IMEI number: what is it, how is it found and what is it used for?

The IMEI number of a smartphone is a unique 15-digit identifier. It can be used to block or unblock a smartphone remotely, or more precisely to authorize or not the device on operator networks. It is also thanks to this number that telephones can make emergency calls even without a SIM card. Finally, it can identify stolen smartphones which is an aid in identifying such devices when you buy a used smartphone. Here is all you need to know. 

What is the IMEI number

The International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI is a unique number which makes it possible to identify independently of the SIM card any device capable of connecting to the GSM, UMTS and LTE networks. It gives operators more flexibility to strengthen the security of their fleet of smartphones, in particular by authorizing or not authorizing devices on their network. But not only. The IMEI also allows the operator to automatically know the type of device of its subscribers for technical, marketing and customer support purposes. Indeed, specific fields of the IMEI are allocated for an identification of the manufacturer then of the model. Thus, if the operator supports it, this allows him to automatically detect the terminal model.

What is the IMEI number for?

Concretely, this number allows, in case of theft, to prohibit the use of the device on the network of operators. During a complaint, this number can be added to a black list, and calls become impossible even if you have a valid SIM card. However, this is not always always effective: these databases are not always well interconnected, and are mostly national or regional.

More recently, private sites have offered to record the IMEI numbers of users, especially when they are stolen. The advantage is that a buyer of a used smartphone can thus verify that the IMEI number of his new device is not part of these databases, simply by entering the IMEI number of the smartphone in Google. If you want to report an IMEI number of stolen smartphone, here are some examples of sites:

How to get the IMEI number

Do you have the smartphone in your possession? There are several methods to obtain it regardless of the model or brand of your smartphone (even if it is a feature phone…):

  • Dial * # 06 # in the Phone application
  • Directly on an inscription somewhere on the phone (it is generally found under the battery when it is removable…)
  • In the Find my Device app from Google

If you no longer have the smartphone in your possession , the IMEI number can be found as follows:

  • On the labels on the smartphone packaging and on the purchase invoice
  • By asking your operator

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