Applications Devices

I Lost My Phone In London!


I usually carry a minimum of two handsets: A BlackBerry Bold and an iPhone 4. Between them, I have everything I generally need to run my businesses wherever I am.

When I’m on the train, I’ll often sit and use the iPhone and have the Bold in reserve — often sitting on my leg, or sometimes sitting on the empty seat next to me. Just for easy access. I know this is silly. I still do it.

“One of these days,” I tell myself, “I’m going to get up and walk out of the train carriage forgetting my BlackBerry.” Yeah.

The Here and Now

Let’s fast forward to this morning. I got on the train. I did some work on both phones. I got off the train at Waterloo Station, hopped on to the Waterloo & City Line and I was walking along the side of the Bank of England about 10 minutes later.

All was good. Until, that is, I thought, “Where is my BlackBerry?”

I bet you do this to, right? Now and again, you have to just check. Just in case. I patted my suit pocket. And then I broke out into the full where-is-my-phone pocket patting dance.

I *had* my iPhone. I couldn’t find my BlackBerry.


“I’ve been pickpocketed,” I thought, “The arses!” I exclaimed to myself.

And then I remembered that the BlackBerry I’m using right now is the 9780 — the all new (and still reasonably exclusive) BlackBerry Bold running OS 6.0 (it is brilliant, by the way). I’m testing the phone. It’s a tester unit from RIM.

Double arse.

That’s going to be at least £400 to replace. Add into the embarrassment of having to phone RIM and explain. Oh dear.

The Realisation

That’s when I realised: I must have left the phone on the train. I broke out into a sweat. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so stupid.

The adrenalin began to surge. I kid ye not. I began to develop a mild panic.

And then I remembered Smrtguard.

That’s not a typo.

Last night at about 1am in the morning, I was installing applications on the new Bold and thought I should see if BlackBerry Protect was available yet. Just in case I lost the phone. It’s not available yet. So I remembered Smrtguard from a RIM briefing a while ago — looked it up, installed it, activated and went to bed.

The Solution

Smrtguard — as the name suggests — is a ‘smart’ guard for your BlackBerry or Android device offering data backup and device recovery facilities. Standing next to the Bank of England, I whipped out the iPhone and typed in This took a few attempts because the phone’s auto-correct function really, really doesn’t like ‘Smrtguard’. And I had to manually disable the piece-of-rubbish ‘The Cloud’ WiFi service which kept on popping up and interrupting me. I’ve no trouble with The Cloud, but I want the whole thing to be seamless. Having to login every time I walk 100 paces is an area supposed to have ‘blanket WiFi coverage’ is highly frustrating.

I logged into Smrtguard wondering just how reliable the service would be.

I immediately clicked on the ‘Locate my phone’ option. A message appeared saying this instruction had been sent to my handset.

I began to calm a little.

Then I clicked on ‘Location’ to see where my phone was.

I got some GPS coordinates and a street name. I began to panic — had some arse picked up the phone and legged it? Assuming I’d left it on the train? If so, do I locate him? Do I go to where he is? Is he, right now trying to flog the 9780 in a pub somewhere near Waterloo?

I clicked into the location detail and browsed the Google Map.

It explained that my handset’s coverage was low (so it was probably inside or undercover). It also determined my handset was at Waterloo Station.

What A Difference 20 Seconds Makes

Phew! So the phone is *at* Waterloo. I’d determined this much. Excellent.

And then I realised the phone might still be on the train, where I left it. In which case, that train might leave any time.

I hopped into a taxi and raced to Waterloo, glued to my homepage watching for any movement. There was none. I also instructed the handset to lock itself via the Smrtguard service. I got email confirmation right-away.

At Waterloo Station, I ran to the group of platforms where I’d arrived just a few minutes ago, worrying that the train was moments away from leaving. In fact, I didn’t know if the train on Platform 16 was the same one. I didn’t know what carriage I’d been sitting in.

I spoke to the attendant by the security gates and he pointed me toward the red cleaning hut, half-way up Platform 16, “Check with them Sir!”

As I walked along the platform, I brought up again and tapped on the ‘audio ping’ button. This makes your phone start making a rather annoying alarm sound continuously to help find it. (I could also have instructed the phone to do a remote backup too.)

I arrived at the cleaning hut and knocked on the door.


“Yes?” said a chap, popping his head out.

“Er, I left my phone on that train about 20 minutes ago,” I said, pointing to the train. I could hear a somewhat annoying ‘errrrp, errrp, errrp’ sound coming from within the hut. The chap glanced to his right involuntarily. I experienced a momentary blip of hope. The phone could very well still be on the train — which was due to leave in under 4 minutes. On the other hand, that COULD be my phone beeping away.

“What kind of phone?” the chap asked.

“BlackBerry Bold — black,” I replied, before chancing my arm, “It’s the one that’s beeping rather loudly.”

The chap shut the door for a moment.

