How to tell if your AirPods are fake

Main points

  • Suspicious cheap AirPods are probably fake. Trust serial numbers – If serial numbers are invalid, they are not legitimate.
  • Check out unique iPhone features like spatial audio. Hardware bugs, weird colors, and earbuds are all giveaways.
  • Use your iPhone to connect. Real AirPods will display connection prompts and battery life. Don’t be fooled by fakes.

Whether you’re considering buying some cheap AirPods, bought them second-hand, or you’ve received some AirPods that look “substandard”, it might be worth checking to see if your AirPods are genuine. This is especially true if you find any key features are missing, or they don’t look quite right.

With a keen eye and knowing what to look for, you can easily determine if your AirPods are fake by checking a few key factors. Some of these can be done before you buy them, others after you own them.


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1 Consider whether this deal is too good a deal

These pods may be too cheap to be authentic

person taking money from wallet

Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

When you see AirPods on sale for dirt-cheap prices, you’re probably dealing with a fake. Generally speaking, if you see new AirPods Pro for less than $150, or AirPods Max for less than $400, you should definitely be skeptical. Older generations may be resold for cheaper, so keep that in mind. If you buy so-called refurbished AirPods, you can expect them to cost a lot less than the original price, but not a lot less.


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2 Find serial number

Check the box, your settings, and the content on the shell

AirPods Pro serial number

Your AirPods should have a serial number on the bottom of the box. If you enter that serial number into Apple’s warranty coverage checker, it will tell you whether it’s currently covered under warranty and whether the serial number is invalid. If the serial number is invalid, you have received fake AirPods. However, even if it is valid, there is no guarantee that they are true.

If you don’t have the protective case that came with your AirPods, you can also check the serial number by visiting: set up > Bluetooth Then click the Information button next to AirPods in the Bluetooth menu. Additionally, if your headphones are genuine, there will be a serial number underneath the lid inside the AirPods case.

If you have the box your AirPods came in, you can compare the serial number on the box with the serial number on the AirPods. If the numbers don’t match, something is wrong.

3 Check functionality when connected to iPhone

Check to see if all settings have been checked

Airpods - close to iPhone

AirPods come with some features specifically for iPhone users, but they’re not easy for counterfeiters to replicate. If you check a few of these features, you will definitely be sure if you have a fake in your hands/hands.

First, before pairing, simply open the box containing your AirPods near your phone. If the AirPods are indeed real, a card will appear on the screen allowing you to connect to the AirPods. Once paired, you can open the AirPods case next to your phone and see if a card with battery life information appears on the screen. If so, then you have real AirPods. If not, problems may arise.

If they are one of the newer AirPods, you can also check to see if spatial audio is available. If you can’t set up and use spatial audio, then these earbuds aren’t all they seem.


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4 Find hardware errors

Are the colors weird? Wrong earbud size?

AirPods Pro 2

Many times, counterfeiting is done very sloppily. If you look closely at the packaging, you may immediately notice some errors, such as misspellings, formatting errors, and strange fonts. Additionally, the earbuds may not look much like AirPods, they may be a different shape, a slightly different color, or they may be the wrong type of earbuds. Maybe the charging port is Micro USB instead of USB-C or the old Lightning port. These are all signs that you have counterfeit AirPods.


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Q: What if my AirPods are fake?

If you determine that your AirPods are fake, unfortunately, there’s not much you can do. Apple won’t let you return them because it’s not the manufacturer, and they won’t replace them with genuine ones. You can return them to the seller and hope to get your money back, but that’s up to the seller. If you paid this way, you can also try contacting your credit card company to see if you can get a refund, but that may not work either.

Q: How to avoid buying fake AirPods by mistake?

It’s important to exercise caution when purchasing any tech product from a third-party seller so you don’t end up in this situation in the first place, especially since Apple products are often counterfeited. Make sure you buy your AirPods directly from Apple or an Apple authorized reseller.

Q: What if I want more affordable AirPods?

If you’re looking for new headphones but don’t have the money to buy new AirPods, consider investing in some more affordable headphones instead of buying cheap fake AirPods. Our AV editors recently tested the OnePlus Buds 3 and found them to be a great AirPods alternative for just under $100. There are plenty of great, affordable options out there that are better than fake AirPods.

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