We may not like to admit it, but our smartphones are our one-stop communication hub for our entire lives. Having your phone die on you in the middle of the day is a scary thing, but straight up losing it is practically a tragedy. With summer day trips and all the awesome outdoor activities that come along with warm weather, your chances of misplacing your phone rise in a big way, but there’s something you can do to up the chances of recovering it if you find yourself phone-less.
Keeping your phone locked and secured with a passcode, fingerprint, or facial recognition help deter thieves, but it also makes it much harder for someone to return your phone to you if you ever lose it. How will they ever know it’s yours if they can’t browse the contacts list and try to hunt you down?
A new study by consumer tech services company Asurion shows that putting your contact info on your lock screen increases the chances of recovering your lost smartphone but more than 50%.
It’s super easy to do: Take whatever photo you want to use as your lock screen background and stick it in Instagram’s Story tool or even Snapchat’s photo editor. There you can add text to the photo, like your address, email, or other contact info, and save it back to your phone. Set your new, customized photo as your wallpaper and if you ever lose it, the person that finds it will have all the necessary info to return it to its rightful owner.
Asurion ran a number of experiments to see just how well this handy little trick works. They intentionally “misplaced” smartphones in bustling public areas of three major US cities: Atlanta, New York City, and Los Angeles. Half of the “lost” phones had the contact info on the screen, while the other half didn’t, but were unlocked with the owner’s contact info in the phone’s address book. They found that the phones with the contact info on the lock screen were 50% more likely to be promptly returned than those that were unlocked, without the information clearly visible.
Obviously, this handy tip doesn’t eliminate the usefulness of the built-in phone locator features on iOS and Android, and you should always have those GPS-linked tools enabled for the best chance of recovering a lost (or, heaven forbid, stolen) device.