How to use Lockwatch, an app that “takes a picture of the thief”

The Lockwatch gained some prominence as the application “that takes pictures of the intruders,” without charge for monitoring cell phone unlock attempts with the wrong password. Basically, the app activates the smartphone’s front camera to take a photo silently when someone tries to unlock the device with the wrong code.

The photo of the intruder – thief, curious or jealous – is sent to your e-mail along with the GPS location of the device, at the time of the attempt, without the author knowing.


According to the developers, the app has already been able to successfully identify hundreds of thieves around the world and has helped to recover another hundreds of lost phones. But, how does it work? Lockwatch has two versions: free and paid.

What Lockwatch can do for free

  • Capture a photo secretly using the front camera when someone tries to unlock your phone with the wrong code (only in this situation);
  • Send an email with the photo taken above, GPS coordinates and a map;
  • The thief will not know that he is being recorded;
  • The app is very small (less than 1 MB) and consumes no battery;
  • It is only executed when a wrong unlock code is entered.

According to Lockwatch, in order to work, each attempt to unlock must have at least four digits or dots (in the case of the pattern). If the person enters fewer digits and stops, it will not count as a failed unlock attempt.

What do I have to pay to use Lockwatch

Additional features are only available if you make an in-app purchase that costs about $12.99. Once purchased, you don’t have to pay anything else.

  • SIM card exchange detection: Lockwatch sends an email if someone inserts a new SIM card in the phone. The email will include the phone number of the new SIM and the subscriber ID (if possible). It is operator data on the SIM;
  • Sending e-mail when connected: if the thief turns off your phone and only calls when you are at home, you will be informed of your new location;
  • Capture multiple photos: instead of just one photo per attempt, Lockwatch takes three photos, with a second interval between them, to have more angles of the face;
  • Sound clip recording: will record a 20-second audio file using the phone’s microphone. It does this while taking pictures and obtaining the GPS location.

How to use Lockwatch

  1. Go to and download Lockwatch;
  2. Once this is done, authorize the app to access: camera, location and contacts;
  3. The application will request an email to send alerts and photos;
  4. Activate the “Send alert email” key and wait.

To test if everything is working, wait at least 10 seconds before entering the correct code and unlocking the phone. Otherwise, Lockwatch will discard the email. This avoids sending alerts if the user just made a mistake and then got it right.

The application uses the Device Administrator permission to monitor attempts to unlock the screen. It may be necessary to authorize access when configuring.

What happens if someone mistakes their password many times?

Nothing. Android warns that Lockwatch can “erase all data on the phone”. This is due to a permission that Lockwatch uses to monitor incorrect unlock attempts. But the app has no function to delete everything.

How to uninstall Lockwatch

  1. Open Lockwatch;
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the first tab (General);
  3. Tap the last help tip to disable and uninstall Lockwatch.

Not everything is flowers

There is still no version of Lockwatch for iPhone (iOS) and some complaints about the app on the Google Play Store, the Android store, are quite pertinent.

Android does not allow applications to use GPS if it has been disabled by the user himself. You need to leave the GPS on so that Lockwatch can use it when needed. There is nothing the app can do until Android changes this rule.

Once the attempt to unlock is made on the move, the location of the theft or robbery will not be permanent. To find out where the phone was connected, again, it is necessary to pay for the premium version. Never try to recover a stolen smartphone yourself, hand this information over to the city police.

There are reports that the app is unable to stay active in the background and is terminated by Android after some time on the unused smartphone, rendering the app useless. Other apps with similar function ask for permission to overlay apps on Android, something that consumes more battery, for keeping the app always active.

To keep emails from stopping in the spam box, check this folder and mark them as “Not spam” so that they are delivered to your Gmail inbox.

There are many users who are also unhappy with the purchase of the premium version and the malfunction of sending emails and other resources. The app’s rating, however, is 4.6.

Do you have other options?

Various. Lockwatch is not the only one that takes pictures in an attempt to unlock the phone. Some “spy apps” do this even in other situations, just at your command. We have already talked about some of them here. Below, I share some useful articles about it.