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How to Instantly Check if Your Phone’s ESN is Clean

Short of calling the carrier or manufacturer specific to the phone or device, most providers don’t offer a quick way of checking if an ESN is clean and clear. If you are buying a phone online, or have just purchased a used phone off of eBay, a clean ESN is necessary for your phone to be used on its default service.

Wait… What is an ESN?

An ESN is a serial number attached to every phone on a CDMA network like Sprint or Verizon. Instead of using a SIM card like GSM networks do (At&t or T-Mobile), a CDMA ESN is a unique identifier that allows the phone to be validated and connect to the cell tower. To thwart confusion: if you have a SIM card then you probably don’t have an ESN attached to your phone. If a phone is stolen, claimed as an insurance loss, or used illegally, the carrier will usually blacklist the ESN attached to that phone. A blacklisted ESN renders a phone unable to connect to the provider that issued it.

CheckESNFree is an instant online webtool used by thousands of phone resellers across the internet. ESN checks done on this service aren’t quite as reliable as checking directly with the service provider, however they are usually close enough.

Just visit the web site, type in your ESN, and click the Check button.

  • Note: The ESN is also known as the MEID and is usually found on the back of the phone underneath the battery.

check phone esn online

If the ESN is good, you’ll see a green message saying it’s clean. If the ESN is bad, you’ll see a red message saying so. It’s pretty straight forward.

check esn free

That’s all there is to checking a phone’s ESN status online. A used phone can save you hundreds of dollars off of the retail price, but it isn’t without its risks. Keep in mind that when buying a used phone, if the original owner reports it stolen before you make the switch the ESN will not be usable. However, you can usually circumvent this by showing the cellular provider proof of the sale. When all else fails, contact the service provider directly.

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13 Responses to How to Instantly Check if Your Phone’s ESN is Clean

  1. Rily July 17, 2012 at 5:14 am #

    I’m confused. Your photo on the newsletter is an iPhone and iPhones have SIM cards. In your article it says if you have a SIM card then you probably do not have an ESN number. So iPhones do or do not have and ESN number?

    • Austin Krause July 17, 2012 at 9:18 am #

      The iPhones for Sprint and Verizon are either CDMA or Worldphone. If they are CDMA, they don’t have a SIM card slot and instead authenticate using an ESN baked into the phone’s modem firmware.

      If the iPhone is a Worldphone, it can connect to both GSM or CDMA. This means it still has a SIM card slot, and it has a ESN baked into the firmware. The upside to the Worldphone is that even if the ESN is bad, you can still connect to GSM networks via the SIM card as GSM networks do not check your ESN when authenticating.

      Hope that helps!

  2. James January 10, 2013 at 4:01 am #

    are you saying that to use my Pantech phone as a GoPhone from someone else’s account all I would need to do is to buy a new sim card and activate the new sim card useing the GoPhone service?

    • Austin Krause January 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      If the phone has a SIM card, this ESN article doesn’t apply to it.(Unless it’s a worldphone, see the comment below).

  3. Tricia February 22, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    I have a HTC EVO that was on the sprint network. My mom couldnt pay her bill and the service was cancelled. She gave me the phone can I take the sim card out of that phone and put a straight talk sim card in and use it on the straight talk service?

  4. buck March 23, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    What happens if its yellow ?

  5. Bill June 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    If you buy a phone with a bad ESN and want to use it with a carrier who uses Sprint’s network such as Virgin, will it work or be blocked? Thanks.

  6. Billy July 22, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Bad ESN usually means you can not activate it with the original carrier. You can flash a phone with a bad ESN to another carrier in most cases without issue. Some carriers like sprint will not take a bad ESN from any carrier even if it is flashed, others like Cricket could care less. If you flash a phone with a bad ESN, a lot of carriers will still take it.

  7. malik August 16, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

    Showing 3 boxes one box saying VERISON 18.08.2013 invalid esn second box saying NCIC clean esn and third sayin MSP.COM CLEAN ESN
    I am really confused whats that means its clean or not ????

  8. deathtrip August 27, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    It means you entered an invalid ESN for Verizon.

    NCIC is a database hosted by the FBI and CJIS of stolen electronics (among other things) where many law enforcement agencies enter the ESN, MEID, or IMEI of devices reported stolen. This is just a courtesy only.

    MSPcom is MyStolenPhone.com – a site/service we offer for free to help build awareness to lost or stolen mobile devices. At MSPcom you can submit your lost or stolen device’s ESN, MEID, or IMEI so that if it is ever searched by one of the thousands of services that use CheckESNFree.com, we can alert the individual who “checked” the device and let them know it has been reported to us as being lost or stolen and provide them with the contact details of the individual who reported it.

  9. Kaycee September 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    I have a iphone 5 that couldnt be paid so its blacklist I want to use it on a pre paid but the esn is bad how can I get around this it is thru t mobile I didnt know t mobile esn matter since it is SIMS used

  10. deathtrip September 17, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    If the phone is a T-Mobile phone and the bill was not paid, the device is now on the “blocklist” for T-Mobile, meaning that the device’s IMEI can not be used on T-Mobile or any of T-Mobile’s MVNOs. When I say any of their MVNOs, I mean any prepaid company who uses T-Mobile’s towers/network.

    If it isn’t flagged as lost or stolen, you can use it on AT&T or any of AT&T’s prepaid services.

  11. Richard G September 21, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    I have just purchased a iphone 4s sprint unlocked with clean ems.
    Can I use with Rogers (sim card ) I believe like AT&T ??

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