Apple AirPods are arguably the most popular and recognizable earphones in the world. Four years after the first generation, Apple had sold 110 million units. Unfortunately, this also means that they are some of the most copied and counterfeited wireless earbuds on the market.
So, maybe you’re curious about the differences between real and fake AirPods. Perhaps you are paranoid about a pair that you’ve bought or been given.
That’s why I decided to invest in as many fake AirPods as I could last week. In this guide, I’m going to explain how to know if your AirPods are fake or not. Many counterfeiters exist, and some are better than others. That means that it has become quite a bit harder to distinguish between the real thing and a fake.
They are getting better at it…
Some counterfeiters are not only able to get the physical aspects but even the software of the AirPods being copied right. This has to lead to some models even fooling those who own a set of real AirPods.
Therefore, it’s become much more important for buyers to be well informed on how to tell fake AirPods from real ones. This will help prevent you from ending up with something that is not the real deal.
I’ll be taking a look at six of the best ways to determine if a pair of AirPods is real or fake. So, without any more dilly dally, let’s dive right in with…
- Checking the Serial Number
- Significant Price Difference
- Spotting a Fake Through the Packaging
- How to Check the Packaging of your AirPods
- Checking for Misspellings and Incorrect Information
- Box Contents and Logo
- Font and Color Consistency
- Check for a Snug Fit
- Physical Checks
- AirPods Features You Can’t Fake
- The Magnet Trick
- Need More Information About AirPods?
- How to Know if Your Airpods Are Fake – Conclusion
Checking the Serial Number
Serial numbers consist of unique combinations of letters and numbers that are assigned to a specific product. This, as I just said, makes each one unique.
Serial numbers are mainly for Apple’s inventory purposes. They help Apple to better track defective batches. However, they can also be useful to the customer. That’s because they reassure you that your AirPods came from Apple and nowhere else.
Serial numbers can also be useful in cases of theft. It is possible to check the serial number of a pair of AirPods you suspect were stolen. Using the unique serial number, you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the AirPods belong to you.
But that’s not all…
Apple likes some redundancy on their products. So, the serial number of a specific product can be found in more than one place – first, through the settings, secondly, on the packaging, and finally, on the inside of the charging case lid.
You can use Apple’s Coverage Check website to check the serial number of your AirPods. Simply go to the website and input the serial number. The website should return information on your product confirming that it is a real Apple product.
One of the best ways to identify fake AirPods is to check whether the serial number on the box and the lid match. These will often be different numbers when the unit is fake.
But, it’s not always the case…
Serial numbers used to be viewed as the fool-proof method of identifying real AirPods. But, some counterfeiters have become wise to even this redundant system. Many batches of fake AirPods have been found to contain serial numbers from real products.
This means that the counterfeiters are copying the serial numbers to fool users who wish to use the coverage check website for authentication. While serial numbers can help with how to know if your AirPods are fake, they, unfortunately, can’t be used alone.
Significant Price Difference
The seemingly “competitive” price of fake AirPods is probably what lures most buyers to a purchase they will later regret. Not blaming them; it makes sense, after all. If you can get the same product at a better price somewhere else, then why wouldn’t you go for it?
At the moment, a pair of proper AirPods can go for around $170, while non-wireless charging variants are about $150. I once waited for a Black Friday sale, and still, they only came down to about $100. On the other hand, fake AirPods can go as low as $40, $20, or even just $10 a pair.
The worst kind of counterfeit is the expensive kind. Many counterfeiters will sell their product at a price that is very close to that of the original. Or, they will even match the price to make their product come across as authentic.
So, what should you do?
The easiest way to ensure that you don’t buy a fake is to make sure that you buy from Apple and no one else. There are also authorized resellers of Apple products from whom it is safe to buy AirPods.
Using Apple’s website, you can find the nearest authorized reseller in your location. If you are buying through an online platform like Amazon, be sure to check that the third-party merchant is an authorized Apple reseller.
Spotting a Fake Through the Packaging
The attention to detail that Apple affords its products is part of the reason they’ve become so successful. Even the smallest details are given undivided attention to maximize customer satisfaction. Anyone whose ever owned an Apple product will know that the packaging is superb.
Despite all the effort a counterfeiter might go through to make the fake product, the hardest part is the packaging. Yes, it’s true; it is harder to fake the box that the actual earphones.
How to Check the Packaging of your AirPods
It is important to note that fakes are being made worldwide by many manufacturers; therefore, some are likely to get more things right than others. But don’t think you cant be fooled at a distance and up close, so pay close attention.
- Check for misspellings and incorrect information.
- Double-check the logo against a picture online, and verify the contents.
- Verify the font and the color.
- Check that the contents fit very snugly in the box as they are designed to.
