Apple AirPods offer you a wireless experience as they connect with your iPhone, iPad and other Apple devices. They deliver quality sound and contain a microphone that allows you to answer calls or talk to Siri through the AirPods.
They also contain sensors that sense when you have the AirPods in your ears or when you squeeze them. Since AirPods are wireless, they connect to other devices through Bluetooth. All you do is turn on Bluetooth on your device and then allow it to pair with your AirPods.
Unfortunately, fake AirPods affect the sale of genuine AirPods. Counterfeit products affect the manufacturers and buyers in various ways. For instance, in the case of Apple, clone AirPods cost the company $3.2 billion a year. On the other hand, the buyer risks buying expensive and non-refundable fake products.
Moreover, counterfeits don’t meet the set health standards that the original products employ in manufacturing. For instance, some fake AirPods exceed the recommended volume standard by 10 decibels, which damage the user’s hearing abilities.
Additionally, you will not receive Apple after sales services on counterfeits once the device becomes faulty. Therefore, you should know how to identify fake AirPods to ensure you get your money’s worth.
Types of AirPods
Apple has released the following AirPods.
- AirPods 2nd Generation
- AirPods 3rd Generation
- AirPods Pro
- AirPods Max
How to Tell If AirPods are Fake
There have been numerous counterfeits released in the market. Therefore, a buyer should know how to distinguish authentic AirPods from counterfeit ones. Read on to discover the difference between real and fake AirPods.
The price of the AirPods is one of the best giveaways for counterfeit products. The sellers want to profit and have the products leave the stores as soon as possible. Therefore, they sell their products for an affordable price.
To buy authentic AirPods, purchase them from Apples stores or their authorized sellers. Amazon is one of Apple’s authorized sellers, where you can shop for AirPods. Other authorized Apple sellers include Best Buy, Adorama, and B&H Photo.
However, if you opt to purchase from the black market, know the price of the real AirPods and compare it with the price you receive. Look through this AirPods Price Guide to find out Apple’s prices. Since some sellers may match real AirPods’ prices, use the following tactics to distinguish the real from the fake.
Check iOS or iPadOS
You can use your Apple devices to check if your AirPods are real or fake. On your iPadOS 16 or iOS 16, once you pair your AirPods, the devices will show a popup message. The pop up states whether the AirPods are authentic or counterfeits.
Use the Serial Number
A product’s serial number is its distinguishing factor. Like a human’s fingerprint, manufacturers use serial numbers to differentiate one product from another. The serial number can help you trace the item back to its manufacturer. Besides, with the serial number, you can also retrieve your lost AirPods.
Therefore, the serial number on the AirPods can help you determine the authenticity of your AirPods. Follow the steps below to locate your serial number:
- You can locate the serial number on the AirPods box. The serial number is a combination of numbers and letters.
- The AirPods’ original charging case also contains a serial number. If you flip-open the lid, you will see the serial number on the cover. Ensure this serial number matches the one on the box.
- Through iOS and iPadOS, you can view the serial number if you tap on your AirPods More Info icon.
- Your AirPods Max also has a serial number on the AirPods. When you remove the cushion on the left AirPod, near the speaker holes, next to the Apple logo, you’ll find the device’s serial number.
Once you enter the serial number on the Apple Coverage Page, you’ll see details such as your serial number and the valid purchase date. However, some counterfeit manufacturers take serial numbers from real AirPods and use them on their fake products. Therefore, use more of these techniques to determine if your AirPods are real.
Connection Speed and Battery Life
Real AirPods pair easily with Apple devices. Once you open the charging case and hold it to your device, it pairs instantly. With fake AirPods, you will experience some difficulties when you try to connect the devices.
You can also use the AirPods’ battery life to differentiate between real and fake AirPods. Real AirPods Pros have 4.5 hours of listening time when fully charged. You probably have counterfeits if your AirPods give you less time when fully charged.
Additionally, with counterfeits, you’ll notice fast battery drainage even with limited use. The battery percentage should also display on the battery widget. Fake AirPods hardly have this feature.
Apple is quite meticulous with its packaging. They fine-tune even the minutest details to ensure they maintain their top-tier quality. Counterfeit manufacturers need more time and resources to sustain such levels of quality. Therefore, a few things in packaging help differentiate the real from the fake.
The outside of the box may contain spelling mistakes. You may notice a letter facing the wrong direction or a misplaced uppercase letter. Also, the placement of the labels is different. Real AirPods have tags with information about the product. Fake ones have one mostly blank sticker.
