Patched Phones: What They Are and Should You Buy Them?

Patched Phones: What They Are and Should You Buy Them?

If you are a mobile phone user, you have paid for your phone twice. One, when you bought it and second, when you registered it with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).  There is no escaping the PTA registration if you want to use your phone for more than 60 days in Pakistan. PTA registration fee or taxes aren’t cheap and they keep rising.

For example, look at these images and you’ll get a fairly good idea how high PTA taxes are. 

Now imagine this. A used phone importer imports a phone whose US Dollar value is around Rs.50,000. Let’s assume Its PTA fee is Rs.12,000. Add his profit and other related costs in it and the market price of the phone becomes Rs.70,000. But it’s a used phone and the customer is only willing to pay Rs.50,000 to Rs.60,000. So, what does the importer do to bring down its cost – he tampers with the phone’s IMEI to bring down its PTA fee and overall cost.

What is a Patched Phone? 

A patched phone is a phone whose original IMEI is changed with the IMEI of another cheaper phone’s IMEI. To make things simple, it is like registering a Nokia 3310 with PTA while using Samsung Galaxy S23 in reality. You can imagine how big of a difference in the PTA tax would be between Nokia 3310 and Samsung S23.

There are many terms used for tempered phones in the market. For example, “PTA Patched Phone”, “VIP Approved” and many other such terms. So, what is the validity or reality of these terms?

There isn’t any. Tampering a phone’s IMEI number to pay less tax to the PTA is not legal. 

What is IMEI and How to Find It?

IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) is a phone’s CNIC number. Every phone has it and it’s unique for each phone. If you are trying to find your or any phone’s IMEI, simply:

  1. Go to the phone’s dialpad 
  2. Type *#06#
  3. A dark screen will appear with your phone’s IMEI

It is this number that the temperer will change with the help of a software to deceive PTA into believing that it’s another, cheaper phone. 

How to Check if the Phone is Patched?

If you are about to buy a phone and want to make sure it isn’t patched, click on this link

  1. Scroll down and you’ll see a search bar where it says “Enter 15 digit IMEI e.g. 123456789012345”
  2. Enter the phone’s IMEI here
  3. Click on “✔CHECK”
  4. You’ll see information about the phone’s model

If it’s the same phone, you’ll know that it is not patched. 

Why You Should Not Buy a Patched Phone

A patched phone offers cheap thrill for a time being but after a while it will start to cost you way more than you bargained for. In addition to not being legal, patched phones have the following disadvantages:

  1. Lack of Security → Your personal data like photos, phone numbers, files, passwords, etc. aren’t safe in a tampered phone. In addition, banking transactions may also not be secure. If you intend on using apps like JazzCash and Easypaisa, etc., do not use a patched phone. 
  1. Software Updates → Such phones usually don’t get software updates. So, they slow down over a period of time.
  1. Resale Value → Since their IMEI is tampered, they may not fetch the same price as compared to a genuinely PTA approved phone.
  1. Phone Signals → Some people have reported that their patched phones receive weaker signals.
  1. Permanently Delete Data → Sometimes it’s not possible to permanently delete data from your patched phone. This is a cause of concern at the time of sale of the phone. 

Patched Phones in Pakistan

Since the idea behind tampering with a phone’s IMEI is to make it affordable for many, as a result, mostly costly, premium and flagship phones in used condition are imported. While they could be of any make and model, in Pakistan, mostly Samsung and OnePlus phones are most prone to IMEI tampering. 
We hope you found this writeup helpful. Have you ever used a patched phone, or are you currently using one? Let us know your experience.

Suggested Further Reading:

How to register a phone with PTA?

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