How To Make Your Phone Impossible To Track: Enhance Your Mobile Privacy & Security

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You can make your phone impossible to track by using a virtual private network, tweaking your location settings, or turning on airplane mode when your device is not in use. These methods will not disrupt your online activities or put you in harm’s way.

Ever thought about the possibility of strangers using different location services to track your child’s movement? Or even knowing their daily routines and social interactions without your consent? These thoughts most likely send shivers down your spine. I also worry about the online safety of my underaged relatives who have access to the internet.  

That is why I have curated this guide to proffer solutions. Based on my experience, I will show you how to make your phone impossible to track. So, by the time you’re done reading this, your child can use the internet without having to worry about the fear of invasive tracking

Things To Do Before Making Your Phone Impossible To Track

Before I show you how to make your phone impossible to track, here are steps to take and things to note:  

  • Update the phone and available security software.
  • Review application permissions and other security settings
  • Understand that you may experience decreased convenience or functionality, such as reduced battery life, when you enable some phone settings. 
  • Backup specific phone data like contacts, files, and multimedia using a cloud service
  • Learn about all privacy settings at your disposal to utilize them effectively.

How To Make Your Phone Impossible To Track: Surefire Ways To Get It Done

From my experience, making a device impossible to track is no small feat. This is owing to the myriad of people interested in your location data. But don’t worry, I ran so you can walk. Below are the various methods I tried to minimize phone tracking activities:

Lock The SIM Card

SIM cards connect to nearby towers to enable communication via calls, text messages, and internet access. However, the signal can help determine your child’s location anytime because it is tied to the device’s cellular network infrastructure. 

So, instead of completely removing the SIM card, which can make the phone unusable, I suggest you enable “SIM card lock.” Although this may not make the phone impossible to track, it helps minimize unauthorized access, a gateway for cell phone tracking.  

How To Lock SIM Card On An Android Phone

It will take you about 2 minutes

  1. Go to “Settings.”

    Settings app icon on Android smartphone

  2. Select “Security.”

    Security option inside Android smartphone settings

  3. Click on “SIM card lock.”

    Sim card lock option inside security settings

  4. Tap the specific SIM if you have more than one SIM card.

    Sim selection option

  5. Click on the toggle button to enable “SIM card lock.”

    Toggle option to lock the selected sim card

  6. Then, input your preferred SIM PIN.

    Sim pin input option for locking the sim card

How To Lock SIM Card On An iPhone

  1. Open “Settings.”
Setting icon on the iPhone
  1. Select “Mobile data.”
Mobile data option inside iPhone settings
  1. Navigate to the “SIM PIN” option and tap on it. 
Sim pin option inside iPhone mobile data settings
  1. Tap the toggle button to activate.
Sim pin toggle option for locking the sim
  1. Input PIN to lock SIM. 
Pin input option to confirm sim locking

Note: You can always turn on/off the SIM pin on iPhone or Android whenever you want.  

Manage & Disable App Permissions

Many social media apps like Facebook and LinkedIn have embedded trackers for monitoring users’ online activities. However, these trackers can only function if granted access to your phone’s functionalities. Your child may have unknowingly permitted these apps—during their download—to track their data. 

I am also guilty of making such mistakes, even as an adult, so it is not unfounded. Thankfully, you can undo or modify their actions by turning off any irrelevant permissions. This method allows you to determine which apps get to use specific tracking data and when they can use it. 

How To Manage & Disable App Permissions On An Android Phone

  1. Open your “Settings” app.
Settings app icon on Android smartphone
  1. Select “App management.”
App management option inside Android smartphone settings
  1. Click “App permissions” from the list of options that will pop up.
App permissions option inside app management settings
  1. You will see two sections: “Permissions” and “Apps.” 
List of apps with number of allowed permissions

The “Permission” section includes phone functionalities like SMS, calendar, contacts, and storage. 

