How to Determine the GPS Location of a Cell Phone

By Colleen Collins

It’s possible to track the GPS (Global Positioning System) location of most cell phones whether or not a cell phone has a GPS device installed in it. Cell phone carriers locate cell phones through a calculation of signals called “triangulation” that calculates signal distances from cell towers to cell phones. If a cell phone doesn't have a GPS device already installed, for a fee, cell phone owners can either purchase a GPS-enabling service that uses triangulation from their carrier or a third-party GPS service.

Things You'll Need

  • Cell phone or mobile device

Step 1

Purchase a GPS tracking service from your carrier. Contact your cell phone carrier customer service (a phone number is typically on the home page of the carrier’s website) and request to add GPS tracking to your service contract. Most carriers can add this service over the phone, after which they'll direct you to their website for further instructions on setting up and using the GPS features. There is usually a set-up charge and an ongoing monthly fee for this service.

Step 2

Purchase a third-party GPS service. AccuTracking offers this service, which lets you view the GPS location of a cell phone on your cell phone or computer, among other features. To see a demo of how AccuTracking works, which cell phones it supports and to sign up for the service, go to the AccuTracking website (

Step 3

View a GPS location through Google Latitude. There is no charge for using Google Latitude, a GPS-tracking service that employs Google maps technology to identify cell phone locations. After a cell phone owner accepts your invitation to be tracked, you can view the person’s location (via their cell phone) on your phone or computer, as well as maintain a tracking history, control tracking levels and more.

Step 4

Purchase a GPS-enabled phone and service through AmberWatch Foundation. This charity focuses on the prevention of child abduction and molestation. They offer recommendations and easy search options for cell phones and GPS tracking services, features and plans. You can also purchase phones and services directly from their website (

Tips & Warnings

  • GPS tracking does not work on cell phones when they’re turned off.
  • Unless you are the owner of a cell phone, don’t download tracking spyware on it without the person’s permission. Unauthorized use of spyware on a cell phone sets you up for federal and state felony wiretapping charges.