You might have heard of the term “IMEI number” numerous times and chances are, you have heard of it while buying a new phone, selling your older phone or when you are reporting a case of your phone being lost. Well, if you have wondered about what exactly is this IMEI number, we are here to tell you all about it. So, let’s begin, shall we?
What is IMEI number?
IMEI number aka International Mobile Station Equipment Identity number is a unique 15 or 16-digit identity number assigned to mobile phones with a GSM, UMTS or LTE modem. The number includes information on the origin, model number and the unique serial number of the device. The initial 8 digits comprise of details around the origin and model number while the rest of the digits are decided by the device manufacturer.
IMEI is attached to the modem in the device, so if a mobile phone features dual SIM functionality, it will feature two unique IMEI numbers for the dual modems used. Along with IMEI numbers, there are other identity standards for mobile devices like ESN and MEID, so let’s take a look at how they are different:
IMEI vs MEID vs ESN: What’s the difference?
The common ground between IMEI, MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier) and ESN (Electronic Serial Number) is the fact that they are all device identifiers. Chances are, you haven’t heard of ESN and that’s because it has been phased out a long time ago, with its last assignment being back in 2010. ESNs were previously used with AMPS and TDMA devices along with the occasional use on CDMA devices.
Coming to MEID, it was developed to be a superset to IMEI and as a replacement to ESN. MEID and IMEI are very similar identifiers and basically, MEID is IMEI with hexadecimal 14 digits. However, MEID has catered mostly to devices using a CDMA modem, while IMEI to GSM devices.
Different ways to find IMEI
There are various different ways to find your device’s IMEI number. The method remains the same on different smartphone platforms (Android, iOS, Windows, BlackBerry etc.) and feature phones, except for a few exceptions. So, here are the different ways:
Through USSD code
Dialing *#06# brings up the IMEI number on all feature phones and smartphones. Just go to the dialer, enter the USSD code and the IMEI number should pop up. However, this method does not work on Windows Phone devices.
In Phone Settings
All the platforms let you view your device’s IMEI number in the Settings page. On Android, you can find the IMEI details in Settings->About phone->Status->IMEI information. On an iPhone, you can find the info in Settings->General->About and on Windows Phone, the IMEI details are located in Settings->About.
On the Phone’s back or Battery
If your device has a removable battery, you can be sure of finding your device’s IMEI number printed on the battery. Also, some smartphones like the iPhone come with the IMEI number engraved on the back while most other devices come with a sticker on the back, which has IMEI info printed. Moreover, some devices like the iPhone also have the IMEI number printed on the SIM tray, so you can check out there too.
Retail box or Bill
You can be assured to have your device’s IMEI number printed on its retail box and the bill as well. So, if for some reason, you are not able to find your device’s IMEI number, looking at the bill or the retail box should be a good idea.
Using Google Dashboard (Android only)
If you have an Android smartphone, you can check your device’s IMEI number online over at the Google Dashboard page. Simply login with the Google account you use on your smartphone and tap on the Android section, which will list all devices connected to your account along with details like IMEI number.
Using iTunes (iOS only)
You can check your iPhone’s IMEI using the iTunes software on your computer. To do it, connect your iPhone to the computer, open iTunes and select your device. Then, go to “Summary” and click on phone number, which will show you the device’s MEID and IMEI number.
Using Microsoft account (Windows Phone only)
To check your Windows Phone or Mobile’s IMEI number, you can visit Microsoft account and log in with the account connected to your smartphone. Once logged in, click on the “Devices” section and select the device, after which you should see the IMEI number of the Windows device.
How is IMEI useful?
The IMEI number of a your smartphone or feature phone is unique for a reason. It can be used to identify your device as uniquely yours.. Here are some ways IMEI numbers come to good use:
Suppose, you send your mobile device for a repair and it returns all bricked and dead. Then, how will you know that the device that has returned is yours and not some other device. Well, you get it, right? The IMEI number should then help you identify if the device is yours or not.
Buying an older device
When you are planning to buy an older smartphone, the first thing you should do is check the device’s IMEI number. If the IMEI description on the phone says “Bad IMEI”, then the GSM modem of the phone is most probably broken and the device won’t be able to connect to a network. So, the IMEI number comes handy when buying an older phone, as it also represents if a device’s cellular services are fine or not.
Tracking a lost/stolen phone
The first thing cops ask when you file a report of your lost/stolen phone is the IMEI number. That’s because a device’s IMEI number is the only way to track a device remotely. Once you file an FIR with the cops, your device will be blacklisted, which will block it from connecting to a network. So, it’s important that you know the IMEI number at all times.
When you first start up your new mobile phone, that’s when the device’s IMEI number gets activated along with the date. So, even if you lose the bill, your date of purchase will be attached with your device’s IMEI number. That means your phone’s IMEI number can help you with your warranty claim.
IMEI numbers are important and now you know them
IMEI numbers might feel like one of the various technical specifications of a mobile phone that we don’t really care about, but the fact is, the unique identity number comes in pretty handy in various situations. So, it’s important that you note down your device’s IMEI number, as you never know when you might need it.
To sum things up, we are pretty sure that you now understand what an IMEI number is and how to find it through different ways. However, if you still have any doubts, do let us know in the comments section below.