Monthly Archives: November 2017

Significance of IMEI information of Smartphones

Not many people around the globe know about IMEI number. This is understandable because it is used in specific situations unlike your SIM number or mobile number. IMEI number is usually imprinted on phone batteries alongside serial number but there are couple of other ways to retrieve this info. Everyone should be aware of this unique number associated with their phone as it has some important purpose.

Brief overview of IMEI Number

Before explaining IMEI, it is necessary to know about terrestrial cellular networks. All modern smartphones use what is called as terrestrial cellular network for voice calls and data. To explain in laymen terms, a terrestrial cellular network is based entirely on earth as opposed to satellite networks which make use of satellites.

Now, all devices that are based on terrestrial cellular networks have a unique device identifier which is called IMEI. So, IMEI is not just applicable for smartphones but also for tablets and data cards. You may wonder why dual SIM phones have two IMEI numbers, this is just for the ease of network switching.

Real purpose of IMEI

Well, the main purpose as stated above is to uniquely identify mobile devices. But, the real intended purpose for IMEI is to prevent mobile theft and misuse. Let’s say your phone gets stolen, you can still easily track your phone using IMEI tracker online or cloud accounts associated to your phone. In case of iPhones, it is iCloud and for android phones, it is Android Device Manager. Besides tracking the phone, you can also get the IMEI blacklisted which will make your de-activate your device permanently. One should note that IMEI numbers are linked with device hardware, so it is extremely difficult to change them without corrupting the device.

Typically, when you report about the lost or stolen device to your carrier, they will immediately blacklist the IMEI.

Who else can access your IMEI info?

The government can sometimes use IMEI to access your personal information as part of security check. This is however not feasible for prepaid customers as there are no contracts, so carriers don’t maintain database for such customers like they do for contractual customers. But even for contractual customers, government needs legal permission such as a search warrant to access private data. So, you need not worry about it unless there is a threat to national security and government must do this exercise.

Replacing SIM card on your device does not change the IMEI, so the device can still be easily traced. But there is another group of people who can do real damage by misusing your personal information. Hackers often steal such information with malicious intent. Hence, it is important to keep your IMEI information secured and install security mechanism on your phone.

Is it mandatory for every phone to have IMEI

The short answer is yes. There are legal implications if a phone doesn’t have IMEI. A decade ago, there was no legal enforcement with regards to IMEI, but it all changed with rise in mobile thefts. Today, if you spot a phone with missing IMEI then it is almost certain that the device is fake or stolen.

However, there is one exception to this requirement. Intelligence agencies around the globe often use devices without IMEI to avoid traceability.

Checking validity of IMEI

When you buy a new phone from a trusted seller, you can rest assured that the IMEI will be valid and legal. But in case of used phones, it is bit tricky. Hence, you should be extra careful while purchasing used phones as some of them might look nice on the outside but will have blacklisted IMEI’s. There are many tools online where you can check validity of IMEI.