A cell phone can be located using the theft protection system supplied by the operating system manufacturer. For Android Phones, the application is Android Device Manager; for Windows Phones, the application is called Find my Phone; and for iPhone, the application is called Find my iPhone.
Theft protection and location services, such as Android Device Manager, rely on the connection between the phone and the operating system manufacturer's cloud services. Some manufacturers, such as Google and Microsoft, allow you to activate the location service after the device is lost. Apple requires that you activate the GPS location service on the phone before the phone can be located from another computer.
If the device is lost or stolen, you can log into your account on the manufacturer's website, and then set a flag that uses the GPS system on the phone to report its location. Some location services include enhancement theft and loss protection services. These enhanced services, such as Find my iPhone, can disable the phone remotely and display custom messages to deny thieves potential resale value of the device or increase the chances of the device being returned to the owner. If a device is lost or stolen, report the theft to the police as soon as possible.