We bought counterfeit AirPods to determine what differentiates them from the authentic pair. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to tell if AirPods are fake.
Stylish, convenient, and durable — these are reasons why the demand for AirPods has been so high. Case in point, only four years after the first generation AirPods were released, Apple sold its 110 millionth pair.
Unfortunately, counterfeit AirPods and knock-offs have been profiting from this demand as well. And, distinguishing the copycats from real ones has become noticeably harder.
Fake AirPod Manufacturers have become so clever — even nailing the software aspect of the AirPods. In fact, even actual AirPods owners have been scratching their heads when identifying the real ones from the fakes.
The burden of checking for authenticity falls on the buyer. And if that someone is you, then you’re lucky because we’ll show you six ways to spot fake AirPods.
How to Tell if AirPods are Fake via the Serial Number
The serial number is the fingerprint of a product. It is a combination of numbers and letters assigned only to a specific unit produced.
This allows Apple to track specific units during inventory. Aside from that, Apple also uses serial numbers to identify defective batches. For users, the serial number is proof that the product actually came from Apple and not any other manufacturer.
In the case of AirPods, the serial numbers are found in several places. You’ll find it on the Settings, inside the charging case lid, and even on the box.
To check whether the serial number is legit or not, simply head on to the Apple Coverage Check page. If your AirPods are original, you’ll see this:
We also noticed that counterfeit AirPods have different serial numbers on the box and the earbuds themselves.
Price Difference of Real vs. Fake AirPods
The price difference between fake and real AirPods is the most significant source of temptation for counterfeit buyers. After all, why spend more than a hundred bucks on authentic AirPods if you can buy a pair that looks like them for a third of the price?
Currently, the AirPods with a wireless charging case cost $169 while the non-wireless charging variant is priced at $145. Even during Black Friday sales, the AirPods can still cost around $100. In contrast, counterfeit AirPods only cost around $10-$40, depending on their quality.
The best way to ensure that you’re buying originals is to buy from Apple Stores of Apple Authorized Resellers. You can check Apple’s locate page to find the nearest legit sellers near you. If you’re buying through online platforms such as Amazon, make sure that you’re buying from their official Apple Store.
How Spot Fake AirPods via the Packaging
Minimalist, intelligent, and clean — these are the perfect words to describe the boxes that come with Apple products. Anyone who knows a thing or two about tech brands also knows how much Apple pays attention to the details, even when it comes to the packaging.
Because of this, counterfeit manufacturers seem to have a harder time producing high-quality packaging than the earbuds themselves.
Here’s how you can use the packaging to authenticate your AirPods:
- Check for misspellings and wrong information
- Box Contents and Logo
- Font and color consistency
- Snug Fit
Check for misspellings and wrong information
A company like Apple would not have typographical errors on the box itself and even on the manuals. These materials go through multiple rounds of proofreaders and copywriters before printing. If you spot any errors on your AirPods’ packaging, then you’re probably holding a counterfeit one.
Box Contents and Logo
You can also authenticate your AirPods by checking what’s inside the box. Oftentimes, counterfeit AirPods would only have the manual. However, authentic AirPods would have two more documents outside of the manual — the safety sheet and the warranty card.
Apart from that, the logo is also one of the first things that people check out in the AirPods’ box. The original one has a sharper and more defined edge along the bite area. The counterfeit one, however, might have rounded edges.
Font and color consistency
Font differences can be hard to spot especially if you don’t have the real thing as a reference. Common counterfeit AirPods have a thinner and taller font with lesser space in between the letters.
The colors of the text can also be used to determine authenticity. Although subtly, you would notice that the fake ones seem to use a darker shade of grey for the texts.
Who knew that even the suction you feel when you open the box of an Apple product was intentionally put there?
Apple boxes are composed of two parts — an inner box that houses the box contents and an outer box that has the image of the product. To open the box, you need to raise the outer box and wait for the inner box to naturally release itself. This is something that most counterfeit products cannot fabricate.
To check this, get yourself another box from an authentic Apple product. Familiarize yourself with the drag and suction from that box and compare it to your AirPods’ box. If the sensation isn’t the same, then you probably have counterfeit AirPods.
Physical Checks To Help Identify Real vs. Fake AirPods
Now, onto the AirPods themselves.
