A smartphone’s IMEI number 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 the networks of the operators. There is much more to know about this number specific to each mobile. We tell you everything.
It is also thanks to this number that telephones can make emergency calls even without a SIM card. The IMEI also allows identify smartphones independently of the SIM that is inside.
It is also a way for buyers of used smartphones to hopefully ensure that the cell phone has not been stolen. Thanks to the help of some services that list IMEIs of phones declared as such.
What is the IMEI number?
L’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 smartphone fleets, in particular whether or not they authorize devices on their network. But not only.
The IMEI also allows the operator to automatically know the device type of its subscribers for technical, marketing and customer support purposes.
Indeed, specific fields of the IMEI are allocated for a identification of the manufacturer then the model. Thus, if the operator supports it, it allows him to make an automatic detection of the terminal model.
What is the IMEI number used for?
Concretely, this number allows, in the event of theft, to prohibit the use of the device on the operators network. After a complaint, the IMEI number can be added to a blacklist, and calls then become impossible even if you have a valid SIM card.
Operators are required to block the associated phone within 4 working days from the receipt of the request by the security services. The IMEI is simply added to a national database (blacklist).
It is therefore important to report the theft to a police station or a gendarmerie brigade as soon as possible. The IMEI can also be used by law enforcement agencies in the context of investigations.
Can I access the national IMEI database of stolen phones?
No. The common database is not accessible to the public. So you do not have the option to view blocked IMEI numbers. For example to avoid buying a used phone listed as stolen.
More recently, private sites have offered to record users’ IMEI numbers, especially when their smartphone is declared lost or 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 alternative databases.
Important precision: these databases have nothing to do with the national one. If you want to report a stolen smartphone IMEI number, here are some sample sites:
There are several ways to find the IMEI number of a smartphone. And this, whatever the model or the brand.
If you still have the phone in your possession
- Open the Phone app on your Android smartphone or iPhone
- Dial *#06# and make the call
- The IMEI number of the smartphone is displayed on the screen
- Take a screenshot and save it somewhere in the cloud or copy the code onto a piece of paper. To put in a safe place.
If you no longer have the smartphone in your possession
The IMEI number can be found as follows:
- On the labels on the packaging of the smartphone or on the purchase invoice
- By asking your operator.
Read also: Stolen or lost smartphone: how to react?
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