The Importance of Checking IMEI and ESN Numbers When Buying a Smartphone

The Importance of Checking IMEI and ESN Numbers When Buying a Smartphone


When purchasing a used smartphone, it is essential to check the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) and ESN (Electronic Serial Number) numbers. These unique identifiers play a crucial role in determining the authenticity and status of a device. By verifying these numbers, buyers can ensure that the phone they are purchasing is not stolen or reported as lost. Additionally, sellers need to clear the ESN tied to their device to ensure a smooth and secure transaction. In this article, we will explore why it is important to check IMEI and ESN numbers before buying a smartphone.

Understanding IMEI and ESN Numbers

IMEI Number

The IMEI number is a unique code used to identify mobile devices. It consists of 15 or 17 digits and serves as a digital fingerprint for a specific phone. With the IMEI number, carriers can track a phone's location and provide details such as the model, specifications, and carrier information.

To find the IMEI number on your phone, you can dial *#060#, and it will appear on the screen. For iPhone users, go to Settings, then General, followed by About, and your IMEI information will be displayed. It's important to note that the IMEI number is stored within the phone itself, not on the SIM card.

ESN Number

The ESN number, also known as the Electronic Serial Number, is a unique identifier assigned to CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) devices. It serves a similar purpose to the IMEI number but is specific to CDMA networks. The ESN number allows carriers to identify valid subscribers and the type of equipment being used.

The Importance of Checking IMEI and ESN Numbers

Avoiding Stolen or Lost Devices

One of the primary reasons to check IMEI and ESN numbers is to ensure that the device you are purchasing is not stolen or reported as lost. When a phone is reported as lost or stolen, carriers can block it from their network using the IMEI or ESN number. By verifying these numbers before buying a smartphone, you can avoid purchasing a device that may be blacklisted, preventing it from being activated on any network.

Ensuring Activation and Usability

When purchasing a used phone, it is crucial to verify the IMEI and ESN numbers to ensure that the device can be activated and used without any issues. If the IMEI or ESN number has been reported as lost or stolen, the phone will be unusable. By checking these numbers beforehand, you can save yourself from the frustration of purchasing a device that cannot be activated.

Protecting Personal Data and Security

Clearing the ESN before selling a phone is not only important for financial reasons but also for data security. By ensuring that all previous information, including pictures, contacts, and account details, is wiped from the device, you reduce the risk of your personal data falling into the wrong hands. It is essential to prioritize data security and take the necessary steps to protect your information.

Compliance with Network Providers

When selling a CDMA device, such as a Blackberry, Android phone, or iPhone, it is crucial to clear the ESN from your previous account. Failure to do so may result in the device being unable to be activated by the new user. Additionally, clearing any past due bills and fees associated with the device is necessary to ensure that your network provider clears it for activation by another user.

How to Check IMEI and ESN Numbers

Checking IMEI Numbers

To check the IMEI number of a smartphone, follow these steps:

  1. Dial *#060# on your phone.
  2. The IMEI number will appear on the screen.

For iPhone users:

  1. Go to Settings on your iPhone.
  2. Select General.
  3. Tap on About.
  4. The IMEI number will be displayed.

Checking ESN Numbers

To check the ESN number of a CDMA device, follow these steps:

  1. Contact your network provider and request assistance in verifying the ESN number.
  2. Provide the necessary details and ask them to check the ESN status.
  3. They will inform you if the ESN is clear and ready for activation.


Checking the IMEI and ESN numbers before buying a smartphone is crucial to ensure the device's authenticity, usability, and security. By verifying these unique identifiers, you can avoid purchasing stolen or lost devices and protect your personal data. Sellers should also clear the ESN tied to their device to facilitate a smooth transaction. Prioritizing these steps when buying or selling a smartphone will help you make informed decisions and ensure a positive experience.

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