How to Spot Fake AirPods: A Step-by-Step Guide

In this guide, you’ll learn how to spot fake AirPods and what to do to avoid getting scammed.

AirPods are one of Apple’s most successful products. So you can expect to see a lot of copycats out there. As a typical Apple product, AirPods are expensive. So if you’re in the market to buy a used or a discounted pair, you need to be careful otherwise you’d buy AirPods knockoffs.

It’s not rocket science to recognize a fake product when you see one. But with AirPods, it can be a little difficult to spot one. Because there’re some perfect fake AirPods circulating on the market. And we got our hands on a new pair of fake AirPods 2 that look and behave exactly like the real thing. So how to check if AirPods are real or fake.

Check this out: How to fix iPhone stuck in headphone mode

How to Spot Fake AirPods

Follow these 7 different steps to check if your AirPods are authentic.

  1. Serial number
  2. Original Packaging
  3. Bottom side of AirPods
  4. Speaker grill
  5. Charging case
  6. Light indicator
  7. Lightning port

1. Check Serial Number on Apple’s Official Website

The first thing and most reliable way to spot fake AirPods is to verify the serial number on Apple’s official website. You can find the serial number on the underside of the AirPods charging case lid (where the left AirPod sits). You can also find the serial number on the original packaging next to the barcode.

checking AirPods serial number

Once you get that code written down, enter it here https://checkcoverage.apple.com. If Apple is able to pull up the serial number, the AirPods are authentic. You’ll find all sorts of information about service coverage, date of purchase, and telephone support.

However, if Apple didn’t manufacture your AirPods, they’d not be able to pull up the serial number on their records. Therefore you’ll get an error message once you verified the code.

Keep in mind you may buy a fake AirPods with a legit charging case or retail box. In that case, you need to look for more clues to verify if they’re real.

2. Check Original Packaging for Inconsistencies

One of the things that make people fall in love with Apple products is those little details. From the product itself to the packaging, Apple never disappoints.

We’ll take a closer look at both retail boxes (the authentic and the fake ones) compare them and see the differences. Here’s what we’ve found:

On the side, the authentic box got two separate stickers while its fake counterpart only got one that runs the length of the box. On the authentic box, they used a San Francisco font, while they used a different font.

Real AirPods vs Fake AirPods barcode

Moving on to the side with the Apple logo, as you can see on the fake box the Apple logo is curvy on the edges. The Apple logo on the legitimate box got sharp edges.

Real AirPods vs Fake AirPods Apple logo

Checking another facet of the box cover, the fonts are clearly different. On the authentic box, the fonts are ticker and have less space in between. On the other hand, the fonts on the fake box are thinner.

Real AirPods vs Fake AirPods imprinted name

Moving on to the backside of the box, the fonts again are different and the status light on the genuine box is brighter than the one on the fake AirPods box. We’ve also noticed the cover is tight on the genuine AirPods while it’s loose on the fake one.

Real AirPods vs Fake AirPods charging case

Let’s take a look inside and check the manual. The texts of “Designed by Apple in California” are printed in grey on the covering cardboard of the legitimate AirPods while on the fake one they’re printed in black.

Besides the fonts that are different, the legitimate manual has four different languages (English, French, Spanish, and Japanese) while the fake one got three (English, French, and German).

The icons on the fake AirPods manual are obviously not Apple’s real icons. Just take a look at them and you’ll instantly see the difference.

3. Checking the Bottom Side of AirPods

Next, we’ll take a closer look at the real thing. We’ll start with the bottom of the AirPods where the charge contacts are. The bottom grills of the authentic AirPods have an oval shape while the fake ones are oval but they’re larger and close to a round shape.

The fake AirPods have the grills in silver, instead of the dark grey found on their authentic counterpart. Besides that, the charging contacts (the white stripe) on the fake AirPods are larger than the ones on the real AirPods.

4. Check AirPods Speaker Grill

Moving on to the next step to check if your AirPods are legit. We’ll take a look at the speaker grills.

On the real AirPods, you can clearly see the shape of the speakers through the grill while on the fake ones you can barely see-through.

The IR proximity sensors on the real AirPods are completely flush with the body of the AirPods. You can barely feel the black dots with the touch while they protrude on the fake AirPods.

There’s no gap between the grills beside the IR proximity sensors and the top of the AirPods (not shown on the image above) and the body of the real AirPods. On the fake ones, there’s a space in between indicating poor manufacturing quality.

5. Comparing the Charging Cases

Continuing with our how to spot fake AirPods guide by examining both real and fake charging cases.

There are not a whole lot of differences when taking a glance at the charging cases. The hinges on the fake charging case are loose when it’s open.

Once again, the fonts are different on the replica case. Did you notice that unusual extra space between the “in” in Assembled in China?