“This it?” He said, holding it out.


I thanked the chap profusely. His colleagues came out to say hello. I thanked them too. I tried to give the cleaner who picked up the phone the £20 I had in my pocket as thanks. He wouldn’t accept it.

“Just doing my job Sir, very kind but no thank you!”

I tried to thrust the cash into this hand. But he was firm.

I thanked him again, the stress I’d been feeling evaporating quickly.

Smrtguard: It Really Works

Well then, I can’t tell you how delighted I am that I installed Smrtguard. I’m a MobileMe subscriber so I’ve got the ‘Find My iPhone’ functionality activated on the iPhone 4 (that’s come in handy a few times too) but I hadn’t bothered putting anything on the BlackBerry until last night. I’m so glad I did.

Now then, if your BlackBerry or Android device doesn’t already have something like this — I strongly recommend you take a bit of time and install Smrtguard or something similar. The basic Smrtguard service is free — you need to subscribe for the antivirus/data backup features.

Thank you Smrtguard!

[Note: To those who experienced this ‘real time’ with me via Twitter, I wrote this post on Monday 10th — but only just published today. Just in case you were wondering]

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

25 replies on “I Lost My Phone In London!”

Part of the reason Smrtguard worked so well (in this instance) was the ability to login in and use it on the iPhone. I wonder if it had been the other way round would logging in to mobileme have worked so well on a BlackBerry or Android or Nokia device???

I’ve logged in to mobileme using a HTC Desire and Hero before and it’s worked fine however I’ve just had a go off the Desire HD and it seems impossible now. On the full page the password entry both is greyed out, and the mobile view (even when the user agent is set as iPhone) doesn’t display properly!

That was lucky!!! Have to try Smrtguard! Use Lookout on my Desire HD. The native HTC Hub (or Sense) offers a LOCATE service but it never work! Have tried Wavesecure and it looks solid, might have to purchase the app.

> Part of the reason Smrtguard worked so well (in this instance) was the ability to login in and use it on the iPhone

I must say that is lame point scoring. Ewan’s description shows it was almost unusable on the iPhone due to the lame OS design, networking and signal problems, and UI failures. You would not get these on other OSes, you only need a browser! So anything with a decent browser would work fine.

Incidentally I just tried it on my N8 and are also being very lame by redirecting the N8 browser to a holding page saying the Symbian version is coming soon when they should be displaying the full site so you can login and locate your missing device.

However, ignoring Smrtguard’s stupidity, I used Opera Mobile on my N8 and the whole thing worked fine. Much easier than Ewan’s iPhone experience incidentally.

Alex I certainly wasnt point scoring at all I was merely asking a question out of interest, if anything my post could be determined as a dig at mobileme not Smrtguard

I read this and wondered if there were any attempts by Nokia/Symbian to take the built-in SMS-kill feature and tie it into Ovi Maps so that it works just like this. Wouldn’t just make sense, but dang it if most of this isn’t already there for the picking.

Glad you got your device back Ewan; always good when those late nite hunches turn useful quickly.

Not wishing to step on any toes here, but on Nokia (S60V3FP2, S60V5 and Symbian (nee ^3)), all of this and a little bit more is offered, and done, very well by F-Secure. Their F-Secure Mobile Security application is what you are looking for. Also works on Android and older versions of Windows Phone. I can get it from the Ovi Store on my N8. I had it on my N85 from my days living in Tampere. Three days in to life with my N8 I have not installed it yet, but then where I live now is, well, quieter, shall we say. But it will be going on as I am returning back to good old Blighty at some point soon for a family holiday! Will have to buy a new yearly subscription though, the old one run out last month. Although saying that, most of the services included in Mobile Security are offered for free in F-Secure’s Anti-Theft for Mobile. Which does pretty much everything you have mentioned in this post as far as I can see Ewan. When you get that N8 give them a whirl!

Yeah — there’s another one for Symbian that I did a video of at MWC two
years ago. I cannot for the life of me remember what it’s called. Rafe will

Remind me that if I’m short on cash, to just pickpocket you, wait a while and then give your phone back to you in exchange for profuse thanks and a crisp £20 note. Result.

Your article sent me on an app hunt for device security. My choices would have been pretty limited I knew as I own a Nokia E72. Track and Protect have an app but that doesn’t support India as a region. Smrtguard do not have an app. Wavesecure is fantastic. $20/year is NOTHING for what my phone means to me!!! Thanks for reminding indirectly through this article, what an important app installation I was procastinating…

Just a note, anyone who’s got iOS 4.2.1 on their iPhone 4 can get the FindMyiPhone functionality for free. You can convert your existing iTunes Store login to a MobileMe account and enable this functionality very easily. I’m using my gmail account for FindMyiPhone. Works great.

Also 3GS users on iOS 4.2.1 can use a colleague or friend’s iPhone 4 to convert their account to MobileMe also

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