It may not be the most exciting part about buying a new smartphone: no doubt your attention is more likely to be taken up with the amount of RAM, the size of the screen, the sound quality, the rich number of pixels for the camera; even the color of the phone, but there’s only one thing that can help you trace your phone in the unfortunate event it is lost or stolen. We are talking about the all-important IMEI number.
Every smartphone has one. It’s short for International Mobile Equipment Identity. Each IMEI number is unique to each phone, and it’s the way service providers and law enforcement officers can trace the phone when it is lost or stolen. Armed with this number your service provider can quickly block it, meaning the criminal who stole it cannot continue use your phone, and should he try to sell it on it will immediately show up to all co-operating service providers as being blacklisted.
So as you can see, it’s a very important number, and whenever you buy a new phone, the very first thing you should do is take note of it – but never on your mobile phone. Always keep it separate from the phone you are using. The reason a lot of mobile phone crime is still prevalent around the globe is because many people are not aware of how important this number is, and so they simply fail to take note of it.
The most straightforward, safe and easy way to find your IMEI number is to tap your phone and punch in the USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) code: *#06#. This will automatically bring up your IMEI number for you to carefully copy and store away in the event it is needed. By the way, as your IMEI is attached to your SIM, if you have a dual SIM phone, both numbers will be required.
Apple iPhone 5 or more recent models have the IMEI number located at the back of the phone. The IMEI number is engraved at the base on the phone’s back. Once again, you should note this down so you have it if the phone is lost. This method is OK if you know for certain the phone is brand new out of the box, but NEVER depend on it if the phone is bought secondhand.
The IMEI can also be also be found in the software of the phone. Go to Settings, tap on General, then tap on About and your IMEI number will be revealed.
For Android phones, tap on Settings and then tap on ‘About Device’ or ‘About Phone’. In ‘About Device’ tap on ‘Status’ and simply scroll down until you see your IMEI number listed.
In the event your Android phone has been stolen and you are unable to punch in the code above or check on the Settings, all is not lost. You can still find it without the phone provided your device is connected to your Google account. All you have to do is sign in to Google Dashboard with the account that was connected to your Android phone. In the Dashboard, tap on “Android”, look for the green robot on the side. All the Android devices that use this account will be displayed along with their IMEI number, even if the Google account is changed.
LG > Settings > About > Phone Identity
BlackBerry> Settings > About > General > Hardware
If you still need other options, there are other ways you can find the IMEI, but these are NOT as reliable as the methods above.
On the box
In the unhappy event your phone is lost or stolen, provided you have kept the box it came in, look for the barcode on the side or the bottom of the box—your IMEI number should be clearly listed there. However, this is not recommended as a method because there is no guarantee the box matches the exact phone – even if bought from a reputable store, mix-ups can happen.
By using iTunes
If you have ever encountered that frustrating moment when a phone fails to boot up for reasons unknown, it is still possible to find the IMEI number. If you have an iTunes account, start by plugging your phone into your computer and launching iTunes, then select your iPhone from the Devices section of the left-hand menu. Go to the Summary tab, then click the 'Phone Number' entry to find your IMEI.
Housing or SIM Card Tray (valid for most phones)
Many brands have the IMEI actually printed on the device; it could be on the SIM card tray, under the battery holder, or even on the back of the housing somewhere. For example, an iPhone will either have the IMEI on the back of the phone or printed inside the SIM card tray. Lumia phones will have it either on the SIM card tray, on the housing, or behind the battery.
However, once again, there are some important reasons why these methods are NOT recommended. There is a significant risk that the phone may have been refurbished, tampered with (i.e. an IMEI Change), or the SIM Tray lost and then replaced. These are therefore not surefire and safe ways to identify your IMEI, so we strongly recommend that you NEVER use these methods to find the IMEI of your cell phone.
The best, simplest and most secure way is listed on Step 1; Punch in *#06#, write your IMEI number down somewhere safe where you can always find it and enjoy peace of mind.