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How and Why to Check IMEI

The IMEI is often located on the battery,
but that’s not the only way to check it.


The IMEI, or  International Mobile Equipment Identifier, is a fifteen digit number that is assigned to each phone during production and is unique to your device. Also referred to as an MEID or ESN, this number functions as a way of storing information about phones so that carriers can check the financial status on devices.

Why should I check?

Pretty much every phone company–Tier One or MVNO–will require a IMEI/MEID/ESN number check in order to activate the phone with a line of service. This number is designed to help carriers track which phones have been reported stolen, and whether or not you owe any money on a device.

So, with keeping that in mind, whenever you purchase a used device from a private seller, it’s probably a good idea to request the IMEI number so that you can not only verify that the device is clean, but also check with your intended carrier that the device will be compatible. This is especially important with Sprint devices, due to Sprint’s new FEC (financial eligibility check) policies.

Why shouldn’t I check?

Of course, it should be noted that simply asking an Ebay seller for an IMEI still isn’t going to guarantee that the device is clean, as unscrupulous dealers could simply give you a fake IMEI and then sell you a stolen or blacklisted device. Some companies even suggest that you shouldn’t even bother asking, because if the seller is legit they have already checked it, and if they aren’t, they’ll simply give you a fake one.

Personally, I think that simply asking and getting a IMEI number will help you determine whether or not the seller is as honest as you hope they are. As with everything, if it looks shady or too good to be true, then just walk away. There are always other devices.

How do I check?

If you’re looking to sell your device or activate it on a network, it’s helpful to know how to check your IMEI. On most phones, the IMEI number will be printed inside the phone, either above, on top of or behind the batter usually. The IMEI is a 15 digit number with no letters, so it’s not too hard to spot. However, if you don’t feel like prying the back off of your device, you can actually dial a command to have it pop up on the screen.

From the dialer, punch in:


The number should automatically pop up a gray menu with the number displayed. Voila! Now you can check the device without having to remove your case.