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What is an IMEI number and why should you care?

Looking for your IMEI? Let's help you find it!

Published onMay 3, 2024

Android settings app stock photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

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 an IMEI number.


An IMEI is a 15-digit number that identifies your device in a mobile network. The easiest way to find it is in the settings. On Android, go to Settings > About Phone > IMEI. On an iPhone, go to Settings > General > About > Available SIMs > IMEI. If you're using an iPhone, go to Settings > General > About > IMEI.


Editor’s note: We used a Google Pixel 7 running Android 14 and an Apple iPhone 12 Mini running iOS 17.4.1 to formulate these steps. Some menus may differ depending on your device and software version.

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

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. CDMA tech is very rare in the USA now, though, so this is likely not something most of our audience needs to worry about.

Your phone’s IMEI number also 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 is also good to have 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 blacklisted, was subject to an insurance claim, and more. The service isn’t free, but it is affordable, setting you back just two dollars. The pricing is also reduced as you purchase more IMEI checks. If you prefer a free service, Swappa also has its own IMEI checker.

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 if you’re curious about what comes up.

How to find your IMEI number in the settings

The easiest way to find your IMEI number is by digging into the phone settings. Let’s go over the steps together.

How to find your IMEI on Android settings:

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

How to find your IMEI on iPhone settings:

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Go into About.
  4. Scroll down to the Available SIMs section. You will find your IMEI numbers there.

How to find your IMEI using a dial code

Have you ever tried dial codes? They are officially known as USSD codes. We have guides on both Android and iOS codes, if you want to learn more about these. What matters here is that you can use them to figure out what your phone’s IMEI number is.

How to find your IMEI on Android with 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 on iPhone with a dial code:

  1. Launch the Phone app.
  2. Go into the Keypad tab.
  3. Dial *#06#.
  4. The number will show up, along with other info.

You can use Google’s Find My Device to get your IMEI number

Find My Device is a very cool Google feature that allows you to locate lost or stolen devices. It also happens to be an indirect simple way to find out your device’s IMEI number. Of course, this also means that it is only a solution for Android users, as iPhones don’t work with Google’s Find My Device.

Also, you need to have enabled this feature in the past for this to work. We have a full guide on Find My Device if you want to learn more about this.

How to get your IMEI number using Find My Device:

  1. Launch Chrome and go to the Find My Device website.
  2. Sign into your Google account if needed.
  3. On the left column, select the device from which you want to get the IMEI number.
  4. Tap on the gear icon.
  5. Your IMEI number will appear in the details.

Check the device or box

Some phones have the number printed on the back, while you might also find it printed under the removable battery cover, if you happen to have a device with one. It’s also written on the SIM card tray on a few phones. For example, iPhones are known to include IMEI numbers inside the SIM card tray, but this tradition seems to have ended with the iPhone 13.

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.


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!

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