost Mode. It was so intuitive that I was able to do this – never having done it before! With Lost Mode – I was able to lock my phone remotely – now requiring a 4-digit code to unlock it. Sweet. Then I was able to enter a custom message on the phone that would appear as soon as the phone was turned on, I wrote: “This phone is lost or stolen, turn it into the Great Wolf Lodge front desk.”

6.) You can also request that your phone is completely erased when it’s turned on and connected to a network. This prevents the person who has it from getting any of your personal information.


7.) It was only 15 minutes after I set up the Lost Mode on my phone that the front desk called to tell me my phone was turned in. Someone had found it in the hallway. It was missing it’s Otterbox (so somebody obviously tampered with it), but it was unharmed. I think some punk kid probably picked it up and was playing with it. When they realized it was being tracked AND it had a very specific message on it – they tossed it. Then an honest soul turned it in. Thank goodness.

I honestly believe this FREE app saved me the cost of buying a brand new phone – $647 (when you buy it without renewing a phone contract). I’m sharing this story because sometimes being frugal is more than getting a good deal, but saving yourself un-needed expenses! Taking the time to protect the assets you have – like a sturdy case and this app – can help you from spending more down the road.  I obviously need to be more attentive and be more careful next time – but I sure am glad that I had this free app installed.

Download the Find My iPhone app here. It’s a FREE app, developed by Apple. It may not work as well as it did for me – but it certainly can’t hurt to have it on your phone. If you’re super paranoid about being tracked via GPS, then this program may not be for you – but for me, it was worth having it installed and enabled on my phone.

Do you have this app on your phone? Has this app worked for you before? 

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  1. Brenda Smith says:

    My husbands phone was stolen and that is a great app as long as the phone is turned on. It wont be located if the thief turns it off unfortunately. It is very handy though for finding it when lost. Luckily we caught the creep that stole the phone because he was on camera but he had already sold the phone to someone downtown. Hopeful but doubtful to get restitution. These iphones are not cheap to replace.

    • That’s unfortunate about your husband’s phone. 🙁 I wonder how they avoid turning it on? Isn’t is useless otherwise? I suppose crooks will always find a way to thwart the system, though. Hope it turns up. 🙁

  2. MommyMonkey says:

    We use the app at home to find our devices. But we did use it one time to find an iPod touch my son had set down at the drug store. When we realized it was missing we called the store but it hadn’t been turned in. We used the app and could see it was still at the store. We went in, had it play a sound and found it on top of children’s medicine boxes at kid height. Awesome app! Awesome story Queen Bee!

  3. Doesn’t GWL have cameras in there hallways? I would think they would have. They could then see who took the phone in the first place. They should at least have them on the desk I would think. Glad you found the phone.

  4. I love my Otterbox Defender Series case for my iphone & I just got one for the ipad. Seriously, I’ve dropped my phone many times and it there is not even a scratch on it! The Find My Phone would have been handy to have when my husband got his original iphone stolen a few years ago.

    Thanks for the tip!

  5. My 17-year-old daughter and I both have “Find My iPhone” installed on our phones. One day she called frantically from her job saying she thinks she lost her new iPhone. I logged into the “Find” app from my computer. When I selected to find her iPhone, it located her phone at her work address. She then said, “Oh. I just found it in my back pocket!” Really?! lol Gotta love this app!

  6. The “Find My iPhone” app is seriously the greatest thing ever!!! And it works for any Apple device!!! I love it!! You know when you miss place your phone in your own house it’s bad – but you can pull up the website and play an alert on it (even will play on Silent)!!! You can do it on any devices on you cloud – so if I need to get ahold of my husband but he’s not answering, it will play an alert until he looks at it!! LOVE IT!!!!

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