How often do you go ANYWHERE without your smartphone? If you’re like most people the answer is probably never.
But what if your phone was tracking everything you did and everywhere you went 24 hours-a- day, 7 days-a-week? Would that make you uncomfortable?
If you answered yes, then keep reading.
In this article you’ll learn some simple ways to make your phone impossible to track. We’ll also help you identify especially flagrant data collection apps.
Contents of this Guide
- Who Would Want to Track Your Phone?
- 9 Tips on How to Make Your Phone Impossible to Track
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who Would Want to Track Your Phone?
So who would want to track your phone to see your location and activities?
Phone tracking generally falls into two categories:
- apps that track your location, purchases, and activities in order to sell this data to businesses.
- specific people that want to monitor your location and activities
Let’s take a look at the type of apps that are used for both types of tracking.
Apps That Collect Your Data to Sell to Businesses
Most of us don’t think twice about downloading a new app to our smartphone. We use them for communicating with friends, keeping an eye on our personal finances, and even buying groceries.
But many of these apps track where we go and what we do. They can accurately track your location to within a couple yards, and often measure it thousands of times per day.
A study done by Exodus Privacy found that 75% of Android apps contain hidden trackers. These trackers are primarily used to capture behavioral analytics and location data to sell to Advertisers.
This list of apps collecting this data includes some surprising names like Twitter, Spotify, Snapchat, Tinder, and LOTS more.
Tracking Apps Installed By Someone You Know
The second category of tracking app is more nefarious. Cell phone stalkerware, or spy apps, can be installed on Android or iOS smartphones.
These spying apps monitor and record text messages, social media activity, chat and dating apps, GPS location, phone call logs, and more.
These apps are marketed as parental monitoring apps, but they can be used to track anyone’s phone.
If you are suspicious of an app on your phone you can check it here for free.
9 Tips on How to Make Your Phone Impossible to Track
The tips below will help protect you and your phone from being tracked. To a certain extent it is impossible to turn off ALL tracking. But you CAN cut down on the amount of data your phone is sharing.
1. Disable Location Services
Your phone is being tracked by default. Most people don’t even know this. Several apps and third-party services on your phone take note of your device’s location.
You should disable location services if you suspect someone or some app is tracking your movements or location.
Turning off your location services is a simple process requiring you to access your phone settings.
You can toggle the service off on an iOS device or Android phone using the Control Center or Quick Settings, respectively.
Just open the Control Center or Quick Settings, find the toggle for the location services, and set it off.
There will also be a permission access pop-up that comes up when you install a new app. You can also go to the location settings in the Settings app to toggle it off.
There is also a way to configure the location data permissions for each app. You may want to do this to keep the convenience of having certain apps track your location.
For example, keeping the Google Maps location tracking on may be convenient for you.
You may find yourself in a situation where you need to find the nearest gas station, or you may be in food delivery services and need it for your work.
To access this setting, you have to
- Open the app drawer
- Go to the Settings app
- Select Location
- Tap on App access to the location
You can customize specific app permissions to access your location data in this menu.
Devices with the most updated version of Android can even make more detailed configurations.
You can adjust if you want it to turn on only when it’s off or have it off all the way, etc.
Note that this may cause certain apps not to function at all. This also does not completely prevent the operating system itself from using your location data.
Can My Phone Be Tracked if Location Services Is Off?
Yes. Your cell carrier can track you as long as your phone is on. As long as you have cell service, your cell phone will have to communicate with cell towers constantly.
You can keep your mobile phone off if you’re not using it to prevent that location data from being sent to your provider.
Your phone can only be tracked in the last location it was on if it’s currently off.
2. Location Settings
Google’s service utilizes your location to warn you of various events.
This is how Google warns you of storms, earthquakes, etc., that are happening or have happened in your area.
Just follow these instructions to turn off these functions.
- Open the Settings app
- Look for Location
- Under Location Service, you will find the various services that Google provides that require your location
- You can customize which to keep on, or you can turn all of them off if you so choose
You will also find the Google Location Settings among these settings. You can check if there are any unknown parties with whom you may unknowingly share your location history.
End the service immediately if there’s a suspicious party with access to your google location history.
3. Airplane Mode
Airplane mode is one of the easiest ways of cutting off all your connections to networks that may be spying on your real-time location.
Apps that track you more often than not need an internet connection that can send them your current location. Many such apps would be rendered useless without a connection to the net.
You only need to open the Control Center on iOS devices to access the airplane mode toggle. Go into the Quick Settings on Android devices to enable airplane mode.
Turning your Bluetooth functionalities off is also a good idea to ensure you’re safe, especially in a crowded public space.
It’s generally a good idea not to connect a Wi-Fi hot spot to the public. A savvy-enough hacker can intercept wireless signals in public.
4. Limit Ad Tracking
Companies can track where you are through Google’s internet-based advertising. Sometimes they can not only track your real-time location, but they can also track your internet activities.
This is so that Google services can provide you with targeted ads tailored to your tastes, activities, and preferences.
But if you do not want companies to look into your data and internet behaviors and activities, you can limit this function in the ad settings.
For Android phones, you need to:
- Open your Settings
- Look for and tap “Google,” then “Ads.”