Checking for Misspellings and Incorrect Information
A company like Apple sells its products worldwide. Therefore, it needs to have important info on packaging and in manuals translated to many languages.
They employ professionals to proofread all this material multiple times to ensure a typographically correct product gets printed. If you can spot language or grammar errors on the packaging or in a manual, chances are you are holding a fake.
Box Contents and Logo
One part of the package that is so hard to counterfeit that most manufacturers don’t even bother trying is the warranty information and health and safety information. Their reasoning must be that because people never read those things, they will be ignored altogether.
The problem is they need to be there to get ignored in the first place. When something you never take note of suddenly disappears, it leaves a giant hole, right?
Additionally, counterfeit AirPods will most likely have a manual. But, there won’t be a safety card or warranty information inside the cardboard sleeve that you get in the packaging.
The next thing to check is the logo…
This is also one of the things that are so hard to duplicate the chances are even the best fakes won’t be able to get it just right. The AirPods logo should have sharply-defined edges and be rich in color. Fake AirPods logos will be more rounded around the bite area.
Logo checking has been used as a professional way to spot fake AirPods for years. Some experts can determine whether a shoe is fake or not simply by looking at the angle of the Nike or Puma Logo. The same goes for tech and electronic products too.
Font and Color Consistency
Using the font to check for a fake product can get a bit more tricky. If you don’t have an authentic sample to compare to, spotting a fake pair of AirPods by looking at the font is not easy.
The best thing to check would be for a font that is taller and makes use of thinner lines to form the letters. Less spacing between the letters is also a common change made on counterfeit AirPods logos.
Something handy to note…
The name of the font that Apple uses in its logo is “San Francisco.” If you are looking to make some comparisons, you can download this font and then print some examples. Then, take those with you when you inspect the suspected counterfeit AirPods.
Checking the color consistency of the font is another way you can spot a fake logo. However, this, too, is tricky without a real sample to compare with.
The most noticeable thing is that real AirPods logos are printed not using black but a shade of grey. Fakes are usually printed using dark ink. Although some fakes attempt using lighter ink, it still doesn’t look right.
Check for a Snug Fit
This one might seem a bit funny. But, even that suction you feel when you lift the inner box out of the outer box is by design.
The box consists of two parts. The inner box houses the earphones and the documentation, and the outer box simply has a picture of the AirPods on it. To get the AirPods out of the packaging, you have to lift the outer box and slowly let the inner box drop out.
A quick test…
If you can, get an authentic pair and a fake pair next to each other and do a “drop test.” It is quite likely that due to the difference in materials used, the counterfeit pair will drop must faster than the real Apple Airpods.
If you can’t do a comparison test, then you can simply familiarize yourself with the time and feel of the suction on a real pair. Then, compare what you know with the experience of the suspected counterfeit pair.
Fun fact about the Apple packaging. There was one person who worked at Apple whose sole task was designing how the packaging would open. The result of that person’s effort is the unboxing experience we, as Apple users, have come to know and love.
The smaller details on the AirPods are quite impressive when you start digging in. Apple has gotten wise to its reputation and is aware of the thousands of fakes out there. Therefore, the company went to great lengths to pay attention to detail when it came to the AirPods.
As mentioned before, most of the time, the easiest way to identify fake AirPods is through the packaging. However, there are ways of checking the earphones themselves. When learning how to know if your AirPods are fake, these are very helpful.
A keen eye is required…
That said, you need to be aware that the differences to look for are going to be much more subtle. So, pay extra close attention cause even some trained eyes have been fooled by well-made fakes.
Just like packaging, different counterfeiters will offer differing levels of quality and will get different things right and wrong. It is important to check all the angles before deciding.
The diffuser is the small oval-shaped hole on the inside surface of the earphone. It is located next to the IR sensor, which is a small circle. The sensor and diffuser should be aligned with one another on a pair of authentic AirPods.
If you can see a shiny grill covering the diffuser opening, it is most likely a fake. Real AirPods don’t have polished grills.
The Bottom of the AirPods
The underside or bottom of the stem on AirPods is where the charging connectors are located. It is also where the magnets that help the AirPods shift into their cradles with a snug fit are located.
Authentic AirPods have a well-polished oval connector. It should take up around half the space of the underside. Fake AirPods often have larger connectors that look unpolished and are often larger, even sticking over the edges.
Furthermore, the grills covering the inside of the connector should be visible and refined. On fake earphones, they might be absent. However, in some cases, they will be there but will look like they don’t fit quite right.
Check the Grill and IR Sensors
The super-fine mesh grills that cover the speakers on authentic AirPods are one of the most prominent features. This is one of the best physical checks you can do to identify a fake AirPod.
When you look at the grill, you should see the two circular silhouettes of the speakers through the transparent grills. On fake AirPods, you aren’t able to see through the grill at all.
