What is the IMEI number?
IMEI number (for International mobile equipment identity) defines the identification number of a mobile device (mobile phone, smartphone, tablet). It is a code or number consisting of 15 to 17 digits and which contains some essential information such as:
- the country of manufacture of the appliance (the first two digits);
- device serial number (the next six digits);
- security key (last digit).
In practice, the IMEI number allows mobile operators to identify devices. After this identification step, the mobile phone operators then decide to approve or deny access to their mobile network for this device.
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The IMEI code of a mobile phone or smartphone should not be confused with the PUK code. The PUK code has nothing to do with the IMEI number. It is simply a code that allows you to unlock your mobile phone when the device’s SIM card is locked (after three incorrect entries of the PIN code).
What is the IMEI number used for?
The IMEI number has two main functions:
- unlock the SIM card in case of change of mobile phone operator;
- block the use of the mobile phone in case of loss or theft.
Change operator with IMEI number
This is the most common situation that justifies getting the IMEI number: unlocking your mobile phone or smartphone so you can use it with another mobile operator’s network. As mentioned above, the IMEI number is in fact an identification number, which makes it possible to obtain permission from a mobile phone operator to access the mobile network. When you buy a mobile phone, it is not uncommon for it to be “locked” to work only with the mobile phone provider you have signed up for. When you change operator, it is therefore necessary to unlock the device to access the new operator’s mobile network. We are also talking about unlocking.
Block the mobile phone with the IMEI number in case of loss or theft
Have you lost or had your mobile phone stolen? One of the first reflexes to use is to notify your mobile phone operator’s customer service to inform them of the situation. The latter can actually block your cell phone line from being used by a malicious person. In case of theft, the gendarmes or the police can ask you for the IMEI number on your smartphone when you file a complaint. This information can then be used by your mobile operator to register your device’s IMEI number in the list of stolen phones. Your phone will therefore be blocked for prohibiting its use by a third party on all mobile networks.
To note: In this context, it is often advisable for those who want to buy a used mobile phone from an individual to consult the list of blacklisted IMEIs. This list, which is available online, ensures that the phone offered for sale has not been stolen and is not blocked for use on various mobile networks.
Where can I find the IMEI number?
There are several solutions to finding the IMEI number on a mobile phone or smartphone. The most common option is to type * # 06 # on the device keyboard. Regardless of the model of your device, the IMEI number is then displayed on the screen. Depending on the brand of your mobile phone, it is also possible to get the IMEI number in the phone settings. Sometimes the IMEI number is also indicated on or under the phone battery. If you no longer have your phone and you still need to find the corresponding IMEI number, you should finally know that you can get it:
- on the purchase invoice for your device or on its packaging;
- by contacting your mobile operator directly.
For practical and anticipatory reasons, it is often recommended to write down this IMEI number somewhere to gain quick access to it if necessary.
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