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Will "Find My iPhone" stop working?

540 Views 3 Replies Latest reply: Dec 15, 2011 10:13 AM by ÜberMacHead RSS
ÜberMacHead Level 3 Level 3 (655 points)
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Dec 15, 2011 9:28 AM

A friend of mine just got an AT&T iPhone 3GS from her boyfriend who just upgraded to an iPhone 4S. She reset the iPhone to factory condition, upgraded iOS to version 5, then borrowed my old AT&T SIM card to 'register' the iPhone (get it past the "No SIM Card" message). She's now using it as a glorified iPod touch.


I recommended that she use "Find My iPhone" (FMI) as she's the type of person who tends to leave behind her personal electronics. We registered the iPhone to her Apple ID and verified that it works, at least in minimal testing. It correctly locates the iPhone in her home despite not having a SIM card. (Presumably it's using her home's wifi location, or perhaps FMI works even without a SIM card.)


Then she asked me a curious question that I don't have an answer for. Her boyfriend had previously registered this iPhone under his Apple ID and now she registered it with her Apple ID. Can one iPhone be tracked by two Apple IDs, particuarly if the iPhone has since been completely reset and the OS upgraded?


I believe FMI works by tying Apple IDs to iPhone and since her iPhone is no longer tied to her boyfriend's Apple ID he will no longer be able to track it. She counters this by saying this would be an incredibly weak way to protect the location of an iPhone against thieves.


She thinks it must track by Apple ID *and* iPhone serial number. Otherwise all a thief would need to do is turn off FMI and/or reregister it under a different Apple ID. My counterargument to that is if it was tracked by serial number than a large number of people who have bought or sold used iPhones would be able to track a huge number of stranger's movements and surely such a thing would have been brought to light already.


Who is right? Is her iPhone now "hers" or can her boyfriend track it too?


(And yes, I already told her to check it out with her boyfriend but she doesn't want to. I suspect they're not going to be in this relationship for much longer.)


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