What is IMEI number?
IMEI number aka International Mobile Station Equipment Identity number is an 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:
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.
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.
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.
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: Track Lost Mobile and Trace IMEI Number
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.
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.