Android: How to programmatically access the device serial number shown in the AVD manager (API Version 8)

This is the hardware serial number. To access it on

  • Android Q (>= SDK 29)
    android.Manifest.permission.READ_PRIVILEGED_PHONE_STATE is required. Only system apps can require this permission. If the calling package is the device or profile owner then the READ_PHONE_STATE permission suffices.

  • Android 8 and later (>= SDK 26) use android.os.Build.getSerial() which requires the dangerous permission READ_PHONE_STATE. Using android.os.Build.SERIAL returns android.os.Build.UNKNOWN.

  • Android 7.1 and earlier (<= SDK 25) and earlier android.os.Build.SERIAL does return a valid serial.

It’s unique for any device. If you are looking for possibilities on how to get/use a unique device id you should read here.

For a solution involving reflection without requiring a permission see this answer.

Up to Android 7.1 (SDK 25)

Until Android 7.1 you will get it with:

Build.SERIAL

From Android 8 (SDK 26)

On Android 8 (SDK 26) and above, this field will return UNKNOWN and must be accessed with:

Build.getSerial()

which requires the dangerous permission
android.permission.READ_PHONE_STATE.

From Android Q (SDK 29)

Since Android Q using Build.getSerial() gets a bit more complicated by requiring:

android.Manifest.permission.READ_PRIVILEGED_PHONE_STATE (which can only be acquired by system apps), or for the calling package to be the device or profile owner and have the READ_PHONE_STATE permission. This means most apps won’t be able to uses this feature. See the Android Q announcement from Google.

See Android SDK reference


Best Practice for Unique Device Identifier

If you just require a unique identifier, it’s best to avoid using hardware identifiers as Google continuously tries to make it harder to access them for privacy reasons. You could just generate a UUID.randomUUID().toString(); and save it the first time it needs to be accessed in e.g. shared preferences. Alternatively you could use ANDROID_ID which is a 8 byte long hex string unique to the device, user and (only Android 8+) app installation. For more info on that topic, see Best practices for unique identifiers.

Build.SERIAL can be empty or sometimes return a different value (proof 1, proof 2) than what you can see in your device’s settings.

If you want a more complete and robust solution, I’ve compiled every possible solution I could found in a single gist. Here’s a simplified version of it :

public static String getSerialNumber() {
    String serialNumber;

    try {
        Class<?> c = Class.forName("android.os.SystemProperties");
        Method get = c.getMethod("get", String.class);

        serialNumber = (String) get.invoke(c, "gsm.sn1");
        if (serialNumber.equals(""))
            serialNumber = (String) get.invoke(c, "ril.serialnumber");
        if (serialNumber.equals(""))
            serialNumber = (String) get.invoke(c, "ro.serialno");
        if (serialNumber.equals(""))
            serialNumber = (String) get.invoke(c, "sys.serialnumber");
        if (serialNumber.equals(""))
            serialNumber = Build.SERIAL;

        // If none of the methods above worked
        if (serialNumber.equals(""))
            serialNumber = null;
    } catch (Exception e) {
        e.printStackTrace();
        serialNumber = null;
    }

    return serialNumber;
}

I try to update the gist regularly whenever I can test on a new device or Android version. Contributions are welcome too.