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Quick 2021 Guide: Everything you need to know about IMEI

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Happy Friyay, readers! Today’s guide is a comprehensive version of the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number covering everything that our audience needs to know.

This unique pair of numbers is used for what principle and what are the secondary uses of it?

Interesting, isn’t it? So without further ado, let’s get started. 

What is an IMEI number?

An IMEI (as mentioned before) stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity. A serial (unique set of) numbers is dedicated to an equipment (inevitably to cellular devices). The number is assigned by manufacturer to the cellular device, just like every other equipment, for instant cars. 

The phone device consisting of a SIM card is recognized by a dedicated IMEI number. IMEI consists of 15-digit numbers that are guaranteed unique and accepted globally. For your information, the device with two sim card slots will have two globally unique (15-digits) IMEI numbers.  

The Division of IMEI Number

As mentioned before, the IMEI numbers consist of 15 unique numbers with an arranged sequence as WW-XXXXXX-YYYYYY-Z. 

The typical IMEI arranged sequence could be explained as follow:

1. WW -sets the reporting body identifier showing the GSMA approved TAC (Typical Allocation Code) 

2. XXXXXX – the actual Typical Allocation Code (TAC) numbers are represented by this sequence.

3. YYYYYY – identifies specific cellular device

4. Z – acts as digit checker, typically it is 0 for GSM devices 

How does the network use the IMEI?

The TAC (i.e. the  Typical Allocation Code) is commonly linked with the cellular module or modem (in cellular IoT). The IMEI not only identifies the device type but also confirms the model, release year, make or other specifications of the cellular device. 

The allocation of a TC by a reporting body is an approved sign that the device, module, or modem has been agreed and equally passed by the relevant regulatory inspection. With this scrutiny and regulatory approval by the TAC, the network can further approve the device (and signal) connection permission. 

Can you manipulate an IMEI number?

It is possible to bluff an IMEI number with basic programming knowledge, even when the manufacturer is not intending to do so. Thieves subterfuge this option on numerous occasions by utilizing corresponding programs available on Google and Apple app stores. They take interest in changing the IMEI of a stolen smartphone (for instance) that can no longer be identified with the manipulation. 

When do you need an IMEI number?

Firstly, you should write down the device’s IMEI number and store it in a safe place (ideally, write it down on a piece of paper). Not everyone can remember the 15-digit IMEI (sequence of) number. If your device is lost or stolen, in order to report it successfully to the police, you will need to share the IMEI number. The devices will be completely blocked by the carrier based on this IMEI number. This is why you should never pass the IMEI number to third parties. 

What is an IMEI number used for?

Consider it as your device’s fingerprint. The phone carrier, police, or the authorized manufacturer can use these unique 15-digit numbers to track the devices in an unfortunate case – such as lost or stolen cases. An IMEI is dedicated to a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) operating phone. It could also be used on occasions like deactivating the device or checking the status of the smartphone that you have just purchased. 

How can I find my phone’s IMEI?

The IMEI number is not only used when the device is stolen but also in the event when the error or complaint has to be analyzed by the device manufacturer or carrier provider. You can determine the IMEI number of your device either by:

1. An IMEI universally accepted code – dial the *#06# virtually on any phone. You will not be required to send or press the call button – the IMEI code(s) will appear on its own.

2. For an iPhone or cellular iPad device, you have to go to the settings app on your home screen. Go on general and tap about on the device where you will find a handful of information about your iPad or iPhone.

Similarly scroll down to ascertain the IMEI number. Simply write it down in a safer space. If you are unable to use your iPhone or on it, you can use your sim card tray to find the IMEI number.

It is available on iPhone models starting from 6s. However, the IMEI will be available on the bottom back of the phone for iPad (consisting of the iPhone SE/older iPhone or an iPod Touch). 

3. For Android you have to open settings in your app drawer. If your Android device has a battery that is removable, you can check the IMEI beneath the battery.