Conversely, the “Apps” section consists of internal and third-party mobile apps that can access those functionalities. 

  1. You can tap on any feature to see a list of apps that can access it and vice versa. 

For this guide, let’s use LinkedIn.

  1. Tap the “Apps” category to open.
Apps tab inside app permissions settings
  1. Click “LinkedIn.” 
LinkedIn app with 8 allowed permissions
  1. Tap as many features as possible to turn off their permissions
Toggle options to turn on and off permissions for the select app

How To Manage & Disable App Permissions On An iPhone

  1. Go to “Settings.
Settings icon on the iPhone
  1. Click on “Privacy & Security.”
Privacy and security option inside iPhone settings
  1. Select “Tracking.”
Tracking option inside privacy and security settings
  1. Tap the toggle button beside “Allow Apps to Request to Track” to turn off tracking requests from subsequent downloads.
Allow apps to request to track toggle option turned on
  1. Then, scroll down to the last section of your “Settings” dashboard, where you will see all downloaded apps.
Downloaded apps inside iPhone settings

Click on any one app to turn off tracking options previously enabled by your child. 

  1. For example, let’s select “Facebook.”
Facebook app in the list of downloaded apps on iPhone
  1. Locate the “Allow Tracking” option and tap the toggle button beside it. 
Allow tracking toggle option for Facebook
  1. A notification will pop up. Select “Cancel.”
Final confirmation pop up to Allow or Cancel tracking for the Facebook app

My advice: Keep only relevant permissions and ditch the rest. 

Turn On Airplane Mode

Putting your child’s device on airplane mode automatically disconnects it from all wireless connections, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular data, and prevents tracking. However, they won’t be able to use the device to browse, call, or text when it’s in airplane mode. 

I’d advise you to use this option when they are asleep or doing other schoolwork that doesn’t require internet access. That way, no one can steal their location data or monitor their activities when the device is idle, even though it’s not a permanent solution. Here is how to go about it:

How To Turn On Airplane Mode On An Android Phone

  1. Go to “Settings.”
Settings app icon on Android smartphone
  1. Locate “Airplane mode.”
  2. Click on the toggle button beside it to turn on.
Airplane mode toggle option inside Android settings

How To Turn On Airplane Mode On An iPhone 

  1. Open “Settings.”
Settings icon on the iPhone
  1. Locate “Airplane Mode.”
  2. Tap the toggle button beside it to turn it on. 
Airplane mode toggle option in the iPhone settings

An Alternative Method For Both Android & iPhone 

Another way to do it in less than one minute:

  1. Swipe down on your home screen to view the control center.
  2. Tap the airplane icon to enable airplane mode. 

For Android Phones:

Airplane mode option on the Android control center

For iPhones: 

Airplane mode icon on iPhone control center

Disable Location Services Or Access

Location services is the built-in GPS functionality you can use to track the location of a cell phone for free. On the one hand, it can be useful for knowing your child’s exact location during emergencies or helping them navigate to a specific location. In fact, I used it to trace my niece’s whereabouts some time ago. 

However, on the other hand, it allows tracking apps and services to tail your children and store their location information without your consent. To prevent that, your best bet is to turn off their location services. Here’s how to do it:

How To Disable Location Services On An Android Phone

  1. Go to the “Settings” app.
Settings app icon on Android smartphone
  1. Navigate to “Location” and tap on it.
Location option in the Android smartphone settings
  1. Click the toggle button beside it to disable it. That’s all.
Toggle option to turn on location on Android smartphone
  1. Another option is to swipe down on your home screen and tap the location icon to turn it off.  
Location option on Android control center

How To Disable Location Services On An iPhone  

  1. Go to “Settings.”
Settings icon on the iPhone
  1. Click on “Privacy & Security.”
Privacy and security option inside iPhone settings
  1. Tap “Location Services.” 
Location services option in privacy and security
  1. Tap the toggle button beside it, then select “Turn off” to deactivate it. 
Location services toggle option

My advice: Your child can still access emergency Google location services when you turn off location on Android phones. However, if you don’t want to turn off the service completely, you can adjust the location settings to restrict certain apps from using their location data via app permissions. 

