You may have heard that an insurance company or law enforcement agency encourages you to register your IMEI.
You may have even seen it in the phone’s settings or on the packaging of the device. What is not so clear is what the International Mobile Equipment Identity, IMEI number is actually for.
So what is an IMEI number, and how will you find yours?
Table of Contents
- What is an IMEI number?
- Find your IMEI
- What is the IMEI number used for?
- What is a SIM card, and what is its function?
- Have you registered your IMEI?
What is an IMEI number?
An International Mobile Equipment Identity, also known as IMEI, is a unique digital identifier for each mobile device.
This number is used to distinguish each device from each other. If you bring your phone in for repair, it will be tracked using IMEI to distinguish it from millions of other iPhones, for example.
The standard IMEI number is a 14-digit string, with an additional 15-digit check digit to verify the entire string. There is also a 16-digit version that includes information about the software version of the device, called IMEISV.
Since 2004, the IMEI has appeared in the format AA-BBBBBB-0000-D. The sections labelled A and B are called the Type Assignment Code (TAC). The TAC part of the IMEI identifies the manufacturer and model of the device. For example, the Google Pixel’s TAC code is 35-161508, while the iPhone 6s Plus is 35-332907.
Some models have multiple TACs based on the audit, location of production, and other factors. Take for example; the iPhone 5C had five different TAC codes.
The six-digit C represents your device’s unique serial number as defined by the phone manufacturer. Part D of the IMEI is a check digit that ensures that the IMEI complies with the assignment and approval guidelines. The check digit is displayed on the packaging to prevent incorrect IMEI registration but is not part of the documented IMEI.
While the International Mobile Equipment Identity number is undoubtedly significant, it is not the only regulatory requirement for your smartphone. Manufacturers must comply with the regulations of each region in which they wish to sell their devices.
The IMEI does not indicate that the computer meets any of the other regulatory and security requirements.
Find your IMEI
There are several ways you can find your device’s IMEI. The universal approach is to go to the app to dial your device’s number. Touch *#06# and the IMEI will appear on the screen.
If one owns an Android or iOS device, you can also find the IMEI in Settings. On iOS, go to Settings> General> About and the IMEI will be displayed.
Copying an IMEI is as easy as touching and holding a number. Android devices may vary, but as a general rule, the Settings> About phone heading should show IMEI.
If you cannot access your device, there are other ways to find your IMEI. The retail packaging must have a label with the IMEI displayed.
If your device has a removable battery, the IMEI is usually listed under the battery. On many devices, the IMEI is printed on the back. On others, including iPhone 6s and later, the IMEI is written on the SIM card tray.
However, if you plan to buy a new device, especially a used device, you will also need to check its status using the IMEI. To do this, go to IMEI.info and enter the IMEI number of your smartphone.
This free tool will tell you something about the device and give you additional services like basic blacklisting. If you want even more clarity, IMEI.info offers premium services like a separate blacklist for each major US carrier and a SIM lock status tool.
If you’re looking for information fast and don’t mind paying for it, the premium CheckMEND service offers device history verification for just under a dollar.
What is the IMEI number used for?
The primary purpose of the IMEI is to equip your device with a unique identification number. Similarly, the IMEI is very similar to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) used in the automotive industry. Although sometimes confusing, the IMEI number is entirely separate from your SIM number and cannot be changed.
When you connect to a mobile network, your service provider registers both numbers to activate their service. The SIM number indicates your subscriber account, while the IMEI uniquely identifies the device.
What is a SIM card, and what is its function?
What is a SIM card, and how important is the SIM card? It connects you to your operator’s network, stores contact information and more.
If your mobile device is lost or stolen, you can contact your service provider who can block the IMEI number, preventing it from being used to connect to the network.
Your service provider may also communicate with other networks and ask them to block your device. Once you have done that, you can use the built-in tools to find your phone’s location.
Law enforcement agencies often keep records of lost and recovered phones identified by their IMEI. However, due to no good reason to change the device’s IMEI, this practice is illegal in many areas.
While it might be illegal to change the device’s IMEI, it does happen. Thieves will specifically try to take unblocked numbers and apply them to your stolen devices so they can be reused.
For this reason, we suggest that you never share or post your IMEI number online; otherwise, they might find your cloned device.
We also recommend that you generally do not share personal information online.
Have you registered your IMEI?
One of the most cogent and unique ways to identify your device is the number one IMEI number. If you haven’t already, you should find it and save it immediately.
Save your IMEI somewhere safe so that you can access it if you ever need it. If you’re looking for a digital safe, a password manager may be sufficient.
If you have found or recovered someone else’s smartphone, you may be wondering how to return it to them. In this case, you want to know what to do if you find a lost or stolen iPhone.
The International Mobile Equipment Identity, IMEI number is a unique 15-digit serial number for device identification, and all mobile phones around the world have it.
The IMEI number reveals details about the phone without you having to physically have it, including make and model, year of release, and other specifications.
For this reason, your insurance company or new phone service provider may want to know your IMEI number to create an insurance policy, and your new mobile operator may need it to unlock your old provider’s device services.
However, the main reason IMEI numbers are significant is their ability to help locate and protect lost or stolen phones. Your IMEI number is just as useful as your phone number, especially when it’s time to update your device or report missing. See what your IMEI is doing and how you can find it yourself.
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