Future Apple products to feature randomized serial numbers

Macos Catalina Serial Number
Macos Catalina Serial Number (Image credit: MacRumors)

What you need to know

  • Apple is planning to introduce randomized serial numbers in future products.
  • The change could be an effort to curb potential fraud.

It appears that future Apple products will all be switching over to randomized serial numbers.

As reported by MacRumors, the company plans to remove the manufacturing information and configuration code that is currently used to put together a product's serial number and instead generate a random alphanumeric string.

In an internal AppleCare email this week, obtained by MacRumors, Apple said the new serial number format will consist of a randomized alphanumeric string of 8-14 characters that will no longer include manufacturing information or a configuration code. Apple said the serial number format transition is scheduled for "early 2021," and confirmed that IMEI numbers will not be affected by this change.

The company says that the new serial numbers will get 10 characters long instead of the 14-digit serial numbers that currently exist. Existing products will maintain the old format, however. This makes sense since some products, like the Mac, currently have the serial number etched into the computer itself.

According to the report, the change may help prevent fraud, as people were able to understand certain things about a product when looking at the old serial numbers.

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.

Apple apparently planned on making the change towards the end of 2020, but delayed it until "early 2021."

Some of the products using the new serial numbers could be announced as early as this month, as Apple is rumored to be hosting a March event that could unveil the anticipated 2021 iPad Pro refreshes as well as the long-rumored AirTags.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.