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Spotting Fake AirPods: A Quick Guide

AirPods have become extremely popular, which unfortunately means that counterfeit versions have flooded the market. It can be frustrating to invest in what you think are genuine AirPods only to discover they are fake. Luckily, there are certain signs and steps you can take to identify counterfeit AirPods and ensure you’re purchasing the real deal.

Key Takeaways:

  • Checking the packaging, serial number, and contents is crucial to identify fake AirPods.
  • Examining the charging case and the AirPods themselves for inconsistencies can help determine authenticity.
  • Connecting the AirPods to an iPhone and testing features like “find my” and instant connect can reveal their genuineness.
  • Report counterfeit AirPods to Apple and seek a refund if necessary.
  • Buy from reputable sources to ensure the purchase of authentic AirPods.

Check the Packaging

Before opening the box of your AirPods, it’s crucial to carefully inspect the packaging for any signs of counterfeit products. By paying attention to the details on the box, you can determine whether your AirPods are genuine or fake.

Here are some key indicators to look for:

  • Missing Punctuation: Authentic AirPods packaging will have proper punctuation, so be on the lookout for any missing or incorrect punctuation marks.
  • Misspelled Words: Counterfeit packaging often contains spelling mistakes or typos. Take the time to carefully read the text on the box.
  • Incorrect Stickers: Genuine AirPods boxes should have multiple stickers on the back, including a perfect semicircular ‘bite’ mark in the Apple logo. If you notice any discrepancies or irregularities, it could be a sign of fake AirPods.

A genuine AirPods box will also include a warranty card and a safety sheet, providing further evidence of authenticity.

By paying close attention to these details, you can protect yourself from purchasing counterfeit AirPods and ensure that you receive a genuine product.

Verify the Serial Number

One of the most crucial steps in determining the authenticity of AirPods is to verify the serial number. The serial number can be found on the box or the lid of the charging case. Once you have located the serial number, use Apple’s dedicated tool to check if it is a genuine Apple serial number. While this verification is an essential part of the authentication process, it does not guarantee the authenticity of the AirPods. However, if the tool indicates that the serial number is not valid, it is highly likely that the AirPods are counterfeit.

If you are unsure of how to find the serial number on your AirPods’ box or case, refer to the instruction manual or Apple’s support website for detailed instructions.

Image: Example of an AirPods charging case with the serial number located on the lid.

Examine the Charging Case

spotting fake AirPods through the charging case

One of the key areas to scrutinize when determining the authenticity of AirPods is the charging case. By carefully inspecting the case, you can spot potential signs of counterfeit AirPods. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Lightning Port: Genuine AirPods come with a charging case that features a Lightning port. Counterfeit AirPods may have a different port, such as USB-C or micro-USB.
  • Multifunction Button: The multifunction button on the back of the genuine AirPods charging case should sit flush with the casing. In contrast, counterfeit AirPods may have buttons that are raised or not aligned properly.
  • Hinges and Seams: Carefully examine the charging case for any loose hinges, scuffs, or visible seams. Genuine AirPods have a high-quality build with seamless construction.

Furthermore, pay attention to the LED indicator on the charging case. Counterfeit AirPods may have a blue LED or an LED located in a different position compared to genuine ones.

By carefully examining the charging case, you can identify potential irregularities that may indicate the presence of fake AirPods.

Take a look at the image below to see the different components of the charging case:

Comparison of Genuine and Counterfeit AirPods Charging Cases

Features Genuine AirPods Charging Case Counterfeit AirPods Charging Case
Port Lightning Port USB-C or micro-USB Port
Multifunction Button Flush with casing Raised or misaligned
Hinges and Seams No loose hinges, scuffs, or visible seams Poor construction and visible defects
LED Indicator White LED positioned correctly Blue LED or different LED placement
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This table provides a visual comparison of the features found in genuine and counterfeit AirPods charging cases.

Inspect the AirPods Themselves

identifying fake AirPods

When it comes to identifying fake AirPods, a thorough inspection of the earbuds themselves can reveal many signs of counterfeit products. Here are some key indicators to look out for:

  1. Loose grilles: Genuine AirPods have tightly secured grilles, while fake ones may have grilles that feel wobbly or unsteady.
  2. Deviations in shape: Authentic AirPods have a sleek and uniform design, so any noticeable differences in shape, size, or symmetry could indicate counterfeit AirPods.
  3. Missing force sensor indents: Genuine AirPods have small force sensor indents on each earbud, which allow users to control playback and access other features. Counterfeit AirPods often lack these indents or have poorly imitated versions.
  4. Poorly fastened material: Inspect the AirPods for any signs of poor construction, such as loose or poorly glued components. Genuine AirPods are well-assembled and should not exhibit any visible flaws.
  5. Noticeable seams and ill-meshing: Thoroughly examine the seams and overall construction of the AirPods. Authentic AirPods have seamless integration between different parts, while counterfeit versions may show signs of rough edges, noticeable seams, or ill-meshing.

