Do you know the difference between a MEID and an IMEI number? If not, don’t worry. I’m here to help. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different things.
I’ll break things down for you so that you can understand the difference – it’s easy really.
In this article you’ll find all of the information you need about these two important numbers for your phone.
By the end you will be an expert!
No more confusion about MEID vs IMEI.
So let’s get started!
IMEI is short for International Mobile Station Equipment Identity number. Every device that connects to a GSM cellular network has a unique 15 digit IMEI number. Your phone, tablet, and every device that connects to a network has one.
IMEI numbers are unique to the device, so even if someone swaps out your SIM card, you can still track or locate your device using the IMEI number.
Every phone that uses the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) system has an IMEI number. For example if you have an AT&T or T-Mobile cellular plan, your device uses the GSM system.
The GSM system is the most commonly used mobile system.
MEID stands for Mobile Equipment Identifier. This is a 14 digit number that is specific to your phone. With your MEID number, mobile operators can see when your phone is reported as lost or stolen and if you have outstanding bills.
MEID numbers can be found on devices using the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) system. Verizon and Sprint carriers in the US use CDMA networks.
MEID numbers are ‘burned’ into the device itself and it is impossible to modify them.
For devices that have both IMEI and MEID numbers, the MEID number is the same as the IMEI number minus the last digit.
IMEI vs MEID
They might sound similar, but IMEI and MEID numbers are different. Think of it like this: if the IMEI number is like a Social Security Number for your phone, the MEID number is its fingerprint. Their purpose is to uniquely identify cellular devices, but they are functionally different. Here’s how:
- IMEI is used by devices using the GSM system (AT&T or T-Mobile), whereas the MEID is used by CDMA networks (Verizon, Sprint or US Cellular networks).
- Not all phones have both an IMEI and MEID number.
- MEID numbers are 15 digits whereas IMEI numbers are 14 digits.
- Their location on your phone will vary depending on the manufacturer and phone type.
Finding Your Phone’s IMEI/MEID Number
There are a couple of ways to check these important numbers. I have a full guide on how to check the IMEI number where it is available. Below is the quick way to check for both versions.
Here’s how to locate your phone’s IMEI or MEID number:
For most cellular devices, looking up IMEI and MEID number is very simple. Open the Phone app or dial pad, and type in *#06#. Your IMEI and MEID numbers will pop up. This trick doesn’t work for Verizon users.
On Android Devices
Go to Settings and click on About Phone. Scroll down and you will find your IMEI/MEID number.
Log in to the Google account associated with your phone on your computer. Navigate to ‘Locate my device’. The IMEI number should be next to your device name.
Go to Settings > General > About. Scroll down and you will find your IMEI/MEID number.
Connect your iPhone to your computer and open iTunes. Select your phone in the Devices menu. Click on the ‘Summary’ tab to find your IMEI/MEID number.
Use any one of these methods.
There now that wasn’t so painful was it? Now you see it’s not a question of MEID vs IMEI they are two distinct numbers with different purposes. It can be a bit confusing but they are important none the less.
Knowing how to get hold of them is important and it is a good idea to have a copy of them off the phone or device. You may need them if your phone is lost or stolen.
Thanks for reading and good luck!