The IR sensors are another giveaway…
IR sensors on authentic AirPods are black as night, and you won’t see a thing when you look at them. On fake AirPods, IR sensors are often partly transparent, almost like tinted plastic. In some cases, the counterfeiter simply painted black dots where the sensors should be.
The Charging Case
After the speaker grills and IR sensors, this is probably the next best physical factor that will give away a fake. When it comes to the case, the main things you are looking for are cheap-looking plastic and build defects. Most notably, you’ll want to look at two key areas.
The most prominent giveaway to look for on a fake AirPods case is the multifunction button. The button on an authentic AirPods charging case is level with the case.
On fake charging cases, the buttons may well be loose and prone to rattling. Also, they are often raised and produce a very loud click when pressed. This is not the case with the real deal.
The text above the multifunction button…
It’s a bit harder to gauge as some manufacturers can get the font pretty spot one. What you’ll have to look for is glossiness on the paint, and that fakes have a darker shading to the lettering.
Spacing errors are also common, but it’s difficult to spot with an untrained eye. The text must read: “Designed by Apple in California” and “Assembled in China.”
The Charging Port
The most obvious giveaway found on the worst counterfeit AirPods cases is the absence of a lightning port and the presence of something else, like a micro-USB. Real Apple charging cases only come with lighting ports.
The next, less obvious giveaway is the metal lining around the charging port. Authentic charging cases have a very thin, well-defined lining, while fakes will have a thicker, uneven strip.
AirPods Features You Can’t Fake
As mentioned before, counterfeit AirPods are often identified by the fake packaging rather than by the products themselves. That being said, if there is one thing that’s even harder to fake than the packaging, it’s the software features.
If you are struggling with how to know if your AirPods are fake, then testing the software features is as solid as you’re likely to get.
However, it is important to note that if you are using your AirPods with an Android device, you will not be able to perform these checks. Therefore, I recommend asking someone you know who has an Apple device to allow you to perform these tests if you need to be sure.
Apple’s easy pairing is one of their most loved features. It only works after you’ve performed the initial connection. When pairing for the first time, you need to press the multifunction button to engage the connection. After that, all you have to do is pop the lid, and you’re good to go.
Testing this feature is a good way to identify possible counterfeit AirPods. But, be aware that even real AirPods have their troubles. So, make sure you check all the troubleshooting information on Apple’s website before you call a pair of AirPods counterfeit.
Use the “Find My” App
“Find My” is another groundbreaking feature introduced by Apple to enhance customer satisfaction. “Find My” is Apple’s international tracking platform. It allows users to track the GPS location of any Apple device. The feature can be accessed via a mobile app or Apple’s iCloud website.
If you’ve lost your AirPods and you registered them with the “Find My” App, then you can track the location. In my opinion, it will be worth doing so since they are bound to be real AirPods if you can find them using “Find My.”
If you are not able to do so, however, I’m sure you are still disappointed at the loss of the earphones. But, it does lessen the blow to know that they were fakes since you can’t track them using “Find My.”
How it works…
The “Find My” App will automatically add your AirPods to the list of trackable devices the moment you pair them for the first time. Authentic AirPods can make use of the “Find My” features like play sound and directions.
If you suspect a pair of being fake, simply open the “Find My “app on your device and head over to the listed devices. If your AirPods are not listed, and you can’t utilize any of the “Find My” features, the earphones are more than likely fakes.
The Magnet Trick
This last little test is almost a mystical one. But, it’s quite reliable in that it has to do with simple laws of nature, specifically magnetism. Authentic AirPods contain magnetized parts that, like all magnetized objects, will repel other magnets when they get close enough.
Hold the two AirPods close to one another. You should feel a push or pull exerted on your fingers from the magnets repelling or attracting one another.
Need More Information About AirPods?
We can help with that. Take a look at our detailed articles on Can Reset AirPods Be Tracked, AirPods Blinking Orange? How to Fix It, Do AirPods Work Well on Android Devices, Simple Tips to Keep AirPods From Falling Out, and How to Clean Your AirPods Pro for more information.
Also, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best AirPods Alternative, the Best Apple AirPods Pro Alternatives, the Best True Wireless Earbuds, the Best iPhone Earbuds, the Best Wireless Earbuds For Small Ears, and the Most Comfortable Earbuds you can buy in 2023.
How to Know if Your Airpods Are Fake – Conclusion
Whether you are just curious or want to make sure you’re getting the real deal out of a second-hand purchase, using these methods will let you know if your AirPods are real or fake.
That being said, remember that counterfeiters are constantly trying to improve their fakes. So, keep your eyes peeled and never think that you are too good to be fooled.
Until next time, happy listening!