- You can toggle the “Opt-out of ads personalization” from here
For iPhone users, you need to:
- Go to the settings tab of your iPhone
- Navigate to the “Privacy” tab
- Go to the section on advertising and switch “Limited Ad Tracking” on
You can reset your ad ID to reset the data stored that was related to your ad ID. This can also help to limit ad tracking for targeted ads.
5. Location Spoofing Apps
There is also the option to disguise your exact location. You can do this by using programs that can assign a fake location to your device’s location.
Many of these apps are available in the AppStore or the Google Play Store. An example is Fake GPS Location Spoofer from IncorporateApps. (keep in mind that free apps will have ads)
These programs are generally easy to navigate. It only requires following a few easy steps to set your cell phone to a different location.
Below are the usual steps to follow when masking your mobile phone location.
- Install the GPS location spoofer app
- Tap location change button
It’s that simple. There are free apps, and there are paid versions.
The paid versions will give you more functionality and customizability, such as being able to control where location markers will put you on the map.
6. Disable Your Web and Application Activity
If you use an Android device, Google is tracking you. Google stores a MASSIVE amount of data about you and your behaviors (searches, purchases, Youtube videos etc) for advertising purposes.
There is a way to manage the location reporting data that Google collects and stores on your account.
Just follow these simple steps to adjust how much of your location history is stored on your Google account:
- Login to your Google account
- Click on your profile picture and select “Manage Account”
- Click on the “Data and Privacy” tab
- Scroll down to the “History Settings” section
- Here you can change your Web & App Activity, Location History, and Youtube history settings
Note that you must turn off both Location History and Web & App Activity if you want to stop Google from saving your location markers completely. The image below shows all three of these settings set to paused
Your frequent locations will be prevented from being stored on your Google account once you opt-out of the service.
7. Use Secured Private Web Browsers
Certain internet sites give various services for seemingly free. Their online service comes at the cost of showing you ads or giving your info away to ad companies.
Trying out a private web browser is an option if you want to make your phone impossible to track for companies wanting to advertise to you.
Getting private browser apps like Brave will help you browse the internet more privately.
Brave is an open-source web browser focused on privacy and automatically blocked online ads. It also blocks website trackers that can be used for interest-based advertising.
Some Chrome or Microsoft Edge versions will allow you to toggle a “Do Not Track” setting in the security settings. The Samsung internet app mobile browser also has a similar function.
This is similar to the Limit Ad Tracking we discussed on iOS and Android devices.
There are also options in these browsers that will stop it from storing your browsing history.
8. Use A VPN
Getting a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is another option that can provide further protection from hackers trying to get your IP address and real-time location.
Utilizing a VPN is one of the easiest and most effective ways for someone to protect their identity and activity data online safe.
What you do on the internet passes through an encrypted tunnel when you connect to a VPN service. This means that no one can take a peek into your data.
This protects your data even from your internet service provider. How does this relate to how to make your phone impossible to track?
VPNs also have the function of being able to change your location.
Using a VPN changes your IP address. An IP address is a unique ID showing your device’s location.
Most VPN services can also allow you to choose where you want your location to be shown as long as the VPN service has a server in that location.
9. Use a Privacy-Focussed Android ROM
By FAR the most effective way to make your phone impossible to track is to use an operating system that focuses on privacy and security.
Graphene OS is an open source operating system for Android phones. It was developed as an alternative to Google’s Android operating system.
Unfortunately the Graphene OS only works with the Google Pixel line of smartphones.
Below is a list of all Pixel Phones currently supported by the Graphene OS:
- Pixel 6 Pro (raven)
- Pixel 6 (oriole)
- Pixel 5a (barbet)
- Pixel 5 (redfin)
- Pixel 4a (5G) (bramble)
- Pixel 4a (sunfish)
- Pixel 4 XL (coral)
- Pixel 4 (flame)
Installing a new operating system is a much more complicated step, but it offers by far the best privacy and security. Even Edward Snowden agrees that Graphene OS is the most effective way to secure your phone.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Knowing how to make your phone impossible to track is a vast topic. So we’ve compiled a few FAQs to clarify any possible unclarities further.
How Can I Tell if My Android Phone Is Being Tracked?
A phone that is being tracked often shows signs of suspicious activity. Here are some of the most common signs that your phone is being tapped or tracked.
What Should I Do if I Suspect My Phone Is Being Tracked?
If you suspect your phone is being tracked, you can look for suspicious apps on your app tray. Immediately uninstall any suspicious apps.
Next you should download an anti-virus app like Kaspersky or Norton. These apps can identify and remove spy software from your device.
If you are concerned for your safety you should immediately put your device in “Airplane Mode” as this will keep any tracking software from monitoring your GPS location.
If you’re being tracked, it’s possible that your private communication is also being monitored. Try not to send any important messages with confidential information until you resolve this issue.
As a last resort you can perform a factory reset. This will delete any apps that did not come pre-installed from the manufacturer.
Is It Possible to Prevent Being Tracked?
Yes. Turning off your device is the best way to prevent yourself from being tracked.
It’s hardest to track a device with no active internet connection or no power going through it at all.
Any trace of you that someone may be tracking will stop at the last known location that your phone was on.
Make sure your last location before you turn off your phone isn’t a significant location like your home, office, or any place you may frequent.
You now know how to make your phone impossible to track.
Remember to opt out of location services, put airplane mode on your cell phones, and utilize programs that make your activities and browser history more private.