It is also essential to compare the AirPods with official product photos from Apple. Any deviations or inconsistencies in design, color, or branding can be strong indications of fake AirPods. Additionally, keep in mind that genuine AirPods are only available in white. If you encounter AirPods in any other colors, they are likely counterfeit.

In conclusion, carefully inspecting the AirPods themselves for loose grilles, deviations in shape, missing force sensor indents, poorly fastened material, noticeable seams, and ill-meshing can help you identify counterfeit AirPods. Remember to compare them with official product photos and be cautious of any non-white AirPods. Stay vigilant and protect yourself from purchasing fake products.

Connect to Your Phone

connecting AirPods to iPhone

Connecting the AirPods to an iPhone is a crucial step in verifying their authenticity. By following this process, you can thoroughly test the AirPods’ features to determine if they are genuine. Here’s how:

1. Pairing Process:

When connecting genuine AirPods to an iPhone, a series of pop-up cards will appear to guide you through the pairing process. These prompts indicate that the AirPods are authentic and have successfully connected to your device. In contrast, fake AirPods may not trigger these pop-up cards, which can be a red flag.

2. Feature Testing:

One of the key aspects of testing AirPods to determine their authenticity is examining the functionality of specific features. Genuine AirPods seamlessly integrate with iPhone features such as “find my” earbuds and instant connect. If these functionalities do not work or are unavailable with the AirPods you’re testing, they may be counterfeit.

Note: It’s worth mentioning that testing AirPods’ features can be more challenging for Android users, as these features are primarily designed for Apple devices.

To help you visualize the process, here’s an interactive table summarizing the steps to connect AirPods to an iPhone and test their features:

Step Description
1 Open the AirPods case near your iPhone
2 Select the AirPods from the list of available Bluetooth devices
3 Follow the on-screen instructions for pairing
4 Check if pop-up cards appear during the pairing process
5 Test features like “find my” earbuds and instant connect

Remember, the smooth integration of genuine AirPods with iPhones is a significant differentiating factor. By connecting your AirPods to your iPhone and testing their features, you can further verify their authenticity.

What to Do if You Have Counterfeit AirPods

seeking a refund for counterfeit AirPods

If you discover that you have purchased fake AirPods, it is crucial to take action to protect your rights and seek a refund. Follow these steps to minimize the impact of counterfeit products:

  1. Contact the Seller: Begin by reaching out to the seller from whom you purchased the AirPods. Explain the situation politely and provide evidence showing that the AirPods are counterfeit. Avoid confronting the seller in person, as it is best to handle the situation through proper channels.
  2. Report to Apple: Use Apple’s reporting tool to inform the company about the counterfeit AirPods. Provide as much information as possible, including details about the seller, product packaging, and any correspondences. This helps Apple track and investigate counterfeit products, ensuring the safety of their customers.
  3. Seek a Refund: If you purchased the AirPods with a credit card, consider contacting your credit card company to inquire about a chargeback. Explain the situation and provide any supporting evidence. The credit card company may be able to assist you in recovering your funds.
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Keep in mind that dealing with counterfeit AirPods can be challenging, and there is no guarantee of a refund. However, by taking these actions, you increase your chances of resolving the situation and reducing the financial impact of counterfeit purchases.

Remember, it is crucial to prioritize your safety and consumer rights by reporting counterfeit AirPods to Apple and seeking a refund through the appropriate channels.

Buying Authentic AirPods

To ensure the purchase of genuine AirPods, it is crucial to buy directly from Apple or reputable vendors who specialize in selling authentic Apple products. While it may be tempting to seek out cheaper alternatives or private sellers, the risk of purchasing counterfeit AirPods greatly increases in such cases. By prioritizing authenticity and taking the necessary precautions, you can avoid falling victim to fake AirPods.

Where to Buy Genuine AirPods

When looking to buy AirPods, consider the following reliable sources:

  1. Apple Store: The most secure and trusted way to purchase authentic AirPods is through the official Apple Store either online or in-person at their physical locations. This guarantees the highest level of authenticity and quality assurance.
  2. Authorized Retailers: Reputable retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart, and Target are authorized to sell genuine Apple products. Check their websites or visit their stores to find authentic AirPods.
  3. Certified Resellers: There are authorized resellers that specialize in selling authentic Apple products. Examples include MacMall, B&H Photo Video, and Expercom. These resellers have a track record of providing genuine products and reliable customer service.

