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An IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity number is a 15-digit unique number assigned to mobile phones and smartphones that run on the GSM network. When you purchase an Android smartphone, such as one of the Google Pixel or Samsung Galaxy phones, you'll notice that the original packaging has a white sticker detailing its IMEI number. You can also find this number in the phone's software using several methods. In this guide, we explain what an IMEI number is, why it is important, and how you can find it for your phone.

IMEI number explained: Why it's important

Just like we all have a unique social security number, which we can use to prove our identity, a smartphone can be identified using its IMEI number, which is a numeric identifier, generally 15 digits long. These IMEI numbers are saved in an EIR (Equipment Identity Register) database, which can be used to identify any mobile device.

Using the IMEI number, authorities can find several details about the phone, including the brand, model number, and more. That's why, when you take in your phone for repair or buy insurance, the companies ask for its IMEI number to identify it.

The primary use of the IMEI number is to prevent the misuse of stolen phones. If you lose your mobile phone or someone steals it, you can use its IMEI number to have it blocked. Even if someone changes the SIM card or tries to use it on a different service provider or Wi-Fi, they can't use your device, as the IMEI number is tied to the device and cannot be changed. It ensures that no one can use your phone for nefarious activities.

How to find the IMEI number of your Android phone

When you buy a new smartphone, you'll find its IMEI number on the box. If you lost the box before noting down the number, don't worry. You can find the IMEI number using the phone's built-in software. There used to be a time when the IMEI number was printed under the removable battery or the SIM card tray of a smartphone. However, with phones getting slimmer and removable batteries becoming a thing of the past, companies have added the ability to find the IMEI number of phones in the software.

Find the IMEI number of your Android smartphone using the dialer

The easiest way to find your phone's IMEI number is by using your smartphone's dialer or phone app. Here are the steps you'll follow:

  1. Unlock the phone and launch the phone or dialer app.
  2. Use the keypad to dial *#06# and wait a few moments. The IMEI number appears on the screen, as shown in the screenshot.

You can use this method to find the IMEI number of your Apple iPhone running iOS.

Use the Android Settings app to check the IMEI number

You can also find the IMEI number of your phone using the settings app. We used a Google Pixel 3a to show the steps, which might differ slightly depending on your phone manufacturer.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your phone.
  2. Scroll down to find the About phone option and tap to open it.
  3. Scroll down to the IMEI section to see the unique 15-digit number.

Frequently asks questions about IMEI number

Q. Is the IMEI number the same as my phone's serial number?

No. The IMEI number is different from your phone's serial number. The serial number is assigned by your device OEM for internal tracking purposes only. The IMEI number is standard across the industry.

Q. Do CDMA phones also have IMEI numbers?

CDMA phones do not come with unique IMEI numbers. Instead, they are identified using ESN or MEID numbers.

Q. How can I use IMEI?

Before buying a used phone, use the IMEI number to check if someone has reported it stolen. Do not buy the phone if it is on a blocklist. Performing this one check will save you from getting scammed.

Q. Can anyone with my phone's IMEI number track me?

Only law enforcement authorities can legally track your using your phone's IMEI number. However, hackers can track you using the IMEI number, so refrain from sharing the number with anyone.

Q. Is my personal information tied to the IMEI number?

No. The IMEI number can only be used to identify the device and, in certain cases, track its position. Your personal data, including name, address, or phone number, is not attached to the IMEI number.

An IMEI number is not a replacement for Google Find My Device

While IMEI numbers can be used to track your Android device, only law enforcement agencies have the authority to use the IMEI number for tracking. If you lose your phone and want to track and find it, use Google Find My Device. Also, while the IMEI number only works for tracking phones, you can use the Find My Device feature to track your lost Android phone and tablet.