Apple Begins Transition to Randomized Serial Numbers With Purple iPhone 12

MacRumors previously reported about Apple's plan to switch to randomized serial numbers for future products starting in early 2021, and this transition has now started with the new purple iPhone 12 model in multiple countries.

iphone 12 preorder purple
With assistance from Aaron Zollo, host of the YouTube channel ZolloTech, we can confirm that the purple iPhone 12 released last month has a new 10-character serial number format, compared to the usual 12 characters for most other Apple products. Apple previously said its randomized serial numbers would initially be 10 characters long, so the purple iPhone 12 appears to be the first Apple product with a randomized serial number.

The change likely extends to the purple iPhone 12 mini, but we've yet to confirm this. On the contrary, the randomized serial number format does not appear to apply to the AirTag at this time, with multiple MacRumors editors and others we've spoken to still seeing 12-character serial numbers for the item tracking accessory.

It remains to be seen if the new iMac, iPad Pro, and Apple TV have randomized serial numbers when they launch in the second half of May.

In a memo obtained by MacRumors in March, Apple said products already shipping at that time would continue to use the company's previous serial number format, which has for years allowed customers and service providers to determine the date and location that a product was manufactured. The first three characters represent the manufacturing location, the following two characters indicate the year and week of manufacture, and the last four characters reveal a device's model, color, and storage capacity.

The new serial number format will consist of a randomized alphanumeric string of 8-14 characters (10 characters initially) that will no longer include manufacturing or configuration details, according to Apple's memo. Apple advised authorized resellers to prepare for the transition to the new format ahead of its "Spring Loaded" event last month.

Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

Xenomorph Avatar
39 months ago
So it's not a serial number, then.

Serial means in series. Randomizing a number by definition means it cannot be in series, so it's not a serial number.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Eorlas Avatar
39 months ago
is there a particular reason for this transition? as in, if apple didnt want people to discern that info off a s/n, what is the need to obscure it?
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
usagora Avatar
39 months ago

So it's not a serial number, then.

Serial means in series. Randomizing a number by definition means it cannot be in series, so it's not a serial number.
I'm guessing it technically IS a serial number, just "encrypted."
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pgiguere1 Avatar
39 months ago

So it's not a serial number, then.

Serial means in series. Randomizing a number by definition means it cannot be in series, so it's not a serial number.
Ackchyually...

The new serial numbers aren't truly random. They're generated using a complex pseudo-random deterministic function, for which the input is a series.

In general, computers don't produce true randomness, they try to approximate it, so this is true in many cases outside of Apple.

So, instead of being a conventional series like 1, 2, 3, 4..., it's a series of functions like f(1), f(2), f(3), f(4)..., which I think is still fair to call a series.

Edit: I saw someone refer to it as "still a serial number, but encrypted". This is kind of what they're doing indeed. True randomness on the other hand would not be decryptable. I am not sure if the current format is actually encrypted though (implying the function is bijective), or if it just outputs a hash.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
subi257 Avatar
39 months ago

So it's not a serial number, then.

Serial means in series. Randomizing a number by definition means it cannot be in series, so it's not a serial number.
That is completely true....I love logic.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
_Spinn_ Avatar
39 months ago

I'm guessing it technically IS a serial number, just "encrypted."
That would actually be a clever way to keep the serial number meaningful to Apple but useless to everyone else.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Provenance Emulator

PlayStation, GameCube, Wii, and SEGA Emulator for iPhone and Apple TV Coming to App Store

Friday April 19, 2024 8:29 am PDT by
The lead developer of the multi-emulator app Provenance has told iMore that his team is working towards releasing the app on the App Store, but he did not provide a timeframe. Provenance is a frontend for many existing emulators, and it would allow iPhone and Apple TV users to emulate games released for a wide variety of classic game consoles, including the original PlayStation, GameCube, Wii,...
iPhone 15 Pro FineWoven

Apple Reportedly Stops Production of FineWoven Accessories

Sunday April 21, 2024 6:03 am PDT by
Apple has stopped production of FineWoven accessories, according to the Apple leaker and prototype collector known as "Kosutami." In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Kosutami explained that Apple has stopped production of FineWoven accessories due to its poor durability. The company may move to another non-leather material for its premium accessories in the future. Kosutami has revealed...
Delta Feature

Delta Game Emulator Now Available From App Store on iPhone

Wednesday April 17, 2024 9:58 am PDT by
Game emulator apps have come and gone since Apple announced App Store support for them on April 5, but now popular game emulator Delta from developer Riley Testut is available for download. Testut is known as the developer behind GBA4iOS, an open-source emulator that was available for a brief time more than a decade ago. GBA4iOS led to Delta, an emulator that has been available outside of...
iOS 17 All New Features Thumb

iOS 17.5 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Sunday April 21, 2024 3:00 am PDT by
The upcoming iOS 17.5 update for the iPhone includes only a few new user-facing features, but hidden code changes reveal some additional possibilities. Below, we have recapped everything new in the iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5 beta so far. Web Distribution Starting with the second beta of iOS 17.5, eligible developers are able to distribute their iOS apps to iPhone users located in the EU...