To begin, first off, you are probably here because you found a smartphone on eBay that has a “bad ESN”, which your not sure if you want to purchase it because you don’t know what a “bad ESN” is. I’ve seen them on eBay myself, and I myself being a nerd and usually knowing what those things are, I did not know until now. Usually a cell phone on eBay with a bad ESN, in good cosmetic shape, sells for alot cheaper than a regular phone. Theoretically you could use that cell phone on another carrier that doesn’t have bad records behind it, anyways read what I’ve compiled below in the following Q’s and A’s:
Q: What a “bad ESN” is:
A: A “bad ESN” means Electronic Serial Number, which is a phone that can’t be activated within the carrier it was manufactured from for a number of reasons. It could be because that the original owner was not satisfied with their carrier and they switched carriers, or they had a dispute in the billing process within their contract with that carrier and the owner canceled the service without paying the early termination fee, or the owner was behind on paying their bill. The ESN could also be bad because the cell phone was reported stolen or lost.
Q: If I want to buy a cell phone with a bad ESN, could I just simply use it with another carrier instead?:
A: Most of the biggest CDMA carriers won’t activate a cell phone coming from another carrier. And there are other smaller carriers that could, though the cell phone will need to be flashed in some sort of way to be compatible and this is not always free.
Q: A buddy of mine just purchased a AT&T phone and now he is using it with T-Mobile, could I just purchase a T-Mobile phone and use it with AT&T?:
A: Both AT&T and T-Mobile are GSM carriers which they require a SIM card. The friend of yours used an “unlocked” phone by using a special code that allows it to be used with another carrier with the other carrier’s SIM.
Q: How could I find out if the cell phone with the “bad ESN” was just stolen or just lost?:
A: Most of the mobile carriers out there won’t give details on if the phone was reported “stolen” or reported “lost”, they will only tel you if it had been reported “lost or stolen”. So it doesn’t make sense for someone on eBay to sell a phone that has been reported “lost or stolen”, because you can’t tell which one it is.
Q: Could I use applications or even browse the internet with a phone that has a bad ESN?:
A: Internet browsing and applications will usually work on most phones that have “bad ESN’s”, as long as the phone has Wi-Fi access and it is connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Q: I broke my phone and the screen cracked, so if I sell it will it have a bad ESN?:
A: No because, hardware damage hasn’t got anything to do with the ESN on the phone, thats simply damage done to the phone on your part. The only thing that makes a phone have a “bad ESN” is the status in the carrier’s records of the phone, according to the usage of the owner. If you had received a replacement phone through some insurance company, so you were probably then requested to send the broken phone in, so in this case the ESN would be bad.
Q: Who would want to buy a “bad ESN” cell phone if they couldn’t make phone calls?:
A: There are a number of reasons why someone would buy a cell phone with a bad ESN. The user my simply want a device that can play games, music and can connect to Wi-Fi. If you were a developer of software (a programmer), you may want to test mobile apps you’ve made on the phone to see if they work. If the user dropped his cell phone and damaged it without insurance, it could be cheaper to buy a cell phone with a “bad ESN” and use it for parts instead of buy a whole new one, if that person knew what they were doing. Also note that you won’t be able to use the logic board from a cell phone with a bad ESN, since that’s where the “bad ESN” is stored.
Q: If I wanted to cell my cell phone, how do I make sure the ESN is clear directly before I try to sell it?:
A: There are numerous steps that you will have to take, and it depends on the carrier. First off, if your contract isn’t over with the carrier itself, you need to pay the very last bill and also the early termination fee before you sell the phone. If your contract is over already with the carrier and you are paying on a month to month basis on a prepaid plan, you will need to let your carrier know that you are canceling your service to and then you need to pay your final bill before you sell it. You could also find another phone to use instead of the one your using currently (being the one you want to sell) and then you can sell it that way. The procedures are different per every carrier, so it’s best to just contact the carrier if your in doubt.