A mobile phone is an intelligent network device, and it contains many identifiers that can help track it. The two most obvious parts of a connected mobile phone are the mobile handset and the SIM card (Subscriber Identity Module). A mobile network mainly uses IMSI and TMSI numbers to identify the SIM card, but the phone itself also has an identifier which is called the International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI for short. In this post, let’s look at the different ways of checking the IMEI number on various mobile phones.
The best and the quickest way to check the IMEI number of your mobile phone is to type this sequence on the dial pad of your phone: *#06#. When you type this sequence, your mobile phone will display the 15-digit IMEI number on the phone screen. For dual-SIM phones, you will see two IMEI numbers.
What exactly is the IMEI number?
IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity is a unique 15-digit number assigned to every SIM-enabled cellular device, including mobile phones, mobile broadband routers, SIM-enabled smartwatches and so on. This unique number is programmed into the device by the device manufacturer. IMEI is a device-specific number and does not change no matter which SIM card (and phone number) it is used with. Only the manufacturers of the mobile device are authorised to assign this number. Changing this number is called “unblocking”, which is a criminal offence under UK laws.
When might you need the IMEI number?
If your mobile phone is locked to a specific mobile network, e.g. Vodafone, and you want to put a SIM card from another operator, e.g. T-Mobile, you need your device details so that your current operator (Vodafone in this example) can unlock your phone. The mobile operator whose network your phone is locked to will ask you for the IMEI number alongside other details so that they can identify your phone and unlock it. IMEI number can also be used to protect your phone from being misused if stolen. If a mobile phone is lost or stolen, the customer should immediately contact their mobile operator so they can block the phone.
What is the easiest way of checking IMEI number?
The easiest way of checking the IMEI number is to type *#06# on the dial pad of any mobile phone. As soon as you type this sequence, you will see a screen popping up on the mobile phone screen with a 15 digit number which is the IMEI number. If you have a dual-SIM phone, you will see two IMEI numbers when you type this sequence (e.g. IMEI and IMEI2) because IMEI is specific to every SIM-enabled device.
Is it free to do an IMEI check on your phone?
The IMEI number of a mobile phone is linked to the device and not the SIM card. You can, therefore, check the IMEI number even if your mobile phone is not connected to the mobile network. As the mobile phone does not require your mobile subscription to find the IMEI number, you can type *#06# to see your IMEI number for free. Depending on your mobile phone, you can also go to the device settings to find the IMEI number, as explained below.
How to check the IMEI number on iPhone?
As touched upon earlier, the simplest way to check the IMEI number is to use the sequence but in smartphones including iPhone and Android phones, this information can easily be found by navigating to the device information area. so, if you own an iPhone, you can check your IMEI number in at least two ways:
Option 1 – Typing the *#06# sequence
Step 1 – Go to the native dialler on your iPhone and tap it gently
Step 2 – You should now see this dial pad
Step 3 – On the dial pad of your phone simply type *#06#
Once you finish typing the sequence, a new screen will automatically pop up with the device information displaying your IMEI number. You do not need to tap the dial button. The device information will show up as soon as you have finished typing *#06#. If you have an iPhone with a dual-SIM option either as a physical slot or eSIM, you will see two IMEI numbers specific to each SIM-enabled compartment. The screenshot below is for an iPhone with one SIM option, so it displays only one IMEI number.
Option 2 – Check under the settings page
Step 1 – Locate the ‘Settings‘ icon and tap on it
Step 2 – Go to ‘General‘
Step 3 – Tap on ‘About‘
Step 4 – Locate your IMEI number by scrolling down to the area which shows IMEI, ICCID and other information.
How to check IMEI on other phones and routers?
Like the iPhone, you can type *#06# on the dial pad of any mobile phone, and it will display the IMEI number. Alternatively, in Android mobile phones, you can go to ‘Settings’, then ‘About phone’, and you will be able to see the IMEI number. You can use the same approach with SIM-enabled tablets. In mobile phones where the battery is easily removable, the IMEI number can be found at the back of the phone behind the battery area. With mobile broadband dongles and routers, you can find the IMEI number usually printed on a sticker somewhere on the device. If you are using a 4G or 5G router, you can find the IMEI number by logging into the router also. You can do that by typing the IP address of the router (usually found on the router, e.g. 184.108.40.206) on a web browser when connected to the router.
Here are some helpful downloads
Thank you for reading this post, I hope it helped you in developing a better understanding of cellular networks. Sometimes, we need some extra support, especially when preparing for a new job, studying a new topic, or maybe just buying a new phone. Whatever you are trying to do, here are some downloads that can help you:
Students & fresh graduates: If you are just starting, the complexity of the cellular industry can be a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry, I have created this FREE ebook so you can familiarise yourself with the basics like 3G, 4G etc. As a next step, check out the latest edition of the same ebook with more details on 4G & 5G networks with diagrams. You can then read Mobile Networks Made Easy, which explains the network nodes, e.g., BTS, MSC, GGSN etc.
Professionals: If you are an experienced professional but new to mobile communications, it may seem hard to compete with someone who has a decade of experience in the cellular industry. But not everyone who works in this industry is always up to date on the bigger picture and the challenges considering how quickly the industry evolves. The bigger picture comes from experience, which is why I’ve carefully put together a few slides to get you started in no time. So if you work in sales, marketing, product, project or any other area of business where you need a high-level view, Introduction to Mobile Communications can give you a quick start. Also, here are some templates to help you prepare your own slides on the product overview and product roadmap.