The small button on the back of the genuine AirPods charging case is completely flush. On its fake counterpart, the pairing button protrudes from the case. You can find the button without looking at it while it can be hard to do so on the legitimate charging case.

6. Checking Light Indicator

Another simple way to check if your AirPods are fake is by checking the light indicator on the front or the inside of the case. Look for any misplacement or changes in color.

We didn’t notice any irregularities in the unit that we had. However, the opening port of the light indicator is smaller on the authentic AirPods.

7. Checking Lightning Port

We’re moving on with this guide by checking the lightning ports on the charging cases.

fake vs real AirPods lightning ports

We noticed there’s a small gap between the case and the lightning port on the fake AirPods charging case, which is nonexistent on the real one.

Besides that, the edges on the fake one are sharp while they’re rounded on the genuine one. That, once again, shows poor manufacturing quality. Well, that makes sense. They got to keep the cost low, that’s why they’re cheap.

Wrapping Up

As you can see even the most tech-savvy person would think this fake pair of AirPods are authentic. The manufacturers did a great job with these replicas in terms of similarity–they look and feel exactly the same.

They’ve even cloned Apple’s H1 chip, which allows these fake AirPods to connect seamlessly with other iOS and Mac devices. These were a perfect fake AirPods 2 with an H1 chip.

If this guide showed you how to spot fake AirPods, please share it on your favorite social media so your friends can enjoy it, too.

Herby has a healthy obsession with all things technology, especially with smartphones. He loves to rip things apart to see how they work.

16 thoughts on “How to Spot Fake AirPods: A Step-by-Step Guide”

  1. Hi,

    Thank you for this good how-to guide. Unfortunately, I still bought fake AirPods (wintertime is not good for checking all that small stuff :D). Anyway, the best way to discover fake AirPods is: Connect them to your iPhone and check in the menu if there is info about the model and if the serial number is the same as the one on the device.
    Good luck and maybe put this as step NUMERO UNO 🙂
    Kirill

    Reply
    • Hey James, knock-off AirPods will not have the same performance as the real AirPods. Sound quality, connection, durability won’t be as good as the real AirPods.

      Reply
  2. Unfortunately, My friend gave me fake AirPods and said she brought it for $139 but I looked on this site and found out she lied 🙁

    Reply
    • Hey Rosie, Sorry to hear that. Always check the serial number on Apple’s website. If you’re buying online and the seller refuses to give you the serial number make sure they accept return so you can return them if anything is wrong.

      Reply
  3. I work as an IT consultant and one of my clients thought they might have purchased fake AirPods and they sent me a link to your article.
    You have some good information here but I think it’s missing the easiest way to tell Fake from Genuine, which is to weigh them.
    Genuine Airpods gen 1 and 2 weigh 4g each, most fakes weigh less, about 3g in most cases.
    AirPods Pro weighs 5.4g each and the fakes around 4 – 4.3grams.
    And for the US people, Gen 1 and 2 AirPods weigh 0.14 oz each.
    Airpods Pro 0.19 oz each.

    Reply
    • Hi Damien, thanks for dropping by. For sure, if someone has a small weight scale at home, that might be the easiest way to tell fake from genuine AirPods. Thanks for your input. It’s really appreciated.

      Reply
  4. Thanks for making this guide Herby. I just found out that I bought fake airpods and without this guide I would’ve never known. Luckily I got them off of eBay for only $90, but that should’ve been a red flag. Honestly the packaging is pretty close and they feel spot on compared to real airpods, but the size and spacing on the font gave everything away. Also the seller gave me a case to go with the airpods which promptly broke the top off (again another red flag) and I noticed that the connection range was terrible. Two interesting things though are that 1.) The pods had siri before I even connected to the internet after I tapped on one of them 5 times 2.) Whenever I reset them, there was a beep and a blue light on both pods. I think the most important thing that I should’ve noticed though is the auto pause/play. I have an android but it was working fine. At this point they broke, and the case doesn’t turn on at all. tbh I feel kind of stupid, but it’ll teach me to be more careful.

    Reply
  5. So I’m still not sure if my AirPods are fake or not. I let my friend use them because I got my phone took so after I let him use them his girl showed me that one of the AirPods was lighting up green it was the right AirPod.

    Reply
    • Hi Seven, It doesn’t seem your AirPods are fake based on your situation. Have you checked its serial number in Apple’s coverage checking tool?

      Reply
  6. i recently got some airpods second generation and when i connect them it still uses my iphone mic for example if i am recording a video and walk away whilst talking my voice gets quieter when it should stay the same volume if i had my airpods in my ears i’ve looked everywhere and haven’t found anyone with the same issue can you help?

    Reply

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