You will need to power off your Android device when you are removing the battery. You can also look for your Sim Tray that will have the 15-digit IMEI number imprinted on it.

You can also check via your Android About section in your settings option and see the 15-digit IMEI within it. Make sure you have your digit written somewhere for future use. 

4. As a forth resort, you can also locate your original phone packaging. Once located, you have to look for the barcode label on your box. You may be able to clearly label the barcode and the serial number next to the IMEI. 

Is it OK to share my IMEI number?

The IMEI number should not be shared publicly because this is deemed as private information. From a seller’s point of view, the safest bet would be to share the IMEI only when the buyer has paid the upfront cost of the smartphone. 

The rationale behind this is because sharing the IMEI number freely could result as a great risk. You can lose it to a potential hacker who is masquerading as a bidder. Many buyers will show hesitation towards this policy but a user-to-user market like Swappa (and many others) have a smooth policy to secure the interest of buyers as well. Again – own your privacy – never compromise on it! 

Is my IMEI linked to SIM or phone?

Ideally, from this point you can easily tell that IMEI is not related to a sim card but is tied to the device (as its identifier). This should not be mixed with the UICC (universal integrated circuit card) number or the sim card. The IMEI is used by authoritative parties, such as the device manufacturer, phone carrier, or police to track or locate a specific smartphone regardless of its card.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ’s]

What are the alternative terms of IMEI?

IMEI is also known as ESN (Electronic Serial Number) or MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier). These are uniquely generated numbers tied to our smartphone. It is impossible that two devices may have the same IMEIs. ESN can be provided in different formats – it could be 14-digit MEID for older devices or 15-digit IMEI. 

How does an IMEI number enable police to find the culprit who stole the device?

IMEI allows device tracking. This tracking letter is shared with the network provider. The handset will be blocked and the device will be useless (even if SIM has been changed) unless it is unlocked.

How can I locate my IMEI if my phone is lost? 

You can get the MEID/IMEI number by logging into your provider’s online account. You can also look for the box (if it is around). The IMEI will be placed on the box back.

What are the quick steps for iPhone or Android?

If you are running on the current iOS version, you have to tap on settings.

1. Select General.

2. Opt for About section available at the top of the expanded menu

3. Scroll down or select the Primary Settings to see your IMEI 15-digit number

Android – 

You can dial *#06# to find IMEI OR perform the next steps regardless of your device

1. You can go to settings and tap general 

2. Tap About device/phone

3. Select Status to look for your IMEI number that is mentioned with your mobile number

For an older iOS or Android, you can locate it under the battery (on the back of your device) or inside the SIM tray. 

What is an IMEISV number?

It is the International Mobile Equipment Identity – Software Version. It is 16-digit long code and differs from the IMEI. The last two numbers are the SV or firmware/software version identifier. It is used to send the previous version of software to the device from the manufacturer as soon as the new software rolls out.

The 16-digit is divided into the following sections:

1. Six-digit TAC Code

2. The FAC (Final Assembly Code) as the name suggests will identify the last production stage location comprising of 2 digits

3. SNR or the Sequence Number is an individual SNR that is used to uniquely identify devices, incorporating the same FAC and TAC. It includes 6 digits

4. SVN is a software version number identifying the software version number consisting two digits 

IMEISV consists of decimal numbers only. It could be written as the following equation: 

TAC (6-digits) + FAC (2-digits) + SNR (6-digits) + SVN (2-digits) = 16-digits IMEISV.

The manufacturer marks the device(s) by protecting the FAC, SNR, and TAC from compromised or unauthorized changes. The TAC is by the GSMA and the manufacturer shares the FAC device final location. You can find IMEISV on the cellular device menu, model, module or on original packaging.

Conclusion

These digits, particularly with regard to security, are an essential part of any cell phone. These unique numbers are required for complaint purposes and not just for theft and tracking. It is highly advised not to share your IMEI number publicly or randomly.