Apple has started using randomized serial numbers with the introduction of the purple iPhone 12 in many countries. The company had shared this plan internally with employees in March 2021, and has initiated the switch with the new purple iPhone 12 that was announced at the recent ‘Spring Loaded’ event’ The randomized serial number format consists of 10 characters, unlike the 12 characters that previous serial numbers have used.
Apple now uses a 10 character completely random serial number for purple iPhone 12
The randomized serial numbers so far seem applicable to the new purple iPhone 12, and likely the iPhone 12 mini. AirTag, however, do not seem to utilize this new serial number format. It is possible that other new products that Apple recently announced like the M1 iMac, M1 iPad Pro, and Apple TV 4K might also use this new randomized serial number format.
Apple had internally announced this change to its AppleCare staff members in March, explaining how the serial number will no longer include manufacturing information or configuration code. This change is applicable to only new products, as any current shipping products will continue to use the serial number they already had. The company had previously planned to make this switch in late 2020, but it was delayed and did not apply to any of the products that it launched in the last quarter of 2020.
From a customer’s perspective, this will have no impact on their usage. They will still be able to use the new serial numbers and enter them on Apple’s website to check their warranty or AppleCare status. The only difference is that the characters in the serial number will not have a specific format, allowing anyone to check its year or week of manufacturing, or its model, color, or storage capacity, since the serial number will simply have random characters. This will make it difficult for users to decipher such important information just by looking at the serial number, and could potentially stop counterfeit products from reverse-engineering the company’s serial numbers and re-using them.