The Apple logo on the fake and real AirPods is different. The one on the fake one is curvy around the bite areas. The real one has sharper and well-defined edges.
The contents of the box should also differ. Real AirPods have a warranty card, a user’s guide, and a safety sheet. Fake ones only have the user’s guide. Additionally, the packaging fits snugly, but the packaging is loose for counterfeits.
The font between genuine and counterfeit products differs. While Apple uses a San Francisco font with gray color, clone AirPods use reflective silver or washed-out gray color. The font is usually thinner, taller, and appears squeezed.
There are many ways to check if you have fake AirPods or real AirPods. This short video demonstrates another way that fake AirPods and real AirPods are different but based on the regulatory text:
2. The Charging Case
For authentic AirPods, the multifunction button on the case should be secure and level with the case. On clone AirPods, the button is raised or fits loosely. The text above the button states, “Designed by Apple in California” and “Assembled in China.” Some counterfeits will also have this text. Therefore, check font color, spelling, and spacing.
The charging port on the case is also another point to check. Both genuine and cloned AirPods have a metal lining. However, fake ones have a thicker metal lining than real ones.
Also, not that genuine 2nd Generation AirPods allow Qi wireless charging. Clones usually don’t have Qi wireless charging features.
The AirPods also have distinguishing features that differentiate the real from the fake ones. The parts are pretty subtle, making it hard to notice the difference. However, a closer inspection will reveal whether your AirPods are counterfeits or genuine.
The bottoms of the AirPods have to charge contacts that magnetically attach to the charging case. Real AirPods have thick ovals with refined grills. Fake ones have thinner and circular shapes with less sophisticated grills.
Inspect the sound diffuser. The sound diffuser is next to the IR sensor and perfectly aligns with the black circle next to it. The grills on the sound diffuser are more refined, like the ones on the bottom of the AirPods. However, fake AirPods have grills that tend to mix up with other flat surfaces.
The speaker grills of authentic AirPods differ from their clones. You will notice the silhouette of two tiny speakers on the real ones that the fake ones lack.
If you have AirPods Pro, while some of the differences listed above might apply, there is more you need to know. AirPods Pros are in-ear monitors that are different from the other AirPods, which are earbuds.
The design of real AirPods Pros differs from the counterfeits. Real ones have white plastic on the bottom, while clones have a thick silver bottom. The ear cup on real AirPods Pro is oval, while fake ones have circular ear cups.
Genuine AirPods Pros have a force sensor (shown below) on the earbud’s stem. The sensor detects when you squeeze the stem of the AirPods. You can use this feature to skip songs. Fake AirPods Pros have a button, or you need to tap the black oval to skip to the next song.
Another distinguishing factor between real and fake AirPods Pro is the noise canceling feature. Most counterfeits lack this feature. To turn on noise canceling:
- Turn on your AirPods Pro
- Go to your iOS or iPadOS’s Control Center
- Long press the volume slider so that the additional controls pop up
- In the lower-left corner, you’ll see the noise cancellation option
- Once you tap on noise cancellation, select the option you prefer
If you still feel the hardware check was insufficient, you can inspect the product software. There are features present in the software that counterfeit manufacturers cannot imitate.
1. Find My Platform
One such feature is the Find My app for Apple devices. The platform helps Apple users track their lost devices, like Apple AirPods. Once you pair your AirPods with your iOS or iPadOS, the device automatically adds them to your Find My account.
Therefore, you can track your AirPods until you find them. However, your Apple devices won’t add fake AirPods to your Find My account. If you had counterfeit ones, you probably would have lost them forever. You can try out this feature during purchase to prove the authenticity of the AirPods before purchase.
2. The More Info Icon
An ‘i’ usually represents the more Info icon.
To locate the more info icon, go to settings, tap Bluetooth, and tap the ‘i’ icon under devices. Authentic AirPods’ more info will display their serial number, firmware version, model number, and more.
Conversely, fake AirPods will display the device’s name and ask you to forget the device as other Bluetooth products do.
Learning to differentiate between authentic and fake AirPods can take time and effort. Find both real and phony products and compare them. This way, you will learn to detect even the minutest details on a counterfeit. Consequently, sellers will not trick you into buying a product that doesn’t fulfill your needs.
Although some might go for a counterfeit product, it is at the expense of great features available on Apple devices. Now that you know how to identify real AirPods, you can confidently purchase yours.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Masarik/Shutterstock.com.