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What is IMEI and why should you care?

Here's how to check IMEI on your Android smartphone, what's it used for, and why you should never share it with strangers.
August 7, 2021

If you’re wondering what IMEI is, you’ve come to the right place. IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) is a unique number for identifying a device on a mobile network. You can think of it as your phone’s social security number. It has 15 digits and is assigned to every GSM phone — CDMA devices have a MEID number.

The IMEI number comes in handy when your handset gets lost or stolen. No, it won’t magically bring the phone back to you, but you can make sure whoever found or stole it won’t be able to use it. Your carrier can deny list a device based on its IMEI number and can contact other carriers to do the same. This means the phone won’t make/receive calls anymore or connect online via the cellular network, even with a new SIM card.

Read next: What’s the deal with Dual SIM 5G phones?

An IMEI number also comes in handy when buying a used phone. With the help of a service like CheckMend, you can check whether the phone you’re interested in has been reported lost, is denylisted, was subject to an insurance claim, and more. The service isn’t free, but it is affordable, setting you back just a dollar.

The IMEI number also reveals loads of other details about a phone. These include the brand and model, year of release, and specifications. You can try this out by visiting and typing in your phone’s IMEI number — it’s free.

How to check IMEI on your Android phone

how to find IMEI number

Now that you know what IMEI is let’s take a look at how to find it. The easiest way to check IMEI on an Android phone is to dial *#06#, after which the number should appear on your screen. If you have a dual-SIM phone, you’ll see two IMEI numbers — one for each SIM slot. You can also check IMEI in your device’s settings by heading to About device > Status > IMEI information, although the path may differ depending on your handset.

Some phones have the IMEI number printed on the back, while you might also find it printed under the removable battery cover if you have an older device. The IMEI number is also written on the SIM card tray on a few phones.

The last option is to check the phone’s packaging if you still have it. The IMEI number should be printed on a sticker located somewhere in the retail box.

Whichever method you use, make sure to write down the IMEI number and keep it safe. That way, you’ll be able to give it to your carrier in case your phone gets lost or stolen. Also, make sure you don’t share the IMEI number with other people. Shady characters often apply a valid IMEI number to a stolen device to avoid getting it denylisted, which is illegal in many global regions.

So, now you know what IMEI is, how to find the IMEI number, and why you should know it in the first place. What’s your phone’s IMEI number? Share it with us in the comments below! That’s a joke — seriously, don’t do it!