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 connected to that phone. A blacklisted ESN renders a phone unable to connect to the provider that issued it.
CheckESNFree is an instant online web tool 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 website, 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.
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.
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 was 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.