Friday, 5 June 2015

What in the world is IMEI or MEID number?

While many people have heard of either IMIE or MEID numbers, few people understand what they are, why they are important, or what they are used for. This article will answer all of your questions about IMIE and MEID numbers.

IMIE and MEID numbers are also referred to as device identifiers because each individual cell phone has its own unique number. You may think of it as the IMIE or MEID number being the social security number for the phone. While there are a number of that type of phone, only that specific phone has that specific IMIE or MEID number.

How to Find a Phone’s IMIE or MEID Number

There are three main ways that you can find a phone’s IMIE or MEID number.

The first method involves typing a number into your phone the same way you would call someone. By dialing *#06#, the IMIE or MEID number will generally appear on the display. This is probably the easiest way and works on most smart phones.

The second method is through the menu on the phone. By looking under settings, you can usually find the device identifier. However, this is going to be in different locations for different phones, so you may have to do some looking around before you find it.

The third method involves checking the exterior of the phone for a physical sticker that contains the IMIE or MEID number. In the majority of phones, it can be found in the battery compartment, either below the battery or on the compartment door. It may also be found in the SIM or memory card slots.  The sticker will contain barcodes and several numbers. Be sure to find the number marked IMIE or MEID.

What are the different Device Identifiers

There are three different acronyms that you will hear that refer to the device identifier: ESN, IMEI, and MEID. While they all perform the same function, there are differences in the types of phones that they are used with.

ESN - Electronic Serial Number

This term was used throughout the United States for phones that utilize the CDMA wireless network. However, you will not hear this term as often since it is being phased out. The ESN is being replaced by the MEID number which is longer and more similar to the IMEI number.

MEID - Mobile Equipment Identifier

This number is 14 digits long and likewise is used with phones that utilize the CDMA wireless network. Most of these types of phones do not have SIM cards. Companies like Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular all use the CDMA networks which means these phones will have MEIDs. CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access, and it simply refers the type of technology that supports wireless phone service.

IMEI - International Mobile Station Equipment Identity

These device identifiers are used with phones that are a part of the GSM wireless network. Some of the companies that use the GSM network include AT&T and T-Mobile. GSM stand for Global System for Mobile Communications. Simply put, GSM is a different type of technology that is used for supporting mobile phone usage.

To the average phone owner, this information doesn’t really help much, except that you now know that if your phone runs on a CDMA network it will have a MEID or an ESN, and if your phone runs on a GSM network it will have an IMEI.

Uses for IMEI and MEID Numbers

There are actually a great number of uses for these numbers that will help you in times of trouble. You may not need to know your phone’s IMEI or MEID number on an average day, but you’ll be glad to have access to it if something goes wrong.

Theft Deterrent

IMEI and MEID numbers are actually great theft deterrents because if your phone is stolen or even just lost, your wireless provider can use the device identifier to shut down the phone remotely so that it cannot be used for phone calls or anything else. In addition to the phone then being worthless to thieves, it also can prevent any sensitive information on your phone from being accessed.

There are also some third party applications that you might be able to use to track your lost or stolen cell phone by using the IMEI or MEID for your phone. Although these applications have to be installed on your phone prior to anything happening to it and it is not guaranteed to help, the possibility of being able to easily recover your phone makes it worth the chance.

Netwrok Unlock your Phone

When you purchase a phone from a carrier network provided, in most case, the phone comes locked to that specific network provider, so you cannot use any other SIM card. In order to network unlock your phone and use any other SIM card, you need to provide the IMEI number. With this unique phone identifier your unlock code is pulled from a database or is calculated, depending on the brand of your device. Once your phone is unlocked, will remain unlocked even after software updates.

Phone Activation

The first time you use your phone, your wireless phone carrier needs to use your IMEI or MEID number to activate your phone for service. The date and time of activation is recorded by the wireless company in order to determine the length of warranty. If the phone is used, they can also check to see what phone numbers have been used on that particular phone in the past.

Warranties and Manufacturers

Your IMEI or MEID number is the most important one to have on hand whenever you are talking to a manufacturer about an issue with your phone. They can use this to check the warranty date, and if you do have to send you phone in, then they can double check that the correct phone has been sent to them.

Another reason manufacturers want your IMEI or MEID number is that they can check for common issues that may be occurring in a certain batch of phones that was either made in a certain location or around a certain time. This allows them to add phones to a known defect list which in turn allows them to more quickly address problems that other people may be having.

If you are not among the first people experiencing this problem, then you have a much better chance at quickly getting the part or repair that you need because your IMEI or MEID number will have already been listed as having a known issue. At that point, the manufacturer is aware of the problem and you don’t have to argue with them or try to convince them that the problem is under warranty.

It is important to note here that there most physical damage that occurs on a phone is not covered by the warranty because it is generally caused by the users and is rarely a result of a manufacturing defect. This is why it is vital to have your IMEI or MEID information handy in case there is a known physical defect in the batch that your phone came in.

Occasionally, there may be a problem when sending in your phone to the manufacturer, and having the IMEI or MEID handy will help you solve problems that may occur. For example, if you send your phone in to the manufacturer and it is returned to you smashed into several pieces with a note stating that your phone is no longer under warranty because of the damage but you knew it was fine when you put it in the mailbox, there may have been a mix-up.

In this case, you can use your IMEI or MEID number to verify that the phone that was returned to you is not your phone. This mix-up can sometimes happen at the manufacturer if people get careless with the phones they are working on, but there are also people that break into packages in transit to switch out broken cell phones for working ones. Before sending in your phone for repairs, be sure to write down the IMEI or MEID number and take a picture of the sticker to have proof of ownership.

Buying a Used Phone

Buying a used phone can be a great way to get a fairly new phone without spending too much money, but you have to be careful about the wording on the advertisement. If you see a phone that is advertised as having a bad ESN, a bad or blacklisted IMEI, or a bad MEID, then that means that the IMEI or MEID number is not working and cannot be fixed. The phone will not be able to make phone calls or connect to a wireless network, so do not buy a phone with those specifications unless you are planning on using it only for the replacement parts.


As you can see, the IMEI or MEID number on a cell phone is extremely important and good information for you to keep on hand in case of emergencies. Since many of these problems cannot be planned for, be sure to write down your phone’s IMEI or MEID number immediately and keep it somewhere safe where you can quickly and easily access it if you need it.