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What to do if your iPhone has bad ESN or blacklisted IMEI?

If you’re an iPhone owner and ‘bad ESN’ or ‘Blacklisted EMI’ reads like technical mumbo-jumbo to you, chances are you’ve never slummed it out in Ebay or Craigslist to get a sweet iPhone for half the prize. But if you have, then you may know one simple fact: not all iPhones bought from these sweet alternatives are acquired in a legal way. Sure, not all devices belong to this category. But the truth is that some of these iPhones are stolen. To prevent misuse, network carriers have started blacklisting EMIs of iPhones that were not paid for by their owners or which were reported stolen, missing. An iPhone with a Blacklisted EMI or a bad ESN means you won’t receive a network signal even after inserting a valid sim. But if you’re a faithful reader, you know that we never discuss a real-life bad scenario without offering a solution. And the solution is iPhoneMei.

But before looking at the solution, let’s explore the gravity of the problem that a lot of us iPhone lovers may run into at least once in our lives. We’ll begin by looking at IMEI number and ESN before finding out how to test if our iPhone is blacklisted. Then we would move on to solutions and discuss the marvel that is iPhoneMei.

Part 1: Basic information about IMEI number and ESN

What is IMEI number?

IMEI stands for "International Mobile Equipment Identity". It’s a 14 to 16 digits long number and it’s unique for every iPhone and it’s the identification of your device. The IMEI is much like a Social Security Number, but for phones. An iPhone can’t be used with a different SIM card unless you make a visit to the Apple Store or where ever the iPhone was purchased from. The IMEI thus also serves a security purpose.

iPhone imei number check

What is an ESN?

ESN stands for "Electronic Serial Number" and it’s a unique number for each device that works as a way of identification of a CDMA device. In the U.S. there are some carriers that work on a CDMA network: Verizon, Sprint, U.S. Cellular, so if you are with any of these carriers you have an ESN number attached to your device.

What is a Bad ESN?

You are trying to activate the device with a carrier, but the activation fails. Bad ESN may be one of the reasons why activation fails. A Bad ESN can be due to the below reasons:

  1. The previous owner of the device switched carriers without fulfilling the contract.
  2. The previous owner had an outstanding amount on their bill and canceled the account without paying the bill first.
  3. The previous owner didn’t have a bill when they canceled the account but they were still under a contract and if you cancel sooner than the due date for the contract, an "early termination fee" is created based on the remaining period of the contract and they hadn’t paid that amount.
  4. The person that sold you the phone or someone else who was the actual owner of the device reported the device as lost or stolen.

What is a blacklisted IMEI?

Blacklisted IMEI is basically the same thing as Bad ESN but for devices that work on GSM and UMTS networks, like AT&T or T-Mobile. In short, the main reason that a device has a Blacklisted IMEI is so that you as the owner or someone else cannot activate the device on any carrier, not even the original one, thus avoiding selling or stealing the phone.

Part 2: How to check if your iPhone is blacklisted?

In order to check if an iPhone is blacklisted, you need to first retrieve your IMEI or ESN number to check if it’s blacklisted.

How to find the IMEI or ESN numbers?

1. On the original box of the iPhone, usually around the barcode: To locate this, fetch the Box that your iPhone came in. Turn it over, and look near the barcode. You should see a 15-digit number next to the text IMEI/MEID. This is the IMEI number.

iPhone imei number check

2. Alternatively, you can find it on your iPhone by:

  1. Clicking Settings ;
  2. Tapping General;
  3. Then clicking on About.
  4. Then you should see a 15-digit number listed next to IMEI

How to verify if your iPhone is blacklisted?

dr.fone has a super-slick and efficient online tool wherein you can verify whether your iPhone has a blacklisted IMEI. The tool is simple. You just need to enter the IMEI or ESN, enter your details, and you’ll soon receive all the information you need!

Part 3: What to do if your iPhone has bad ESN or blacklisted IMEI?

1. Use it as a gaming console or iPod

Before trying the above step, try restoring/reinstalling using iTunes and insert a fresh sim card when the method prompts you to insert one. If this method fails, your phone has a bad ESN or a blacklisted IMEI.

Smartphones have a whole lot of functionality besides being able to place calls. You can install a bunch of different video games in it, you can use it to surf the internet, watch videos on YouTube, download music and videos to it. You can even install apps like Skype and use Skype call as an alternative to phone calling.

iPhone blacklisted imei

2. Ask the seller for a refund

If you bought the device with the bad ESN newly from a retailer or online shop, you might be in luck as they can provide you with a refund or at least a replacement, depending on their policy. For example, Amazon and eBay have refund policies.

With Ebay, you may have to ship it back to the seller, who would have to confirm that the iPhone is in order before eBay could refund your money.

