Starting with the 5G Purple iPhone 12, Apple changes how it records each device it makes
Starting with the just released purple Apple iPhone 12 model, Apple is making a change to the way it designates serial numbers for its handsets in a number of countries. Previously, an iPhone serial number contained 12 characters that provided coded data showing when and where a device was produced along with some other information. Now, Apple is switching to a series of 10 randomly selected characters to produce an iPhone serial number.
This change was supposed to take place last year, but the pandemic caused Apple to delay the change to this year. While the expectations are for Apple to use the new system across most of its product line, the recently released AirTag item trackers continue to use the previously employed 12 character system. The older serial numbers used the first three characters to indicate where a product was manufactured with the next two revealing the year and week of manufacture, followed by four characters that indicated the model, color, and storage of a device.
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Here is where you can find the serial number on your iPhone
While the initial change replaces the older system with 10 random characters, according to a memo that MacRumors was able to obtain earlier this year, eventually the new serial numbers will be made up of 8-14 random alphanumeric characters that will no longer contain coded information about an Apple device including details pertaining to its manufacture (where, when) and configuration options (color and storage).
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To view the serial number on your iOS 14 powered iPhone, go to Settings > General > About.