Turn Off The Bluetooth Connection

Bluetooth is a form of wireless technology that connects different devices within close range. Most times, when I enable Bluetooth, and it is not in use, it automatically searches for unlocked devices and connects itself. 

Similarly, if your child turns on their Bluetooth connection and leaves it idle, it can sync with another device, enabling that person to track their location. So, you should turn it off. To do this, follow the steps below:

How To Turn Off Bluetooth On Android

  1. Open your “Settings” app.
Settings app icon on Android smartphone
  1. Locate “Bluetooth” and tap on it.
Bluetooth option inside Android settings
  1. Click the toggle button beside it to turn it off. 
Bluetooth toggle option
  1. A quicker alternative is to swipe down on your home screen and tap Bluetooth to turn it off. 
Bluetooth option on Android control center

How To Turn Off Bluetooth On iPhone 

  1. Launch “Settings.”
Settings icon on the iPhone
  1. Click on “Bluetooth.”
Bluetooth option inside iPhone settings
  1. Tap the toggle button to disable it.
Bluetooth toggle option Inside iPhone Bluetooth settings
  1. Alternatively, swipe down on your screen and tap the “Bluetooth” icon to turn it off.
Bluetooth icon on iPhone control center

Disable Google Tracking

Like every search engine, Google tracks a lot of users’ data. So making your phone impossible to track shouldn’t be for third-party apps or services only. You can also restrict it from monitoring your child’s web activities or tracking their movements

When I tried this method, I discovered the process is the same for Android and Apple devices. So, I’ll share the steps I took below, assuming you have already signed into the Google account your child uses:

  1. Open the Google app.
Google app icon on Android smartphone
  1. Click on the profile icon at the top right corner
Profile picture icon at the top right corner on the Google app
  1. Select “Google Account.”
Google account option on the pop up menu
  1. Tap “Data & privacy.”
Data and privacy option for the selected Google account
  1. Scroll down and tap “Web & App Activity.”
Web and app activity option inside data and privacy settings
  1. When it opens, click “Turn off.”
Option to turn off web and app activity

You can select “Turn off (1 step)” or “Turn off and delete activity (3 steps).”

Both options do the same thing: turn off web and app tracking.  

  1. Afterward, go back to the “Data & Privacy” dashboard and click on “Location History.”
Location history option in the data and privacy settings
  1. This feature is usually turned off by default upon creating a Google account. But you can still check to be sure it is turned off
Option to turn off location history of the Google account

Uninstall Any Hidden Spyware Or Spy Phone Apps 

Spyware is malware used to track people’s phones and online activities. They can be downloaded from the Google Play store or App Store. So, it is possible your child may have accidentally installed one or more. Now, it’s your job to uninstall them. 

Don’t worry, I learned a few ways you can discover and uninstall hidden spy phone apps on an Android device. If your child uses an iPhone, you’ll know that Apple products are more secure than other mobile phones. But, you can still try one or two of the steps below to tie up any loose ends:

  1. Check for any unusual apps and delete them without hesitation.
  2. Use Google Play Protect—Android’s built-in malware protection tool—to perform an antivirus scan and find potentially harmful applications
  3. Update your system software.
  4. As a counterattack, install free anti-spyware apps to help detect and prevent spy apps from tracking your child’s activities. 

