You have decided to use phone tracking services to be able to retrieve your mobile device in case of loss or theft, to monitor your children/family and/or to save time and effort by tracking friends and co-workers, with their permission of course. Irrespective of your reasons, you are on the hunt for the best mobile phone tracker in the UK. Use this unbiased review of the three major service providers (Lociloci, FollowUs and MobileLocate/ChildLocate) to make a well-informed choice.
Lociloci has developed a GSM tracking technology which collects and computes data from mobile network transmission masts to locate mobile phones. If the device is a smartphone which has a GPS chip, GPS data is also used for greater accuracy of the results.
The company launched its service in 2007 in Sweden, Norway and Finland, and has done the same in the UK in the spring of 2012. It’s the only international mobile locator in the UK market with prior experience of mobile tracking on other markets. In total, the company claims it has over 10,000 active users across Scandinavia and the UK.
In general, the accuracy of a mobile device’s location is around 100 meters in urban areas, and over 500 meters in rural areas. This is the same quality as with FollowUs and MobileLocate.
The company works with all major mobile networks in the UK except with 3. The services which it offers are available to all mobile phone users irrespective of the make, brand, model and year of production of the devices. The services are readily available to anyone who needs to track their family members, colleagues, employees, business associates and their own device in case of loss or theft.
The Lociloci maps for identifying the location of people that you know have excellent graphics and functionality. When you log on to the website, a map will automatically open and you will see all the people on your tracking list on it. The system presents their latest location so a special search may not be required. Lociloci takes advantage of the Google Maps API to do this.
It is really easy to register for an account as the website is very user-friendly. To track phones via Google Maps is also very intuitive and is by far much more easier and usable than with MobileLocate and FollowUs. The websites breathes design and simplicity. Lociloci is also adapted for viewing over any phone – it is equally intuitive for viewing over the mobile as is on the web. Just imagine you are on the go and need know where you friend or family member is right now. Log in on your phone and you will get his/her location instantly.
The Lociloci website has the highest commercially available encryption (SSL) which guarantees the privacy of subscribers and their searches. The website is hacker safe just like FollowUs, and follows and goes beyond the best practices when it comes to storing personal and location data.
Just like with all GSM tracking services in the UK, the company can track a mobile only after the owner’s consent, which is received via a text message (need be given only once). A person can terminate their consent at any time. Reminders are sent to all owners of tracked phones on a regular basis.
Pricing: £4.99/month, no contracts, cancel any time (unlimited locations)
Lociloci has a fixed monthly subscription fee of £4.99 (you are not bound by contract and can cancel at any time).
Tip! You get a considerable reduction in price if you subscribe for a whole year, just contact their support.
For the monthly fee that you pay, during the month you can make an unlimited number of tracks (credits) and can add unlimited number of phones or unlimited number of people to invite. You can track as many people as you want without paying any extra fee. This is certainly the best mobile locator when it comes to pricing if tracking is important to you, especially if you are a heavy user of such services, Lociloci is definately a much more cost-effective choice.
FollowUs has been around on the UK market since 2003 offering both GSM and GPS tracking technology to locate mobile phones (GPS devices are sold seperately).
The accuracy of their main mobile phone tracking service using GSM is around 100 meters in urban areas and over 500 meters in less populated areas (read more about GSM technology to understand how location is determined).
The company supports all major GSM networks in the UK except operator 3.
You can choose from both business and home packages. The home packages are more basic, but this does not mean that they cannot be the best mobile locator packages for you. With such a package, you can track mobile phones from the website of the company. With a business plan, you can use scheduled tracking. You can track the history of the locations of each person that you follow.
What seperates FollowUs from the rest of the mobile locators in the UK is that they use a pay-as-you-go pricing strategy. Read Pricing section below for more info.
With FollowUs, you get to use multiple scale maps which make identifying the precise location of a mobile easy and quick. The service can be used from computers with internet connection and from telephone supporting WAP browsing.