Unfortunately, if you got the phone from someone you found on the street, or from a seller over sources like Craigslist, this might not be possible. Because usually, people use temporary email addresses or phone numbers. But there are still other things you can do. Scroll below for more options!

iPhone blacklisted imei

3. Get the IMEI or ESN Cleaned

Depending on your carrier, you can see if they entertain requests to remove your IMEI from the blacklist.

However, if you have a blacklisted iPhone that’s locked by T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, (UK), EE (UK) and Orange (UK), there may be a way of removing it from the list. Unfortunately, many other network are still not supported.

iPhone has bad esn

4. Swap the Logic Board

The thing about a blacklisted IMEI is that it’s only blacklisted in a particular country. An unlocked AT&T iPhone blacklisted in the US would still function in Australia on another network.

If you want to use it in the same country, then you may have to physically replace baseband and chips. While this is possible if you have an iPhone 4 or an earlier model, trying this in later models may cause some possible irreparable damage. This is not a recommended solution.

iPhone blacklisted imei

5. Unlock it and then Sell it

After you unlock your iPhone you can sell it to foreigners at a lowered rate. A lot of foreigners including tourists and students come to America every day. The fact that the IMEIs of iPhones are only blacklisted locally works in your favor. Once they carry the iPhones back to their home countries even iPhones with a bad ESN should work. So foreigners and tourists might be persuaded to buy your iPhone if you throw in a big enough discount.

However, in the interest of honesty, do remember to explain to your potential buyer that iPhone is blacklisted in the current location but will still work fine in their country.

iPhone has bad esn

6. Take it apart and sell the spare parts

iPhone is a premium device. This means that most of its hardware components should fetch a good prize should you choose to dismember it and sell its parts.

The back casing, screen, dock connector and even the logic board, can all be sold separately. It may help someone with a broken iPhone and one of the parts may help revive his or her iPhone again. These may be used to help out other broken iPhones.

what if iPhone has bad esn

7. Sell internationally

You can always put your blacklisted iPhone on Ebay, which has a presence in a lot of countries. As mentioned earlier, you can unlock the phone with the blacklisted IMEI. However, since it’s only blacklisted locally, you can sell it internationally where it would still have value. Again, please don’t fail to mention that the phone is blacklisted, but unlocked. This is just to prevent any dispute in the near future.

iPhone bad esn

8. Flash phone to another carrier

This is an ideal option for those who don’t mind changing carriers. You can flash a phone to another carrier, as long as they accept it, and pretty soon you’ll have a functional phone! In some cases, however, you might land with a 3G connection instead of a 4G.

bad esn iPhone 7

9. Determine Hybrid GSM/CDMA Phones

If your phone cannot activate on a CDMA carrier like Verizon or Sprint, the IMEI can still be used on a GSM network. Most phones manufactured these days come with a GSM standard nano or micro sim card slot and have GSM radio enabling for a GSM network. Most of them also come factory unlocked as well.

iPhone 6s bad esn

Part 4: How to unlock a phone with bad ESN or blacklisted IMEI?

Finally, we reach the point where we discuss the premium solution to the problem of bad ESN. iPhoneMei is the leader when it comes to unlocking an iPhone with a blacklisted IMEI. The best aspect of iPhoneMei. Is that you don’t need to download any app or application. All is taken care of in a simple three-step process over WiFi.

Below are the impressive features of iPhoneMei online tool:

  1. 1. Your iPhone will be unlocked automatically Over-The-Air, simply connect it to a Wifi network (Available for iOS 7, iOS 8, iOS 9, iOS 10 or higher, iOS 6 or lower should be unlocked by iTunes)
  2. 2. Features such as iMessenger, FaceTime, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, Contacts, calling etc. will continue to work well without any restriction
  3. 3. Upgrading iOS and restoring or syncing with iTunes still works without the phone getting locked again.
  4. 4. 100% refund if the service can’t unlock your iPhone for any reason.

Now let’s see the simple three-step process offered by iPhoneMei that will unlock your iPhone!

Step 1: Select Apple brand

Go to the online tool: iPhoneMei. Then select the model of iPhone that you wish to unlock.

iPhone imei number check

Step 2: Select iPhone model and the carrier

Select carrier from a drop-down list that your iPhone is locked to.

Step 3: Click Unlock

Clicking unlock will take you the below screen. The iPhone model will be pre-populated with the choice that you made in the first step. Now all you need to do is enter the IMEI using the steps mentioned earlier and then click Unlock. If the IMEI is valid, you would be directed to pay the amount mentioned. The price varies with the model and the network selected in the first two steps. That’s it. That’s all you need to do to get your precious iPhone unlocked!

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