iPhone Location Services
iPhone Location Services

The ability to locate a lost or misplaced iPhone is a valuable feature that many users rely on. However, a common question arises: Can you still find your iPhone if its location services are turned off?

Even if location services are turned off, it doesn’t mean that your phone becomes completely invisible. While turning off location services might prevent certain apps from accessing your location, your service provider still has a general idea of your phone’s whereabouts based on cell tower triangulation. However, this method is not as accurate as GPS-based location services.

Let’s go over what we know about location services and finding your iPhone.

Understanding iPhone’s Location Services

What are Location Services?

Location Services on an iPhone allows apps and websites to gather and use information based on the current location of your iPhone. This feature is beneficial for apps like maps, weather, and, importantly, “Find My iPhone.”

How Does “Find My iPhone” Work?

“Find My iPhone” is a built-in feature on iOS devices that helps users locate their lost or misplaced iPhones. When enabled, it uses the device’s GPS and internet connection to pinpoint its exact location on a map. This feature also allows users to play a sound, lock the device, or erase its data remotely.

How functional is “Find My iPhone” when location services are disabled? The consensus is that “Find My iPhone” will not continue to work if location services are completely turned off. However, if “Lost Mode” is enabled, location services will be temporarily re-enabled to locate the device.

Challenges with Location Turned Off

Implications for “Find My iPhone”

If Location Services is turned off, “Find My iPhone” won’t be able to provide the exact location of the device. However, it can still perform other functions like playing a sound, marking it as lost, or erasing its data.

Apple’s Official Stance

Apple’s support page emphasizes the importance of location services for various features. For the “Find My” feature, if location services are turned off, the ability to locate your device on a map is disabled. However, if you had enabled “Find My” before the device was lost and the device goes into “Lost Mode,” location services can be re-enabled temporarily to locate the device.

A user in the Apple Community Discussions inquired about finding an iPhone 8 Plus that was turned off. The response highlighted that if “Find My” was not turned on before the device was lost or stolen, it cannot be used to locate the device. If the device is offline, it won’t play a sound until it connects to a network. Additionally, even if the iPhone is switched off, it can still be traceable under certain conditions. For instance, if the device’s battery has run out or if it’s powered off, the device’s location might not be available if more than 24 hours have passed since its last known location was sent to Apple.

Alternative Methods to Locate

  1. Last Known Location: Even if the location is turned off, “Find My iPhone” might show the last known location for a limited time.
  2. Wi-Fi & Bluetooth: If the device is connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, it might provide a general idea of its location.
  3. Family Sharing: If you have Family Sharing set up, another family member might help locate the device if it’s nearby.
  4. Using An AirTag: You can use an Airtag to track your iPhone (tuck it away in the case) as a backup method to find your phone in case it is turned off.

Steps to Take if You Can’t Find Your iPhone

Immediate Actions

  1. Play Sound: Use “Find My iPhone” to play a sound on your device. This is helpful if it’s nearby.
  2. Mark as Lost: This will lock your device and display a custom message with a contact number.
  3. Report Lost or Stolen: Inform your local law enforcement and provide them with the device’s details.

Long-Term Precautions

  1. Regularly Backup: Ensure you back up your iPhone regularly to prevent data loss.
  2. Enable “Send Last Location”: This feature sends the device’s location to Apple when the battery is critically low.
  3. Stay Updated: Always keep your iOS updated to benefit from the latest security features.


While turning off Location Services might affect the efficiency of “Find My iPhone,” there are still ways to potentially locate or secure your device. It’s essential to be proactive by understanding these features and taking precautions to ensure the safety of both your iPhone and the data it holds.

Turning off location services will provide you with a greater sense of privacy and you’ll get that to a certain degree. It can hinder the ability to precisely locate a lost iPhone using the “Find My” feature and make locating you more difficult – but not entirely impossible. Apple has implemented measures, like the “Lost Mode,” to assist users/law enforcement in such scenarios. It’s always recommended to keep the “Find My” feature enabled, especially if you’re prone to misplacing your device.


  1. Can “Find My iPhone” work without Location Services?
    • It won’t show the exact location, but other features like playing a sound or marking it as lost will still work.
  2. How long will “Find My iPhone” show the last known location?
    • It displays the last known location for up to 24 hours.
  3. Is there a way to turn on Location Services remotely?
    • No, you cannot remotely turn on Location Services if it’s turned off.
  4. What should I do if I think my iPhone is stolen?
    • Mark it as lost using “Find My iPhone,” report it to the police, and inform your service provider.
  5. Can someone use my iPhone if I mark it as lost?
    • No, marking it as lost will lock the device, making it unusable until it’s unlocked with the correct credentials.
Eric Chan

Hi! I’m Eric and I work on the knowledge base at GadgetMates.com.  You can see some of my writings about technology, cellphone repair, and computer repair here.

When I’m not writing about tech I’m playing with my dog or hanging out with my girlfriend.

Shoot me a message at ericchan@gadgetmates.com if you want to see a topic discussed or have a correction on something I’ve written.

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