6 Proven Ways to Know if Your Airpods Are Fake

Original AirPods vs fake AirPods
Original AirPods vs fake AirPods
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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.

Original AirPods vs fake AirPods
Original AirPods vs. 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.

The serial number can also be used to identify stolen or lost AirPods. Every AirPods have a one-of-a-kind serial number so you can verify whether a unit is yours or not. For example, if you suspect that another person is using your lost AirPods, check the serial number.

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:

Service coverage of Authentic AirPods
Service coverage of Authentic AirPods
Checking the serial numbers to identify fakes used to be a foolproof method. Unfortunately, that’s not the case nowadays. Manufacturers of fake AirPods have been taking serial numbers from real AirPods to use in batches of fakes

We also noticed that counterfeit AirPods have different serial numbers on the box and the earbuds themselves.

Different Serial Number in fake AirPods
Different Serial Number in fake AirPods

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.

Some high-quality counterfeit AirPods are sold at a higher price — closer to the original’s price range. Some sellers raise the prices of their counterfeit AirPods to make it seem like they’re the real deal.

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:

Different counterfeit AirPods come from different manufacturers. This means that some manufacturers could have gotten parts of packaging right that other manufacturers haven’t.

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.

The difference between the packaging labels of fake AirPods and original ones
The difference between the packaging labels of fake AirPods and original ones
You’ll also notice that the labels for original boxes are separated whereas fake ones simply have one whole strip of paper attached.

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.

Original AirPods containing more documents than fake AirPods
Original AirPods containing more documents than fake AirPods

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.

Logo checking is a technique that is famously used in authenticating shoes. Experts can discern whether a pair of shoes is authentic just by checking the angle of a Nike or Jordan logo.

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.

Font and color difference of fake and original AirPods
Font and color difference of fake and original AirPods
Apple currently uses a font called San Francisco. If you don’t have another pair of AirPods to compare, you can try downloading this online and printing some texts with it to check for consistency.

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.

Snug Fit

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.

Demonstration of suction on authentic Apple box (right) vs fake (left)
Demonstration of how fake AirPods fall faster than authentic pairs
According to Adam Lashinsky’s book, Inside Apple, one packaging designer in Apple’s team had the sole task of designing how the boxes were opened. The result of this is the slow and dramatic experience you get when opening the package.

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.

Different manufacturers make counterfeit AirPods differently. Some manufacturers can get some areas of the AirPods right so it’s important to check out your earbuds from all angles and spot the mishaps.

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.

Sound diffuser of original AirPods vs fake ones
Sound diffuser of original AirPods vs. fake ones

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.

Difference between the bottom of original and fake AirPods
Difference between the bottom of original and fake AirPods

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.

Speaker grill differences of fake vs original AirPods
Speaker grill differences of fake vs. original AirPods

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.

    Button and text differences between original and fake AirPods
    Button and text differences between original and fake AirPods

  • 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.

    Lightning port of fake vs original AirPods
    Lightning port of fake vs original AirPods

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.

If you use your AirPods with an Android device, you need to find other ways to test these exclusive features. Perhaps you can borrow an Apple device from a friend or head on to the nearest Apple Store to pair it up with the devices there.

Easy pairing

AirPods battery and pairing prompt on iPhone
AirPods battery and pairing prompt on iPhone

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.

If the AirPods are suddenly not connecting, make sure you’ve gone through our troubleshooting guide here first before calling the earbuds a counterfeit.

Try the ‘Find My’ app

Features of the Find My app for original AirPods
Features of the Find My app for original AirPods

Find My is a platform created by Apple that allows users to track the location of their devices. This platform can be accessed through its mobile app or through its iCloud website.

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.

Performing the magnet test of AirPods (From: Youtube/Life Entertainments)
Performing the magnet test of AirPods (From: Youtube/Life Entertainments)


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!


  1. I purchased AirPods 3 as original, with guarantees but when used them their bass was not like Apple soft bass but hart with hiss sound, All functions were working. Even Apple showed their warranty date. I checked find applications of Apple they rang sound but couldn’t give directions. I returned them to seller, with discount price loss of 5000 pkr. Very sad about hacking of Apple chip. I am old user of Apple but now first time its security has hacked on long scale. Apple has not given official response, so I amp sad about my Costly IPad is that fake or real

  2. My AirPods case has an android charging USB, the AirPods have no grill, on the top portion of it, and they aren’t repelling nor connecting with magnet.

  3. I have real air pods but my freind has knockoffs because his case is red and the AirPods them self are red and the case is super light so he is a phonie

  4. could fakes also have ANC and functioning force sensor on stems?
    I recently bought a pair that had all those features,valid serial number too but they they kept unpairing showing “not your Airpods Pro” message.and imo the sound quality was worse than Airpods 2 and had poor ANC, the problem is I never tried the real ones so had no idea what should I expect from sound quality and ANC of Airpods Pro.
    so I returned them suspecting they were fakes.

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