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What is an IMEI number and why should you care?

Looking for your IMEI? Let's help you find it!
August 17, 2023
What is IMEI?

If you’re wondering what an IMEI number is, you’ve come to the right place. You’ve probably heard the acronym at carrier stores, during tech support calls, or whenever you need to switch phones. It often sounds like some high-tech code we know nothing about, but understanding it is easier than it seems. Today we’ll tell you all about what an IMEI number is.

What is an IMEI number, and how can it help me?

Android dialer on phone app 3
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

IMEI stands for “International Mobile Equipment Identity.” It’s 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. Check out our GSM vs CDMA comparison if you don’t know the difference between the two technologies.

Your phone’s 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 listing a device based on its IMEI number and request 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.

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 deny-listed, was subject to an insurance claim, and more. The service isn’t free, but it is affordable, setting you back just a dollar.

The 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 the IMEI number on your Android phone

how to find IMEI number - What is IMEI?

Now that you know what an IMEI number is, let’s look at how to find it. The easiest way to find it 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 numbers — one for each SIM slot. You can also check IMEI in your device’s settings by heading to Settings> About phone > IMEI.

How to find your IMEI using a dial code:

  1. Open your Phone app.
  2. Pull out the dialer.
  3. Dial *#06#.
  4. The number will show up, along with other info.

How to find your IMEI using the Settings:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go into About phone.
  3. Scroll down to IMEI, where you’ll see the number listed.

Note: These instructions were assembled using a Google Pixel 7a running Android 13. Remember that some steps might differ, depending on the hardware and software you’re using.

Other ways to find it

oneplus 10t standing with box and charger
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Some phones have the number printed on the back, while you might also find it printed under the removable battery cover if you have an older device. It’s 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 manufacturer might print it on a sticker located somewhere in the retail box.

Whichever method you use, make sure to write down the number and keep it safe. That way, you’ll be able to give it to your carrier in case you lose your device. Also, make sure you don’t share it with other people. Thieves can often apply clean numbers to the devices they steal.


Finding your iPhone’s IMEI number is just as easy as with Android devices. You can find the process in our guide for finding your iPhone’s IMEI number.

IMEI stands for “International Mobile Equipment Identity.” It’s pretty much a number that identifies a GSM phone within a network.

The IMEI’s main purpose is solely to identify a device. That said, it can also help prevent theft. Carriers can block stolen or lost phone IMEI numbers at the network level, making phones unusable through carriers.

It is possible to track a phone’s location using the IMEI number, as long as the device is connected to a network. In most cases, this is done by law enforcement, but hackers can get a hold of your location with a good amount of work, too. Additionally, thieves have been known to transfer clean IMEI numbers to stolen devices.

An IMEI number is attached to a device and can’t be changed unless you do some serious tinkering to a device.

So, now you know what IMEI is, how to find the 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!