Buying Used Cell Phone? Check for Bad ESN/IMEI Number

We all love our cell phones so much that we can’t even think of spending a day without it. It happened to me recently when I lost my phone on road. I have a Samsung Note 2 which I really liked. Fortunately, I also have mobile insurance plan which allowed me to get a replacement device (for some cost) within couple of days but spending those two days were not easy. This was when I came to know about an all different world of used phones and the ESN numbers.

So for all those who are new to this and don’t have much information on buying used phones, here are some useful facts that you should know. These days almost all the major carriers sell their phones with a contract for like 12 months or 24 months, which is why they sell the phones at a very cheap rate of like $200 (for a phone which is about $600). So why are they heavily subsidizing this? The answer is simple; they wish to keep their customers with them for a long time.

While this idea suits many people, there are others who don’t like to stay that long with any network and want to be free. Thus they also look for some used phone in the market which is unlocked. Now, you can get a genuinely used phone which is legal to use but chances are you might also get a blacklisted phone too. In case you are already looking for some used phone, then you might have come across some terms known as ESN or IMEI.

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ESN is short for Electronic Serial Number and is a number printed on the back of the phone underneath the battery to uniquely identify it. Similarly it is the IMEI number which is present for all the GSM phones. Now, if someone had lost a phone or someone had stolen a device, then that phone will get blacklisted by the network so that it can’t be used again on that network (and the ESN will now be known as Bad ESN). Same is the case if someone decides to quit a contract without paying the pending amount.

So should we buy Used phones?

Yes, there is no stopping on buying the used phones as long as they are clean ESNs/IMEI and can be used with the network of your choice. While no one will tell you if the ESN is bad, but what you should do to be sure is call your network operator and provide them the ESN/IMEI to check whether the phone is clean to use on their network or not.

If the number is clean, then go ahead and buy the phone else better to stay away from the people who want to phish you. After all, it is still your own hard earned money.

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