The AirPods may simply look like a wireless version of the classic EarPods, but they are so much more than that. Apple really showed their detail-oriented side with the AirPods so counterfeit manufacturers tend to miss the little things.
Unlike the packaging, though, the physical differences between real and fake AirPods are a lot more subtle. To an untrained eye, high-quality counterfeits can easily pass as originals so below are the key areas you can use to authenticate.
- Check the diffuser
- Check the bottom of AirPods
- Check the speaker grills and IR sensors
- Check the charging case
Check the diffuser
The sound diffuser is the elongated rounded line you see on your AirPods beside the circular IR sensor. The sound diffuser has to be aligned with the black circle beside it. Also, the sound diffuser of fake AirPods would have visible grills, which isn’t the case for authentic ones.
The grilles are also not that polished, usually having random flat surfaces mixed up with the grills.
Check the bottom of AirPods
The bottom part of the AirPods is where the charging contacts are. This part of the AirPods magnetically connects to their charging case.
For authentic AirPods, this part should have an oval shape that takes up around half of the whole space. Fake AirPods would have larger and more circular ovals. Also, the grills on the fake AirPods are not as refined compared to the authentic ones.
Check the speaker grills and IR sensors
The transparency of the speaker grills is also a key difference between authentic and fake AirPods. You’ll see the silhouette of two circular speakers with authentic ones, which would not be visible if you have fakes.
The opposite goes for the IR sensor. The IR sensors of authentic AirPods are almost pitch black and you shouldn’t be able to see anything through it. On the other hand, fake AirPods can have a hollow see-through hole or even just a painted circle on that part.
Check the charging case
Lastly, the charging case is also home to some key areas where you can determine whether the AirPods are original or not. For this, you’re basically looking for any built defects that Apple probably won’t commit.
The key areas are the following: multifunction button, charging port, and the text below the hinge.
- Multifunction Button and Text – Check whether the button is secured and a level with the case. Oftentimes, fake AirPods would have buttons that are either loose or raised. The text above the button should say “Designed by Apple in California” and “Assembled in China”. For this, watch out for spacing errors, wrong font use, and the use of a darker shade for the text.
- Charging Port – The charging port is lined with metal. Authentic AirPods are lined thinly while the fake ones would have slightly thicker ones. Also, anything that doesn’t have a lightning port is a clear fake.
Exclusive Features You Can’t Find on Fake AirPods
Counterfeit manufacturers can get as detailed as they want and copy the physical properties of the AirPods, but they could never fake what’s inside.
The AirPods are packed with game-changing features that only Apple’s software could do. These exclusive Apple-only features can be a great way to tell whether your AirPods are fake or not.
Easy pairing allows users to instantly connect their AirPods to their Apple devices. All you have to do is open up the charging case with the AirPods inside and hold it near the device you want to pair it with.
If you’re pairing for the first time, you would need to press the Connect button on your device. If you’ve paired the AirPods with the same device before, you shouldn’t have to do anything else.
Try the ‘Find My’ app
You can’t avoid gloating over losing a pair of AirPods — authentic or not. The difference is that you actually have the chance to find your AirPods again through Find My while your counterfeit AirPods are probably lost forever.
Original AirPods will automatically be added to your Find My account the moment you pair your devices together. Original AirPods can also utilize all functions of the Find My platform including Play Sound and Directions.
Head to the Find My app on your device and click the Devices tab to see whether all the features are working properly. If they’re not, then you might have counterfeit AirPods with you.
For more information on how to use Find My to look for your AirPods, check this guide.
Bonus: Try the Magnet Trick
There’s one more nifty trick to check whether your AirPods are fake or not. Though very subtle, doing this test can easily confirm whether you have authentic AirPods or not.
Original AirPods contain magnetized parts. If you bring the two earbuds together, they should repel each other if they are authentic. Fake AirPods wouldn’t attract or repel each other when brought closer to each other.
Authenticating a pair of AirPods is as tricky as ever. With the things we discussed above, though, you should be properly armed to take on the challenge. Now, you won’t be easily fooled by those who want to take advantage of you. The only thing left for you to do is to go get those AirPods now!
What inspections worked for you? Do you have any other tricks under your sleeves? Tell us about it through the comments below!