Why you need the IMEI number on a locked iPhone and how you can use it can be a bit confusing. If the owner owns the device, unlocking it is a simple process using Apple credentials, even with a forgotten passcode. However, if the iPhone is locked at the Apple ID level, finding the IMEI seems unimportant as the phone remains non-functional until it is unlocked from a previous Apple ID.

One possible scenario where the IMEI becomes relevant is if you have a faulty iPhone; you may need the IMEI to check the warranty status. You can follow the steps below if the need arises to obtain the IMEI of a locked or malfunctioning iPhone.

A quick guide to using IMEI 

International Mobile Equipment Identification Number (IMEI). IMEI performs various vital functions in mobile devices.

  1. Phone identification: Service providers use the IMEI to identify phones uniquely. Combining the IMEI and the SIM card or eSIM creates a unique pairing that allows the phone to be identified and operate seamlessly on the network.
  2. Device Identification: Despite its conventionally unique nature, the IMEI serves to identify the phone. Historically, the IMEI was used to verify Apple’s warranty status, but modern practice requires the use of a serial number for such verifications. The conditionally unique aspect relates to the possibility of easy replication, as the IMEI is assigned by various registrars and written into the radio module during production. This allows counterfeit iPhones to be created when IMEI numbers are illegally copied from the pool of genuine devices.

Finding the IMEI number on a broken iPhone

If your iPhone is not tied to an Apple ID, you can find the IMEI number in several places, and how to do this depends on the iPhone model:

  1. IMEI number on the box: if you have the box, you’ll find the IMEI number on it; this works on any generation iPhone.
  2. On the SIM card tray: if it’s an iPhone 3G or a later model phone before the iPhone 14, you can find the IMEI number on the tray. If it’s an iPhone 14 and later model, they either don’t have a SIM card tray or the IMEI number is no longer printed. SIM cards are slowly becoming an unnecessary relic.
  3. Back of iPhone: If you have an ancient iPhone 6 or iPhone 5, you can find the number on the back cover of the phone.

Now, let’s talk about how to find the IMEI number on a broken phone and which phone models it works with.

The IMEI number is on the packing box

At the factory, after the phone is tested, a sticker is printed on the box and stuck to the box. This sticker contains all the information about the phone. It has not only IMEI number but also serial number, MEID and so on. If your phone has two radio modules, it will have two IMEI numbers.

IMEI number on the SIM card tray

Historically, the IMEI number was printed on the SIM card tray. It’s not exactly clear why, perhaps it was just a gimmick. Even when necessary, it’s not easy to read such small information, the font is very small. Here are the iPhone models that have the IMEI number printed on the SIM tray.

iPhone 13iPhone SE (3rd generation)iPhone X
iPhone 13 miniiPhone SE (2nd generation)iPhone 8
iPhone 13 ProiPhone 11iPhone 8 Plus
iPhone 13 Pro MaxiPhone 11 ProiPhone 7
iPhone 12iPhone 11 Pro MaxiPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 12 miniiPhone XSiPhone 6s
iPhone 12 ProiPhone XS MaxiPhone 6s Plus
iPhone 12 Pro MaxiPhone XRiPhone 3G/3Gs
iPhone 4/4s

IMEI number on the back of the iPhone

There was a period when Apple printed the IMEI on the back of the iPhone, it was short lived but it was from 2012-2015. Then Apple abandoned the idea. Given that these phones are obsolete I don’t think you will have a need to look for the IMEI.

Find the IMEI number on the locked iPhone.

If you don’t know the Apple ID of your iPhone, find the IMEI number as described above. However, finding the IMEI is easy if you own the device and it’s tied to your Apple ID. Here’s how to do it:

Via appleid.apple.com

  1. Go to appleid.apple.com and log in using your Apple ID.
  2. Find the “Your Devices” section of your account page and get information about the devices tied to your Apple ID.

Via Finder or iTunes: For example, for devices that don’t have a working screen:

  1. Connect your device to your computer.
  2. On a Mac running macOS Catalina 10.15 or newer, open Finder, and on a Mac or Windows computer of an earlier version, open iTunes.
  3. In Finder, make sure the General tab is open. In iTunes, click the General tab.
  4. Find the device whose information you want to view, including IMEI/MEID and ICCID numbers.

The program will check the devices linked to your Apple ID when you log in to iTunes. If the connected phone belongs to you, you can access information about it.

Contacting Support Apple

You can also contact support. Support will guide you through a possible path to find the information.

Call support and follow the automated prompts to connect to a support representative.
Before contacting support, gather necessary information such as device information, serial numbers, and a clear description of the problem.
Clearly explain the problem or issue to the support representative, providing details that will help you resolve the situation quickly.

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