We bought counterfeit AirPods to determine what differentiates them from the authentic pair. Here’s the ultimate guide on how to tell if your AirPods or AirPods Pro are fake.
You bought a pair of legit-looking AirPods online, but you got a sneaky feeling that the AirPods might be fake.
Fake AirPods contain parts that are not just cheap but could also pose a danger to the user.
As Tyler Morgan, a former Apple specialist, says:
Unfortunately, fake AirPods are getting better every year, with some passing the serial number check and even having AirPod-exclusive features.
That’s why we got ourselves some fake AirPods to list all the possible ways you can differentiate them from the real ones. Read on as we explore the six best ways to determine if your AirPods are real or fake.
1. Check the Serial Number
The easiest way to check if your AirPods are fake is to run their serial number with Apple itself. Luckily, you don’t even have to open the box to find the serial number. This is especially helpful if there’s a policy that won’t allow returns if the box is opened.
You can find the serial number on the barcode at the back, in the sticker under the UPC.
Once you have your AirPods’ or AirPods Pro’s serial number, check if it is real or fake by heading to the Apple Coverage Check page. If your AirPods are original, you’ll see this:
2. Check the Packaging
Apple’s attention to detail, especially in packaging, makes it challenging for counterfeiters to replicate their quality, often more so than the earbuds themselves. Here’s how to spot fake AirPods and AirPods Pro via the packaging:
- Check for misspellings and wrong information: A company like Apple would not have typographical errors on the box itself or even in the manuals. So, if you spot any errors on your AirPods’ packaging, you’re probably holding a counterfeit one.
- Check the font: Former Apple Specialist, Tyler Morgan, also says checking the back font of your AirPods’ box is also an easy way to authenticate fake AirPods. Most times, fakes have bigger fonts or just an entirely different font.
You’ll also notice that the labels for the original boxes are separated, whereas fake ones simply have one whole strip of paper attached.
- Check the logo: The logo is also one of the first things 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.
- Test for Snug fit: Apple boxes are composed of two parts: an inner box that houses the contents and an outer box with the image of the product. To open the box, you need to raise the outer box and wait for the inner packaging to release itself naturally. This is something that most counterfeit products cannot fabricate.
- Check the box contents: Counterfeit AirPods often only have the manual. However, authentic AirPods would have two more documents — the safety sheet and the warranty card.
3. Connect Your AirPods to Your iOS Device
The most foolproof way of checking if your AirPods are real or fake is by connecting them to your iOS device. This is due to the recent iOS 16 update that includes an authentication message when connecting fake AirPods.
Simply connect your AirPods by opening the lid and placing them close to your iOS device (with Bluetooth turned on) to test this prompt.
4. Do Physical Checks on The AirPods
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 check to authenticate them.
- 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. It has to be aligned with the black circle beside it.
For fake AirPods, the grills are likely not to be that polished, usually having random flat surfaces mixed up with the grills.
Check the bottom of the 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 will have an oval shape that takes up around half of the whole space. Fake AirPods could have larger and more circular ovals. Also, the grills on the fake AirPods might not be as refined as the authentic ones.
Check the speaker grills and IR sensors
The transparency of the speaker grills is also a critical difference between authentic and fake AirPods. You’ll see the silhouette of two circular speakers with authentic ones, which might not be visible if you have fakes.
5. Check the Charging Case
For the charging case, focus on the multifunction button and the charging port for any build defects unlikely in original Apple products:
- Charging port: The charging port is lined with metal. Authentic AirPods are lined thinly, while the fake ones are slightly thicker ones.
- Status light: Other obvious signs of fake AirPods: blue light on the charging case or any light in the earbuds. AirPods status light can’t produce blue light, and the earbuds don’t have LED inside them.
6. Try Exclusive Features You Won’t Find on Fake AirPods
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.
Here’s how to check if your AirPods are original or fake via the software:
See if you can find them on the ‘Find My’ app
You can’t avoid feeling awful about losing a pair of AirPods, authentic or not. The difference is that you can find your authentic AirPods again using the Find My app, while your counterfeit AirPods will likely be lost forever.
Original AirPods will automatically be added to your Find My account the moment you pair them with an iOS device. Original AirPods can also utilize all functions of the Find My platform, including Play Sound and Directions.
To check this, simply go to the Find My app and see if your AirPods appear on the list in the Devices tab.
Check the details on the ‘i’ icon
The More Info, or ‘i’, button next to your devices can tell you whether they are legitimate Apple products or third-party Bluetooth devices.
To access the More Info screen on your iOS device:
- Go to Settings.
- Tap Bluetooth.
- Tap the blue circle with an ‘i’ in it next to your AirPods or AirPods Pro.
Real AirPods’ More Info button will have the model number, serial number, firmware version, and ‘More’ displayed on the screen.
However, fake AirPods’ More Info screen will appear like other Bluetooth products: displaying the name, limited device info, and ‘Forget this Device.’
What to Do if You Have Fake AirPods
If you find out you’ve bought counterfeit AirPods, here’s a simpler approach to handle the situation:
- Try to Get a Refund: Contact the seller and ask for your money back. They might not always agree, especially if they were aware of the fakes, but it’s worth a try.
- Report to Apple: Use Apple’s reporting tool to inform them about the counterfeit AirPods. Provide as much detail as you can to help them track down the counterfeiters.
- Credit Card Chargeback: If you used a credit card, contact your credit card company if the seller won’t issue a refund. Most major companies often have protections for fraudulent purchases and might help you with a chargeback.
- Stay Safe: Don’t confront anyone in person about the counterfeit product. It’s better to handle this through official channels.
- Buy from Trusted Sources in the Future: To avoid this situation, always buy AirPods directly from Apple or a reputable vendor.
– Tyler Morgan, former Apple Specialist