What is an IMEI Number?

You might have heard the abbreviation “IMEI” and know it relates loosely to the identity of your phone, but do you know exactly what it’s function is and what it is used for? Every new phone sold should have a unique IMEI number that is meant to remain the same for the lifetime of that product.

As smartphones increasingly become the target of theft across the world, the value of an IMEI number – and more importantly having a record of your device’s number – is not to be underestimated.

In this article i will explore why our mobile devices need an IMEI and run through the basic methods that will enable you to find and record yours.

IMEI literally stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity, simply said its your serial number for your hardware device. This is a 14- or 17-digit code that uniquely identifies mobile phone sets. The IMEI code can enable a GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) or UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service) network to prevent a misplaced or stolen phone from initiating calls.


Some sources say a standard IMEI number is a 14 digit decimal string accompanied by an additional check number and an IMEI/SV (with the SV standing for software version) is 16 decimal digits, though these only usually appear on newer devices.

Each and every device should have a unique IMEI to differentiate it from the rest of the pack. When you buy a new phone you may notice the IMEI on the box or even the receipt. If ever you have to take your phone in for repair then there’s a good chance the IMEI will be noted for warranty and identity purposes.

The purpose of an IMEI goes beyond simple identification and the number can be used to block devices from accessing the cellular network. If your phone is stolen and you notify your service provider, they will block the device from their network and in some regions other networks too. Police often keep a record of stolen phones and use IMEI numbers as identification.


These numbers directly relate to the manufacturer and model of the phone. The section of the code labeled on the gadgets is a serial number unique to the handset and defined by the manufacturer. The last digit is a checksum, used for verifying the entire string.

The IMEI is confined to the device, and has no relation to the SIM card. If your phone is stolen, settings reset and the SIM card is replaced, the IMEI will not change without further intervention.

If your phone is stolen and you attempt to block it using the IMEI, be sure to ask your carrier if this block will extend to other networks as well. If not, you might want to try contacting the other major networks in your region to ask what can be done.

In certain regions where Cyber Laws are prevalent changing the IMEI number is illegal without a good reason to do so, and the practice is generally frowned upon as there are very few valid reasons for doing so. This is why we have been crying for Cyber Laws in Zimbabwe.
Watch for How To Find Your IMEI tomorrow

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