The Complete Guide To iPhone Serial Numbers


The serial number on an iPhone is assigned based on a special algorithm. As a result, your iPhone’s serial number has a lot of information, including information about its manufacturer, model number, technical specifications of the phone, and the date when the phone was manufactured.

All iPhone serial numbers start with a letter, including M, F, and C. Read on to find out what the first letter in an iPhone’s serial number means and whether fake Apple products come with real serial numbers.

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What Does the First Letter in iPhone Serial Number Mean?

The first letter in your iPhone’s serial number represents the manufacturing location. It is the location code for where your device was manufactured. The rest of the numbers indicate the year and the week of manufacture, a unique identifier, and the model number.

When you look at an iPhone’s serial number either printed at the back of the device or found in the settings, you will notice an alphanumeric code.

Here’s what all the letters or numbers in the serial number of your iPhone mean:

  • The first three digits are for the manufacturing location.
  • The next two numbers are the year and week the device was manufactured.
  • The next three represent a unique identifier for your device.
  • And the last four digits indicate the model number of your iPhone.

The first letter of the serial number only represents the manufacturing location and not the factory. For example, the factories in China are represented with both letters and numbers. Whereas the Asian, European, and American factories are assigned alphabetic codes, usually representing the first letters of their names. However, the letters RM mean refurbished or remanufactured.

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What Does M Mean In iPhone Serial Number?

If your iPhone’s serial number starts with M, it means that the iPhone was manufactured in Malaysia. However, if the 4th character of your iPhone’s serial number is M, it means that your iPhone was manufactured in the first half of the year 2014.

The first three characters of your iPhone’s serial number represent the manufacturing location. The next two represent the year and the week your iPhone was manufactured.

So if the first letter of your iPhone’s serial number starts with M, it means that it was manufactured in Apple’s Malaysian factory. If the 4th character of the serial number is an M, it represents the first half of 2014.

Apple divides the year into halves as it rolls out silent upgrades every six months of each year. Therefore, the fourth character of the serial number shows both the year when the device was manufactured and the part of the year it was manufactured in (first or second). 

What Does F Mean In Serial Number iPhone?

If your iPhone’s serial number starts with F only, your iPhone was manufactured in Fremont, California. Your iPhone was manufactured in Fountain, Colorado, if it begins with FC. Your iPhone was manufactured in Foxconn, Zhengzhou, if it starts with FK, F1, or F2. If it begins with F7, your iPhone was manufactured in China.

The first two letters of your iPhone’s serial number represent its manufacturing location. So if your iPhone’s serial number starts with F, it was either manufactured in the USA or China. You can determine the exact location by looking at the second letter of the serial number.

  • F — Fremont, California, USA
  • FC — Fountain Colorado, USA
  • FK, F1, or F2 — Foxconn, Zhengzhou, China
  • F7 — China

However, if the 4th character of your iPhone’s serial number is F, it represents the year when your iPhone was manufactured. An ‘F’ indicates that your iPhone was manufactured in the first half of 2011 or 2021, as this range loops every decade.

What Does C Means in iPhone Serial Number?

If your iPhone’s serial number starts with CK, it was manufactured in Cork, Ireland. If it begins with CY, it was made in Korea. If it starts with C0, it was made in Tech Com – Quanta Computer Subsidiary, China. If it starts with C3, it was made in Foxconn, Shenzhen. Finally, if it starts with C7, it was made in Pendragon, Shanghai.

The first two letters of your serial number represent the location where it was manufactured. However, if you see the letter ‘C’ as the 4th character of your iPhone’s serial number, it represents the year your iPhone was manufactured.

So a ‘C’ as the fourth character in the serial number means that your iPhone was either manufactured in the first half of 2010 or 2020, as this range loops every decade.

Learn more about the secret language of Apple’s serial numbers here.

Can Fake Apple Products Have Real Serial Numbers?

Some third-party sellers have been reported selling Apple AirPods with real serial numbers by replacing the fake AirPod case’s lid with an original one and selling it as an original AirPod. However, this is not possible for any other Apple product.

The only scenario where resellers can sell knock-off Apple products with real serial numbers is with Apple AirPods. Unfortunately, several people have bought fake Apple AirPods with real serial numbers.Opens in a new tab.

It’s only possible when sellers buy original AirPods and replace the fake AirPods case’s lid with the real one so that the serial number in the case lid tricks buyers into thinking that the fake AirPods are real.

After using these AirPods, users realize that they aren’t original. But there are a few ways you can escape from being tricked into buying fake AirPodsOpens in a new tab.:

  • The AirPods box is in a blueish white shade, rather than the Apple white shade, pure white.
  • The case’s lid appears to be loose due to being replaced by the seller.
  • You can see the insides of your AirPods when you place them on a flashlight. If you can’t see inside, then they are original. 

Did you accidentally get your AirPods wet? Read my article to learn what you should do if your AirPods get wet.Opens in a new tab.

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