Apple has begun a switch to randomized serial numbers for its products, with the purple iPhone 12 becoming the first Apple gadget to use a new 10-character serial number format.
Purple iPhone 12 Comes With Randomized Serial Numbers
Most other Apple products use a 12-character serial number format so the purple iPhone 12 is officially the first Apple product to switch to the 10-character randomized serial numbers.
This was first spotted by MacRumors, with assistance from Aaron Zollo, who is the host of the ZolloTech channel on YouTube. The site couldn’t confirm at post time whether the change extends to other iPhone 12 models, like the purple iPhone 12 mini.
Curiously enough, the company’s new Apple AirTag personal item tracker ships with the old 12-character sequential serial numbers. One reason for this could be the fact that Apple apparently had the AirTag accessory ready to launch for a while, with some people seeing a manufacturing date as far back as 2019 printed on product packaging.
So, the AirTag box says 2020.
The Leather Keyring says 2019.
First AirTag leak was back in 2019.
They’ve been ready for the past 2 years. pic.twitter.com/TgrAw3z4C6
— Daniel (@ZONEofTECH) April 30, 2021
As MUO reported, Apple’s recent internal email to AppleCare staff has informed support personnel to prepare for an upcoming switch to randomized product serial numbers, basically alphanumeric string of eight to 14 characters, starting with 10 characters initially.
The change applies to new products, the email clarified, with the existing products shipping at the time continuing to use the current serial number format. While the purple iPhone 12 is technically not a new product, it’s a new SKU (stock keeping unit) in Apple’s system and as such eligible for the new randomly generated serial numbers.
Why Use Randomized Serial Numbers?
The old 12-character serial number system encodes certain product details that one could decipher to reveal tidbits such as manufacturing date or configuration information like the type of CPU used, storage, color, and more.
None of that is possible with the new serial number format, which as a result boosts your privacy a little bit. As an example, the first three characters of the serial number represent the manufacturing location and the following two tell you the year and week of manufacture.
Also, technology analysts and watchers were able to estimate product sales pretty accurately by keeping track of the old serial numbers because they are created sequentially. And because customers can no longer determine the exact date a product was manufactured, the new format reduces unwarranted customer complaints.
Believe it or not, some folks would take their iPhone to Apple believing it might be suffering from a specific issue just because it was manufactured on a specific week or month. And last but not least, switching from sequential to randomized serial numbers prevents accidental registration of things and even helps reduce fraud like warranty swaps.