More than half of us have lost our mobile phone or had it stolen, study finds



  • More than half (56%) of Brits have lost or had a mobile phone stolen in their lifetime, according to new study
  • Brits aged 25 to 34 are the most likely to lose a mobile phone, with 78% having lost at least one handset
  • Over three-quarters (79%) of UK residents estimate that the loss of a handset has cost them up to £500
  • Public transport is the most likely location to lose your mobile phone, with 35% of phones lost there

More than half of UK residents have reported losing a mobile phone or having one stolen throughout their lifetime, according to new research from, the comparison and switching service. surveyed 2,000 UK mobile phone owners to determine the frequency of which Brits misplace their mobile phones. The study also uncovered the average costs incurred and common locations to lose phones. 

How many mobile phones have you lost, or had stolen, in your lifetime?

Option Respondents % of Total Respondents
None 889 44%
One 747 37%
Two 274 14%
Three 48 2%
Four 23 1%
Five or more 19 1%
Total 2,000 100%


More than half (56%) of Brits reported that they have lost or had at least one mobile phone stolen in their lifetime. While 37% of respondents reported losing a mobile phone in their lifetime, almost one in five (18%) admitted to having misplaced more than one handset.

Belfast has been revealed as the city with the most common phone losses, with three in four (75%) residents reporting to have lost phones in their lifetime. This compares to Norwich which reported the lowest, at just 38%.

Northern Ireland has been revealed as the UK region whose residents are the most likely to report having lost at least one mobile phone (75%). The South East of England is the second most likely, with 59% of respondents reporting they had lost at least one mobile phone.

How much do you estimate losing mobile phone handsets has cost you?

Response Responders % of total responders
Nothing 70 6%
£1 to £250 492 44%
£251 to £500 318 29%
£501 to £750 145 13%
£751 to £1,000 59 5%
More than £1,000 27 2%
Total 1,111  


Of those who have lost a mobile phone or had one stolen, 44% reported an estimated cost of up to £250. 29% estimated that their lost phones cost them between £251 and £500, while 13% estimated costs between £501 and £750.

Which of the following places have you lost a mobile phone at?

Option Respondents % of Total Respondents
Restaurant/bar 290 26%
Shop 308 28%
Public transport 393 35%
Taxi 163 15%
Work 129 12%
School 43 4%
Other (please specify) 133 12%
Total 1,111 100%


Public transport is revealed as the most likely location to lose a mobile phone in the UK. Of those who have lost a phone or had one stolen, 35% reported that it happened on public transport. This was closely followed by a shop (28%) and a restaurant or bar (26%). mobile expert, Rehan Ali comments:

“With over a half of Brits admitting to having lost their mobile in the past, it is important to put the necessary protection in place in case your device is lost or stolen in future.

“Firstly, make sure your device is secure by setting a screen lock and locking your phone whenever you stop using it. Fingerprint scanners or long passwords with a mix of numbers, letters and special characters are the safest options to prevent anyone from accessing your phone.

“You should also set a PIN code for your SIM card. This means that if your SIM is entered into another device, it can’t be used without the pin number.

“Once your device is password protected, ensure your phone can be tracked and accessed remotely. To do so, turn on Find my Device on Android or Find My iPhone on IOS. Doing this will allow you to erase your data from your phone if it’s lost or stolen.

“You should also make sure your device is set up to regularly back up your data to prevent you from losing any cherished photos or important documents and messages. You can find this option in your device settings on Android or iCloud settings on IOS.

“Losing your phone can also cost your bank account. Therefore, if you have taken a phone out on contract or have invested in an expensive handset, it is always worth taking out smartphone insurance.

“Opting for a SIM Only deal as opposed to a contracted phone is also beneficial as, if you lose your device, you can easily switch your SIM to a new phone or cancel your contract as they are often rolling deals. If you are interested in switching to SIM Only, make sure you compare SIM Only deals before you buy to get the best option at the best price for you”. mobile expert, Rehan Ali shares his tips on how to protect yourself against losing a handset and what to do if you end up losing it: 

  1. Try to locate your phone – It’s always worth calling your number from another phone, in case you get lucky and an honest member of the public has found it. If no one answers, it’s worth sending a text including a contact number for anyone who happens to pick it up at a later date. You should also try calling any establishments you have visited and the local police station to see if your device has been handed in.
  2. Track your device – One huge benefit of today’s smartphone technology is the ability to track your phone. For iPhone users, you can use Find My iPhone, and for Android, you can use the Android Device Manager to do so. However, to access this service you will need to have set these functions up before your phone goes missing. 
  3. Report to your network provider – When you lose your mobile phone, you should report it to your network provider immediately. Your provider will be able to deactivate your SIM, preventing anyone else from misusing your number. If you manage to relocate your handset, your provider will also be able to reactivate it for you.
  4. Report to the police – If you believe your device to be stolen, it is important to report the theft to the police. They will require the make and model, serial number and IMEI, MEID or ESN number of your handset. Although you are still unlikely to receive your phone back if stolen, it provides the necessary documentation to show to your insurer. It also means that if your device is handed in, you will be notified immediately.
  5. Erase your phone’s data remotely – Using Android Device Manager or iCloud, you can erase personal data present on your mobile remotely. This will help protect your personal information if your device falls into the wrong hands. You can also unlink your accounts on your iPhone using iCloud.
  6. Change your passwords – It is also worth changing any passwords to accounts you keep logged in on your mobile phone to ensure these cannot be accessed. Important passwords to change include your email, social media accounts, mobile banking, shopping apps and streaming apps. 
Chris Price
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