It is important to note that purchasing AirPods from online marketplaces or through individual sellers comes with a higher risk of encountering counterfeit products. While some individual sellers may offer authentic AirPods, it can be difficult to verify their legitimacy. Be cautious when considering such options and thoroughly research the seller’s reputation before making a purchase.

Avoiding Counterfeit AirPods

When purchasing AirPods, keep the following tips in mind to avoid counterfeit products:

  • Price: If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of significantly discounted AirPods, especially from sellers who cannot verify the authenticity of the product.
  • Seller Reviews: Before purchasing from a seller, check their reviews and ratings. Look for reviews specific to AirPods or other Apple products to get a sense of their credibility.
  • User Feedback: Take the time to read user feedback and comments on product listings. Look for any mentions of counterfeit AirPods or experiences with fake products.

By buying from trusted sources, you significantly reduce the risk of purchasing counterfeit AirPods. Remember that investing in authentic AirPods ensures you enjoy the full benefits and features of the product, guaranteeing a seamless and high-quality audio experience.


Spotting fake AirPods can be challenging, but with careful examination and consideration, it is possible to determine their authenticity. By thoroughly inspecting the packaging for any signs of counterfeit AirPods, verifying the serial number through Apple’s official channel, and examining the charging case and the AirPods themselves for any inconsistencies, individuals can increase their chances of identifying genuine products.

Connecting the AirPods to an iPhone and testing features like “find my” and the instant connect feature can also help differentiate between real and fake AirPods. Additionally, it is crucial to report any counterfeit AirPods to Apple and seek a refund if necessary. Taking these steps not only protects consumers but also helps combat the production and distribution of fraudulent products.

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When purchasing AirPods, it is essential to buy from reputable sources such as Apple or well-known vendors. Avoiding incredibly low prices and private sellers reduces the risk of purchasing counterfeit AirPods. By prioritizing authenticity and considering the overall buying experience, individuals can ensure they are buying genuine AirPods and avoid falling victim to counterfeit products.


How can I tell if AirPods are fake?

Spotting fake AirPods can be challenging, but there are several signs to look out for. You can check the packaging, verify the serial number, examine the charging case, inspect the AirPods themselves, connect them to your phone, and consider the overall buying experience to determine their authenticity.

What should I look for in the packaging of AirPods to identify if they are fake?

When checking the packaging, look for missing punctuation, misspelled words, incorrect stickers on the box, and a perfect semicircular bite mark in the Apple logo. Genuine AirPods should also come with a warranty card and a safety sheet. Any deviations in these details may indicate fake AirPods.

How can I verify the serial number of AirPods to confirm their authenticity?

To verify the serial number, locate it on the box or the charging case lid, and then use Apple’s serial number checker to confirm if it is genuine. If the tool indicates otherwise, the AirPods are likely counterfeit. However, even if the serial number is confirmed, there is still no guarantee that the AirPods are authentic.

What should I examine in the charging case of AirPods to spot fakes?

When examining the charging case, check for a Lightning port (not a USB-C or micro-USB port), a flush-fitting multifunction button on the back, no loose hinges, scuffs, or visible seams, and the correct LED color and placement. Any deviations in these aspects may indicate fake AirPods.

What should I look for in the AirPods themselves to identify if they are fake?

When inspecting the AirPods, watch out for loose grilles, deviations in shape, missing force sensor indents, poorly fastened material, noticeable seams, ill-meshing seams, and any deviations from the official product photos. Genuine AirPods should only be available in white, so any other colors are a clear sign of fakes.

How can I connect AirPods to my phone to verify their authenticity?

Connecting the AirPods to an iPhone can be a reliable way to verify authenticity. Genuine AirPods will prompt a series of pop-up cards during the pairing process, while fake AirPods may not trigger these prompts. Features like “find my” earbuds and instant connect may not work with counterfeit AirPods.

What should I do if I discover that I have counterfeit AirPods?

If you discover that you have counterfeit AirPods, contact the seller and explain the situation, but avoid confronting them in person. You should also report the issue to Apple using their reporting tool and provide as much information as possible. It is essential to also seek a refund for the counterfeit AirPods.

Where should I buy authentic AirPods to ensure their authenticity?

To ensure the purchase of authentic AirPods, it is recommended to buy directly from Apple or reputable vendors. Avoid suspiciously low prices or private sellers who may not be able to verify the authenticity. Check the seller’s reviews and look for user feedback on the product listing.

How can I best avoid purchasing counterfeit AirPods?

To avoid purchasing counterfeit AirPods, it is important to buy from trusted sources like Apple or reputable vendors. Avoid suspiciously low prices and sellers who cannot verify the authenticity of the product. Prioritize authenticity and quality over getting a good deal.

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