Apple's randomized serials mean we can't check for dodgy screens anymore

Iphone Se 2020 Hero
Iphone Se 2020 Hero (Image credit: iMore)

A new report yesterday has Apple getting ready to switch to randomized device serial numbers within the next few months and that's cool and all. But it will have an impact on people who like to know a couple of things. Like when their device was made as well as the country it originated from.

As noted by MacRumors, the current serial number format lets people check all kinds of things, not least the device's configuration.

Apple's current serial number format has long allowed both customers and service providers to determine the date and location that a product was manufactured, with the first three characters representing the manufacturing location and the following two indicating the year and week of manufacture. The last four characters currently serve as a "configuration code," revealing a device's model, color, and storage capacity.

Macos Catalina Serial Number

Macos Catalina Serial Number (Image credit: MacRumors)

Device manufacture date and location are two things that people often like to look for when they're trying to rule their device in or out of potential problems. We've heard of iPhones made during a particular week suffering from faulty displays, for example. In fact, it's entirely possible that Apple is making this move to stop this from happening and to avoid people from heading into Apple Stores with imaginary problems because of their serial numbers.

The internet being the internet, we've seen plenty of theories bandied around over the years based on specific manufacturing locations and dates, most of which turn out to be completely wrong. If the new serial numbers stop that from happening it'll have been worth it.

Apple is rumored to be launching new products this month so it's possible they will be the first ones making use of the newly randomized serial numbers. Hopefully none of them will have any issues!

As for new iPhones, they're likely to be announced in September. By which time we can only hope the famous in-person Apple media events are back in full flow.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.