IMEI Meaning & Definition

An International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is a unique number for identifying a device on a mobile network. It operates the same as a social security number or serial number but identifies phones specifically. The number has 15 digits and consists of four groups like the model below:

Nnnnnn–nn-nnnnnn-n

IMEI uses

An IMEI number is assigned to every Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) phone, GSM being a digital cellular system. Phone carriers and manufacturers share IMEI numbers to enable the tracking of smartphones that may be stolen or compromised. For example, if someone were to have their phone stolen, they can contact their carrier and have the device blacklisted based on its IMEI number. This means the phone won’t be able to make or receive calls or connect to the internet—even with a new SIM card.

An IMEI number is also useful when buying a used phone. Using an IMEI checker will reveal if a phone has been reported lost, blacklisted, or subjected to an insurance claim. The identification number also reports details about a phone such as the brand, model, year of release, and other specifications.

How to check your IMEI number

The IMEI number is commonly found within a phone’s settings. However, in older iOS or Android devices, the IMEI may be found inside the SIM tray or on the back of the device. If the device has a removable battery, the IMEI is located under the battery next to the SIM slot. For finding the IMEI on newer devices:

iOS

  1. Open Settings and select General
  2. Choose About 
  3. Scroll down to the primary setting labelled IMEI to view the IMEI number

Android

  1. Open Settings
  2. Chose About device or About phone
  3. Select Status to view the IMEI number along with mobile contact information

Once the IMEI number is found, store the number in a safe place. If the number gets into the wrong hands, malicious parties could use the number to compromise the phone’s service.

 

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Abby Dykes
Abby Dykes
Abby Dykes is a newly-graduated writer and editor for websites such as TechnologyAdvice.com, Webopedia.com, and Project-Management.com. When she’s not writing about technology, she enjoys giving too many treats to her dog and coaching part-time at her local gym.

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