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 Roundup: iPhone 12
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

Xenomorph Avatar
10 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
10 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
10 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
10 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
10 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
10 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)

Related Stories

april 2021 event coverage feature

Apple Event Live Coverage: New iPads, AirTags, and More Expected [Event Over]

Tuesday April 20, 2021 9:07 am PDT by
Apple's virtual "Spring Loaded" event kicks off today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, with Apple expected to debut updated iPad models and perhaps some other hardware such as AirTags or iMac models based on Apple silicon. Apple is providing a live video stream on its website, on YouTube, and in the company's TV app across its platforms. We will also be updating this article with live blog...
iPad Pro Feature Orange

Wedbush Analysts Say 'Spring Loaded' Event Will Debut New iPads With 'Modest Price Increase,' Along With 'a Few Surprises'

Monday April 19, 2021 6:37 am PDT by
Apple is planning to launch a new entry-level iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Pro at its "Spring Loaded" event tomorrow, along with "a few surprises," according to Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analysts Daniel Ives and Strecker Backe explained that the iPad will be the main focus of Apple's "Spring Loaded" event, with new entry-level iPad, iPad mini, and ...
airtag engraving 69

Apple Tries to Limit Offensive AirTag Engravings... With Mixed Results

Wednesday April 21, 2021 3:16 am PDT by
Apple's AirTag item trackers can be custom-engraved using text, numbers, and even emoji, but users looking to express some college humor will likely need to look elsewhere, because Apple's online AirTag personalization tool is easily offended. An AirTag is just big enough to fit up to four characters or up to three emoji. That might seem just enough to get dubiously creative with your...
apple store down airtags

Apple's Online Store Goes Down to Prepare for AirTag and Purple iPhone 12 Orders

Thursday April 22, 2021 10:55 pm PDT by
Apple's online storefront is down in preparation for the launch of the AirTags and the new purple iPhone 12 models, which are set to be available starting at 5:00 a.m. Pacific Time or 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time in the United States. Ahead of new product launches, Apple often takes its online store offline in order to get ready for the influx of orders. Announced at Tuesday's "Spring Loaded"...
ipad pro with m1 chip

Apple Files New M1 iPad Pro in Eurasian Economic Database

Thursday April 29, 2021 3:40 am PDT by
A little over a week since their announcement, and less than a month before their official launch, Apple has filed the brand new M1 iPad Pros into the Eurasian Economic Commission database. The filings, seen by MacRumors, include two iPad Pros with multiple model numbers each, likely referring to the 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes and corresponding WiFi and WiFi/Cellular variants. One...
macos catalina serial number

Apple Preparing Rollout of New Randomized Product Serial Numbers Ahead of 'Spring Loaded' Event

Wednesday April 14, 2021 2:08 am PDT by
Apple is advising its authorized premium resellers and dealers to prepare for new products with 10 and 12 digital serial numbers, days ahead of when it's expected to reveal a slew of new products. MacRumors previously reported that Apple plans to switch to randomized serial numbers for future products starting in early 2021. The company now seems to be preparing for that roll-out, telling...
Top Stories 57 Feature

Top Stories: Apple Event Next Tuesday, Mini-LED iPad Pro, iPhone Rumors

Saturday April 17, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
It feels like we've been waiting forever for new Apple products, but the wait is almost over as Apple has announced a media event for next Tuesday, so make sure to tune into MacRumors for full coverage of everything Apple announces. While that was the big news this week, we also got some new details on Apple's iPhone plans for 2022 and 2023 courtesy of analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and we also saw...
maxresdefault

Apple Event 2021: Everything Apple Announced at Its 'Spring Loaded' Event in Just 6 Minutes

Tuesday April 20, 2021 4:23 pm PDT by
Apple today held its first event of 2021, and it was one of the most exciting events that we've seen in some time. Apple announced a whole slew of new products, including an M1 iMac, an M1 iPad Pro, a refreshed 4K Apple TV, and the long-awaited AirTags. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. It took Apple an hour to introduce all of the new devices during its virtual...

Popular Stories

Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
macbook pro 14 16 2021

Three Months After Launch, Apple Still Struggling to Meet Demand for Redesigned 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Monday January 24, 2022 7:12 am PST by
Three months after their launch, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros continue to experience high demand and seemingly short supply, with shipping dates for both models stretching into multiple weeks in several of Apple's key markets. In the United States, the baseline 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip is estimated to ship in three to four weeks, promising an arrival by at least...
att gigabit internet

AT&T Bringing $180/Month 5-Gigabit Internet to 70 Cities

Monday January 24, 2022 9:20 am PST by
AT&T today announced the launch of upgraded AT&T Fiber plans, which support speeds of up to 5 Gigabits for some customers. There are two separate plans, one "2 GIG" plan and one "5 GIG" plan, available to new and existing AT&T Fiber subscribers. According to AT&T, the new plans are available to nearly 5.2 million customers across 70 metro areas including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San...
airpodsinear 1

AirPods Save Woman's Life With Feature Everyone Should Know

Friday January 21, 2022 2:13 am PST by
Apple's AirPods have been credited with saving a woman's life after a potentially fatal fall, People reports. When a 60-year-old florist in New Jersey tripped and hit her head in her studio, she lost consciousness and awoke heavily bleeding. With nobody around to call for help, she realized she had her AirPods in, and used a "Hey Siri" command to call 911. An operator was able to stay on the ...
AirPods Pro Gen 3 Mock Feature ugly yellow

AirPods Pro 2 Could Beat AirPods Max Sound Quality

Monday January 24, 2022 2:15 am PST by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro could deliver higher fidelity audio than the AirPods Max over-ear headphones, despite being comparatively small in-ear buds, recent reports have suggested. In a recent note to investors, seen by MacRumors, TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that the second-generation AirPods Pro will offer improved audio quality thanks to support...
iCloud General Feature

Developers Unhappy With Bug Causing iCloud Unreliability

Monday January 24, 2022 10:15 am PST by
A number of developers are upset with an increasingly problematic iCloud server issue that is causing some apps that have implemented iCloud support to fail to sync properly. As outlined on the Developer Forums and on Twitter, there are CloudKit connectivity issues that have been occurring since November. Some users of apps that have iCloud support built in are seeing the following message:...
top stories 2022jan22

Top Stories: Spring Apple Event Rumors, Apple Opposes Sideloading, and More

Saturday January 22, 2022 6:00 am PST by
As we roll into the latter half of January, we're starting to hear more about a potential spring Apple event, which is likely to take place in March or April. There are a number of potential announcements on deck, so an event would be a good opportunity for Apple to get them all out there. We've also been going back and forth on some iPhone 14 rumors, and we've taken a look at a number of...