Are you wondering what that IMIE or MEID number is on your cell phone? Wondering why your phone shows an MEID number instead of an IMEI number or vise versa? Interested in knowing what the difference between the two is? Then you have come to the right place. This article explains what an IMEI and MEID number is and what they are used for.
Purpose of the IMIE and MEID
Both of these numbers are often referred to as “Device Identifiers” and are used to help wireless carriers and cell phone manufactures identify specific devices. Each of these Device Identifiers is unique to their specific device.
Think of the IMEI number or MEID number as the phones Social Security Number. There might be thousands of a specific make and model of phone produced and released but each of those cell phones will have its own unique Device Identifier.
Finding your phones Device Identifier
There are a few ways that you can locate the IMEI/MEID number on your cell phone.
Through the dialer
On most smartphones the easiest way to find your phones IMEI/MEID number is to open up the phones dial pad as if you were going to dial a telephone number and type in *#06#. Once you type in “*#06#” the IMEI will pop up on the phones display.
Through the settings
You can also locate your cell phones Device Identifier through the phones settings. This will depend on what type of phone you have and what version of software is on the phone so you might have to search around in your settings a bit to find it.
On the label
Sometimes it’s not possible to even use the phone. How can you provide this number if your phone won’t even power on for example? IMEI and MEID numbers are usually printed on a sticker and are attached to the phone. The exact location will depend on your device but it’s often located in the phones battery compartment, SIM compartment, or memory slot. If your phone allows you to remove the battery then take the battery out and look where the battery sits and your likely to see your phones IMEI/MEID number.
If you have an Android smartphone and would like some more information about how and where to locate your phones IMEI/MEID number you can click here for more details.
What are the differences between an IMEI an MEID or ESN?
These are all types of Device Identifiers.
ESN stands for Electronic Serial Number and was/is used in the United States to identify cell phones that require a CDMA network for wireless service. ESNs are slowly being phased out in favor of the MEID, a longer number that is more similar to the IMEI number which is used in GSM and UMTS cell phones.
A Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) is 14 digits long and is used to identify a cell phone that utilizes the CDMA technology for wireless service. CDMA phones don’t typically have SIM cards and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) is just a type of technology used for wireless phone service.
Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular are all wireless communications service providers that use the CDMA technology to provide service to their customers.
An International Mobile Station Equipment Identity or IMEI for short is a number that identifies mobile phones that run on a GSM network.
GSM is just another type of wireless technology used for mobile service.
AT&T and T-Mobile are both wireless carriers that use GSM technology to provide their customers with wireless service.
So what does all this mean?
Nothing much for the average phone owner; in a nutshell if you have a phone that runs on the CDMA network then your phone is going to have an MEID number. If your phone uses GSM technology for wireless service then your phone is going to have an IMEI number. It’s as simple as that.
What can they be used for?
These numbers are actually very important for cell phones and the mobile phone industry.
If a cell phone is lost or stolen then that cell phones wireless provider can block that phones IMEI/MEID number and that specific phone will no longer be able to connect to a wireless network and will no longer have service. The device will be pretty much worthless as a phone. This is great as is discourages theft and fraud.
IMEI numbers are also used by wireless carriers to look up what kind of phone you have, when you activated that phone for the first time (they can see your activation date and time to the second), and they can see what telephone numbers have been used on a specific phone using that phones IMEI/MEID number. This is also a powerful tool as the first used date of that phone can show the phones warranty date and when that phone is out of warranty.
If you contact a phones warranty department then chances are they might just want the IMEI/MEID/ESN or S/N number off that phone not only to check the warranty date but also to make sure that they receive the correct phone if it needs to be sent in to be repaired or replaced.
This is a good way to track common issues as well. If there seems to be a common problem that is occurring on a specific cell phone the manufacture can cross reference the phones IMEI/MEID numbers to see if the phone was produced around a specific time or specific location. If a pattern emerges the manufacture can tag specific IMIE numbers that were assigned to the bad batch of phones and add those phones to a known defect list.
This all happens behind the scenes of course and users of these cell phones are not guaranteed to experience any issues whatsoever but it’s a powerful tool to track such things. And if a known issue is a physical problem like a defective piece of hardware (like a volume key for example) then the cell phone user is less likely to be considered at fault for physical damage when they try to file a warranty claim as it’s a known issue with the phone.
Since physical damage voids a phones warranty then a known issue could mean the difference between getting the cell phone repaired or replacement for free by the phones carrier or phones manufacture, or having to buy another phone which can be expensive. Especially if your still locked in a contract and don’t have the option to upgrade yet.
Other uses for the IMEI and MEID
Buying a used cell phone
This is also an important thing to keep in mind when buying a used phone. If the description of the phone for sell says “bad ESN” “bad IMEI” or “bad MEID” then the phone is not going to be able to connect to a wireless network and is not going to be able to make and receive calls, so unless you are buying the phone for replacement parts you might want to think twice before buying it.
Tracking – lost or stolen cell phones
Some third party applications claim to be able to help you track your phone in the event that it gets stolen. Using your specific device (often with its Device Identifier) and through the use of the phones GPS feature. These applications need to be installed on the phone before it gets stolen, and offer no guarantee of helping you locate or recover your stolen phone.
The idea is sound, but often there are no guarantees when it comes to stolen or lost phones.
Tracking – Repair and replacements
Earlier in the article I mentioned that IMIEs are a powerful tool of cell phone manufactures and wireless carriers because it aids them in tracking their equipment. But don’t forget that it can also protect you as well.
If you ship your phone in to get it repaired or are sending in a malfunctioning phone after receiving a replacement and then a week or two later your phone comes back all smashed up with a letter inside letting you know that the phone was returned damaged and is no longer under warranty, but when you sent in your phone it was perfectly fine, and not only is this phone broken, but doesn’t quite feel like your phone then you can compare the IMEI/MEID of the phone you sent in to the one that you got back to make sure it’s even the phone you had in the first place. If it’s not then there was a mix-up and you should certainly point that out to the people you were sending your phone into for repair or replacement.
Insurance or warranty claims through your Point of Sale
One minor thing to keep in mind and that I feel like I should mention about IMEIs is a little grey area when choosing to buy phone protection through your POS (Point of Sale). If you buy your phone through a reputable retailer, let’s say… Best Buy for example, who offers you an extended warranty through their store for an additional fee then they typically require you to return the exact same phone you purchased from them when filing that warranty claim.
So let me try to explain in more detail. If you buy a phone from a retail location, pay to have that phone insured through that retail location as opposed to purchasing protection through your wireless carrier or an insurance provider like Asurion, and that phone malfunctions. You must take it back to that retail location to have it replaced and must not choose to file a warranty claim or insurance claim through your wireless provider because if you do, the retails warranty that you purchased is going to be void because the phone you received as a replacement for your warranty claim is not the same phone that you purchased at that retail location, and as such their IMEI numbers are not going to match.
So if you choose to buy an extended warranty from your Point of Sale, make sure to use that extended warranty first, before filing a manufactures warranty claim. That way there are no problems later and it will not only save you the money you spent on the extended warranty but a lot of time and frustration later on down the road.
So now you know
I hope that this has article has shed some light on that mysterious IMEI or MEID number shown on your cell phone. If you have found this article informative or helpful you can let me know that you liked it by leaving a friendly comment or by simply pressing the Facebook Like button or Google + button below. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out some of the other interesting articles on the site.