Use A Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Safe to say, I saved the best for the last. A virtual private network is a service that encrypts internet traffic and IP addresses and routes them through a server in another location to avoid identification. A VPN can protect your child’s privacy by making it almost impossible for third parties to track their online activities

I learned that all you need to do is download one, set it up on a specific mobile device, and make it available for your child whenever they want to access the internet. And I know you’re already wondering which VPN to use. Here are three VPNs I tested and thus recommend for Android and Apple devices (in no particular order):

  1. AtlasVPN – Budget-friendly internet privacy provider that accommodates unlimited device connections.  
  2. ExpressVPN – Top private network with a wide range of features and options for protecting your device and traffic—no location tracking or phone tracking.  
  3. NordVPN – The game changer and widely-used VPN for preventing phone tracking and ensuring maximum internet privacy. 

Comparison Table For Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) Used For Preventing Phone Tracking 

Let’s briefly compare the VPNs I mentioned above so you can weigh your options and make a pick.

NameKey Features PricingOur Rating
NordVPN 1. Malware protection
2. Free trial
3. Encryption
4. Dark web monitoring
5. Servers in 59 countries 
$14.99/month9.5/10
ExpressVPN1. Kill Switch
2. 30-day money-back guarantee
3. Great for home use and user-friendly
4. 24/7 customer support
5. Servers in over 100 countries
$12.95/month 9.2/10
AtlasVPN 1. Cost-effective
2. Allows simultaneous connections
3. Blocks malicious websites
4. 30-day money-back guarantee
5. Free trial for both mobile phone and desktop users
$11.99/month8.7/10

FAQs

Can my phone be tracked if location services is off?

Your phone can be tracked if your location services is off. Cell towers can access it and collect tracking information if you are connected to a mobile network or have an active SIM card in your mobile phone.

How do I stop being tracked?

You can stop being tracked by using a virtual private network (VPN) or turning off your location. Doing any of this will help keep your online activities hidden from third-party apps and sites.

Does changing the IMEI number make a phone untraceable?

Changing the IMEI number makes a phone untraceable because the phone’s identity changes alongside. However, changing the IMEI number of mobile phones is illegal in most countries. So, tread with caution.

Make Surfing The Internet Safe For Young Ones

Everything I have discussed above is focused on making the internet safe for underaged users. Instead of shutting your child out of the digital world for fear of online vices, you can implement these options above and create a safe place for them. Getting a VPN is an excellent place to start, based on my experience.  

If you want an affordable VPN, AtlasVPN might rock your boat. Likewise, if you don’t mind paying more for sophistication, NordVPN is your go-to. But if you want something relatively affordable that still caters to your basic security needs, I think ExpressVPN could be a good fit

Overall, I hope you enjoyed reading this guide as much as I loved sharing my knowledge. Thankfully, you can always come back to refresh your understanding of the topic. I’d also love to read your thoughts and questions about the article in the comment section. Share this guide across different platforms so others can read and learn.

About The Authors

  • Raji Oluwaniyi

    With over 7 years in the tech industry, Oluwaniyi has transitioned from being a mere tech enthusiast to becoming a seasoned technical writer. He began writing in 2019, and has worked with esteemed tech blogs, including MakeUseOf, PrivacySavvy, and TestGorilla. Furthermore, his career reflects his desire and ability to help people navigate the tech landscape with technical pieces, including user guides and product documentations. In his free time, you can find him diving into tech newsletters or going for evening rides. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

  • Jenn Peters

    Jenn Peters is an experienced content manager and editor who holds a degree in English and certifications in Social Media Marketing and Copywriting from the College of Media and Publishing. She has been working for TechUntold since 2018. In addition, Jenn works as a content editor for Valnet across 7 company sites, publishing numerous articles weekly. Connect with Jenn on LinkedIn.

Photo of author

Raji Oluwaniyi

With over 7 years in the tech industry, Oluwaniyi has transitioned from being a mere tech enthusiast to becoming a seasoned technical writer. He began writing in 2019, and has worked with esteemed tech blogs, including MakeUseOf, PrivacySavvy, and TestGorilla. Furthermore, his career reflects his desire and ability to help people navigate the tech landscape with technical pieces, including user guides and product documentations. In his free time, you can find him diving into tech newsletters or going for evening rides. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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