An IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity is a unique number that identifies a mobile phone.1 IMEIs are roughly 15 digits long and function like a serial number for a cell phone. Wireless carriers often ask new customers who are bringing their own devices to a service to provide their phones’ IMEI numbers during signup. Wireless carriers check IMEIs against databases to learn things like a phone’s:
- Network compatibility
- Blacklist status (i.e., has the phone been reported lost or stolen)
- Carrier-lock status
Finding your IMEI
IMEIs are often physically printed on phones. Sometimes, you can find them printed on phones’ SIM trays or inside phones’ battery compartments. However, it’s usually easiest to find an IMEI through a phone’s software.
To find your IMEI on a recent Android phone, go to make a call and dial *#06#. A message will appear with your phone’s IMEI number.
On recent iPhones, go to Settings –> General –> About. From the About page, you should be able to scroll down to view your IMEI number.
If the above methods don’t work, I suggest Googling “How to find an IMEI on [phone type].” Alternatively, find what version of an operating system you’re running and Google something along the lines of “How to find IMEI numbers in [operating system name and version].”