The site and map interface are not compatible or designed for viewing on modern phones, nor do the maps look so pleasing to the eye. The design of the site is outdated and the usability can be improved to cater for a nicer browsing experience.
The company states that they follow the industry standard code of practice for security. They request permission from mobile phone users to be tracked by the service subscribers. The tracked persons can opt out of this at any time. In addition, tracking can be banned temporarily in the evenings and on weekends if required. This is a nice feature the other two locators lack.
It is also worth noting that there are a handful of companies in the UK using FollowUs to see over their employees location – for their safety.
Pricing: min. £20 credit package, pay-as-you-go (limited locations)
FollowUS is a pay-as-you-go service for home users. No monthly plans, no contracts. You can sign up for free, but to track a mobile phone device you need to buy track credits.
FollowUs offers different packages to home and business users. Each package has a set price.
For Home Users, the smallest package is priced at £20 (minimum package fee). For this price, you receive a fixed number of search credits, in this case 40 track credits (£0.5 per track). There are no time limits on the use of the search credits. For each new mobile phone that you add to your tracking list, you are charged a fixed one-time fee of 5 tracks i.e. £2.5.
There is also a large package for £49.99, where you get 150 tracks (i.e. £0.33 per track).
MobileLocate & ChildLocate go under the same organisation and both are based on a GSM tracking technology. They work with all of the main mobile networks in the country except 3. They estimate that the accuracy of their search results is on average 150 metres in urban areas and significantly worse in rural areas.
For MobileLocate.co.uk you can choose from different packages provided by the company. However, be aware that the packages you are buying are charged annually, not monthly as it may appear.
The MobileLocate maps are detailed, but the graphic quality is not as high as that of the maps of competitors. Apart from locating people via searches, you will be able to send text messages to the individuals that you can track directly from the company’s website. The text messaging service is paid.
The company states that they follow all industry standards for privacy and security. They require permission for tracking. They send frequent reminders to the tracked individuals. Just like with Lociloci and FollowsUs.
Pricing: £15/month charged as £180 annually (limited locations)
MobileLocate.co.uk offer a 30-day free trial, however if you do not actively cancel your subscription within the first 30 days of your registration, you will be automatically charged on your credit card.
Beware! The monthly subscription is actually paid annually not monthly, and you get a limited of 50 tracks per month (you need to buy more track credits in addition to the annual fee if you surpass the 50 tracks per month).
Like mentioned earlier, you will need to conjure up a whopping £180 if you do NOT unregister/unsubscribe during the 30-day free trial. Many users have complained about the misleading communication on the website related to the cancellation fees that mount to £75 i.e. if you wish to cancel after the 30 day trial period. Neither Lociloci or FollowUs have cancellation fees. There have been a number of negative reviews about the MobileLocate.co.uk service on TrustPilot.co.uk, and we have seen the same happen to us when we forgot to unregister from the service after the 30 day trial period. Unless you are not careful here and do not want to be bound for 12 months after the trial period, stay away from this company.
You have all the information you need to choose the best mobile locator. Before you make up your mind, you can readily get more technical details on GSM tracking if you wish.
Major benefits of GSM mobile phone tracking technology
- Works with all phones. No need for the locatee or locator to own the latest smartphone model, with latest software – it works with any phone.
- No extra equipment required other than you own phone. With GPS devices you will need to buy a device for specially tracking with GPS accuracy (usually around 25 meters accuracy or more).
- No installations, now download. You are up and running in just a few minutes, as all services are on-demand.
UK regulation on mobile phone tracking
All three mobile phone locators follow strict UK regulation on mobile phone tracking, safeguarding against unlawful use. This means that:
- Consent is required to track a mobile phone i.e. it cannot be done in secret.
- Frequent reminders are sent out to all being tracked, reminding them that they are a part of the service.
- PIN in the POST verification. As a locator of any device using GSM tehcnology you are required to submit your home address details to verify who you are (users must be over the age of 18). This is done by sending you a PIN (unique Personal Indentification Number) by letter which you need to enter online to authorise your account for tracking possibilities. Before that, you will not be able to track other people’s phones.