Norton Mobile Security – Lost Phone Finder (for iPhone) review

Though it's hampered by the restrictions of iOS, Norton Mobile Security is a slick, simple product that can help keep your phone safe.
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When it comes to mobile security for iOS, we let Apple do most of the heavy lifting. The walled garden app store has kept most malware out, and the powerful features of Find My iPhone can help recover a lost or stolen device. Part of Norton 360 Multi-Device ($69.99 per year for five devices), Norton Mobile Security lets you access critical iPhone security features from a single interface and will also back up your contacts to the cloud. These are good features, but they’re just not as useful as the ones Apple already provides.

Anti-Theft Features
Once installed, you can login into the Norton Mobile web portal and perform one of three actions to help find and return a lost iPhone. You can remotely trigger a scream, which plays the irritating klaxon tone for about 30 seconds at top volume. In my tests, this was a truly grating 99 decibels. That’s enough to find a phone in a messy room, or startle a thief.

You can also locate your iPhone remotely through the Norton website, and view the current whereabouts of your device on a Google Maps map. Norton will show you either the current location of your device, or previous locations to help track its movements. I did notice that Norton Mobile wasn’t as accurate as its Android counterpart, which I chalk up to connection issues on my iPhone 5c.

Norton Mobile also has the ability to call your phone, though it comes with a big caveat: your phone must either be currently unlocked or not secured with a passcode (please, please, please set a passcode on your iPhone). When activated, a screen appears on the iPhone informing its current possessor that the owner is attempting to call the device. If they press OK, you’ll be connected for five minutes of talk time. Obviously, you’ll need a computer with functioning speakers and microphone to make this work.

Norton only brings one unique feature to the table—the ability to call your phone from a computer—and it’s really not as useful as calling your phone from another phone. Apple’s existing anti-theft features are more powerful, and also provide access to all of your Apple devices from iCloud.com. Norton, however, can let you manage anti-theft options for all (or most) of your mobile devices regardless of their operating system.

Backup To The Cloud
From the Norton Mobile app, you can back up your contacts to the cloud or restore your contacts from an existing backup. Uploading information takes only seconds, and I was impressed that restoring from a backup gave me the option to overwrite my existing contacts or simply amend them with information already stored in the cloud.

From the Norton Mobile web portal, you can view your uploaded contact information or download a CSV file containing all your contacts. Unfortunately, you can only trigger a back up or restore from your phone, not from the website like you can with some Android security apps. Also, your contacts’ pictures will be stripped away when sent to the cloud and won’t reappear—even after you’ve restored your contacts to your phone through Norton.

For a complete and automatic backup of your iOS device, take advantage of the built-in iCloud backup option. This will copy the contents of your device when you’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your computer and when your iPhone has been asleep for a while. Also, iCloud can give you easy web access to documents, contacts, and other critical information from your phone.

One Interface To Rule Them All
I was very impressed with the Norton 360 web interface, which let me easily find and install the relevant iPhone app. It also quickly identified when I had installed the software on my phone, giving me immediate access to all my devices from one website.

Well, sort of. If you want to do anything with your mobile devices, you actually get booted out of the Norton 360 website and into the Norton Mobile website. This is only a mild annoyance, but it does undercut the whole idea of a “single” interface for your mobile devices and PCs. I’d really like to see a future version of the web portal redesigned to be a one-stop shop and not just a quick (though well-designed and user friendly) layover.

Norton or Not?
I’ll let my colleague Neil Rubenking discuss the relative merits of Norton 360 Multi-Device, but I have to say that the Norton offering on iPhone is a little slim. While these are critical features, they’re also features that are executed better by existing Apple services. McAfee, on the other hand, provides its subscribers with the SafeKey password manager and the ultra-secure Personal Locker.

Taken on its own merits, Norton Mobile Security provides useful tools for iPhone users and earns three and a half out of five stars. But the real benefit is bringing all your devices together in Norton 360 Multi-Device. Whether that’s worth it is up to you. 


Verdict
Though it's hampered by the restrictions of iOS, Norton Mobile Security is a slick, simple product that can help keep your phone safe.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
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