Cell phone technology seems simpler and simpler to us, but only for the reason that our smartphones are creeping ever-closer to what we expect from modern laptops and desktop computers. While this is overall a good thing, it allows us to easily overlook some of the tech-savvy workarounds that work best with smartphones. Take, for instance, the process of cloning a phone.
Did you know that it’s possible? Do you know how to go about doing it, or are you aware of the reasons that a person might want to do it in the first place? It’s the topic we’re going to tackle in the article below, so read on if you want some details on phone cloning, the reasons behind it, and whether or not it’s feasible with contemporary smartphones.
Smartphone data is always something of an ambiguous thing, isn’t it? While we’re constantly aware of how much space is left on our computers’ hard drives, the amount of available storage space on a phone can, for some users, never even come to matter. There are plentiful ways to back up the things that might otherwise occupy phone memory so that we never approach full capacity on our cell phones. Before I recently upgraded to a shiny new iPhone 7, I never once had to fret over having enough space on my phone’s drive for more photos, videos, or apps. We can thank iCloud and other cloud storage services for that (which we’ll discuss in greater detail later, of course.)
Similarly, so much of our smartphone activity is app-based that when we do upgrade to a new device, we can practically copy everything over to the new hardware without any hiccup or trouble (providing that the operating systems match up.) Want all of your apps to echo onto the new hardware, just as they were on the old setup? That’s rarely any trouble, anymore, which is joyous good news to people who are upgrading their phones.
However, all of this boils down to the topic of “phone cloning,” or at least, it will shortly. This is a phrase that’s used fairly often whenever someone is idly referencing the process of copying data from one device to another. Rarely is it referencing the actual process of phone cloning, which is much more complex and walks closer to several legality issues.
Is it doable? Absolutely. Does the phrase require a little bit of unpacking, so that we know how to properly apply and use it? Very much so! Without further ado, then, let’s dig into the phone cloning process and see if we can’t provide a simple walkthrough for the process.
What is Phone Cloning?
Before we get started, we should posit a brief disclaimer. We do not condone any type of illegal or fraudulent activity, online or offline, on cell phones or PCs, or anything else that might put yours or another’s personal information at risk. Such activity is not the mission or goal of this article, and thus, all processes that we describe will steer clear of anything crossing lines of legality.
Such a disclaimer is necessary due to the very nature of actual phone cloning, a process that can be used to fraudulently misuse another person’s cell phone number and plan. If you think about the context of the phrase “phone cloning,” that’s not very hard to determine.
- Cloning a cellular phone is, essentially, the process of copying one phone’s identifying information onto another device’s hardware.
- Once a phone has been cloned, cellular carrier signals can no longer differentiate between the information being broadcast and received by each of the devices.
- Because their identifying data and information is the same, phone cloning results in two copies of the same device, which are capable of functioning at the same time.
This process boils down to manipulating two pieces of information on a phone. However, going about doing that is going to differ greatly across the many different types of devices that people are using. The Electronic Serial Number (ESN) is a factory-assigned identification code that’s unique to every mobile device in use. Because it’s meant to be unique, cellular carrier signals use it to identify smartphones. The other piece of significant data is the cellular phone number itself.
Both of these are essential in the phone cloning process, but they’re quite hard to manipulate on any device.
Is Phone Cloning Illegal?
Phone cloning in and of itself is not illegal. If that were the case, it would open up the door to all kinds of very risky, damaging, and infringing policies that dictate how you can and cannot use your own devices.
However, that doesn’t necessarily remove legality from the discussion. Phone cloning is often used illegally, in order to gain fraudulent access to another person’s cell phone data and service. When this happens, it’s certainly bad news, and without a doubt illegal; just as any other fraudulent misuse of another person’s information or possessions is.
According to the FCC, this is a more common problem than people tend to realize, and it’s extremely difficult to prevent. Cell phone signals can be monitored via radio waves, and even this is enough to occasionally catalog and misuse a device’s ESN and cellular number.
So, to summarize–no, phone cloning isn’t inherently illegal. Is it illegal to clone someone else’s phone, and use it for any purpose? Absolutely, and as stated above, it is not something we even remotely condone.
Do I Have to Clone My Phone to Transfer Data to a New Device?
When it comes time to upgrade one’s smartphone, you usually end up transferring all of your apps, data, and media onto the new device from an old one (as long as the operating system between devices isn’t changing.) Far too often, I’ve heard people reference this process as “cloning,” when it’s actually anything but.
Instead, the only thing that you have to do when you’re transferring data to a new device is to utilize your cellular carrier’s transfer system. Most major wireless retailers have an app or procedure that can be easily followed.
Similarly, platforms like iOS use dedicated cloud storage systems that can easily filter your apps and data onto a new device, when they’re both registered to the same cloud storage system.
How to Clone a Phone
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
― Benjamin Franklin
Here’s the thing–how you go about doing this is going to change from device to device. It’s always going to be complicated and technical. It will also always carry the risk of causing serious harm to your mobile device, so keep that in mind before you proceed at all, especially if you’re just curious about the process.
The best thing that you can do for yourself is to look up an online guide based on the make and model of phone that you’re using. This will provide you with the specificity and knowledge necessary to clone your device, leaving less room for error than when you’re following general guidelines. However, because general guidelines are about all that we can provide in this guide, that’s what we’re going to do.
- Step One: Locate the Security Menu on the phone that you want to clone. This is usually buried within the phone’s Settings, and it’s where you’re going to find the Electronic Serial Number (ESN). This is going to change from device to device, so either look for a guide specifically for your phone or check in with your cellular carrier for more direct instructions.
- Step Two: Carefully document both the ESN and the mobile phone number of the device you’re going to clone. This may seem like an obvious step, but you want to be very specific when entering it into the second device.
- Step Three: Perform the same procedure on the device that will be receiving the cloned information. Remember that the device does not need to be identical in order to receive the ESN and mobile number from the other phone. This information isn’t dependent on hardware. Also as before, it may take some technical wrangling to find the area in the settings menu where you can perform these changes.
- Step Four: Here’s the part where many people give up. You need to find the specific input code that allows you to change the mobile number on your phone. This is going to change from carrier to carrier as well as device to device, so it may require some online investigation as well as an inquiry made to your cellular provider.
- Step Five: Once you have all of the necessary information, input the ESN on the second device and use the necessary code to change the mobile number to that of the phone you want to clone. Once you’ve finished, power off both devices, then turn them back on again.
- Step Six: Try giving your number a test call! It’s very possible (likely, even) that both phones will ring when this happens. If everything works, congratulations! You’ve successfully cloned a phone.
Do recall that any tampering of a phone that does not belong to you may constitute illegal activity, especially if you go so far as to clone it. Avoid any potential problems and only perform this process on devices that you own.
Though you’re guaranteed to run into a few hoops and hurdles when going through this process, they’re certainly going to be very subjective to the types of hardware that you’re using. If you have any questions about how to clone a phone, let us know in the comments below!