Notification Center

This is our new notification center. Inside, you will find updates on the most important things happening right now.

Notifications

Hmm, push notifications seem to be disabled in your browser. You can enable them from the 'Settings' icon in the URL bar of your browser.

www.phonearena.com

Real AirPods Pro vs fake AirPods Pro: differences, how to spot them, quality comparison

3
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase from the links on this page.
Real AirPods Pro vs fake AirPods Pro: differences, how to spot them, quality comparison
In the golden age of the Internet, we have a lot of good things and a low of bad things. For one, products are much more easily accessible — even in a state of global lockdowns, you can just go online and order virtually anything you need. But then, you have the everyday scammers looking to make a quick buck by selling you an inferior replica of what you actually wanted.

Thankfully, the Internet also gives us access to the knowledge of what to look for when shopping. And this is what we are going to do here — learn how to tell if AirPods Pro are fake or not.

To provide this scientific experiment, we put a pair of TWS i500 Pro in the ears of author Press, as punishment for not being good enough in 2020.

To be fair, you won’t find TWS i500 listed as AirPods Pro in any reputable website. However, if you often browse Craigslist, Ebay user ads, or anything similar, someone might very well try to peddle these as genuine AirPods. How do you tell fake AirPods Pro from real AirPods Pro?

Well, here’s what we’ve found

Jump to section:


Front of case
Back of case
Bottom of case
Flap
Fake AirPods pair to iPhone
Serial number
Real vs fake AirPods Pro buds
Real vs fake AirPods Pro sound quality
Cheap AirPods Pro alternatives you should buy instead

How to spot fake AirPods Pro


With Internet trading, you very often have only pictures to go on. And, while some couriers will let you inspect a product before officially accepting the shipment, it’s best to just avoid the whole headache of refunds and wasted time early on.

Take a good look at the photos and — if needed — request more from the seller. If the seller seems unwilling to provide quality closeups that weren’t taken with a potato camera, there’s your first red flag.

Front of the case


While the shape and the flap contours are usually spot on, there’s a small detail on the front of AirPods cases that copycats have a hard time replicating. That’s the LED light and — more specifically — its opening.

On a genuine AirPods Pro case, the LED light is absolutely flush with the case. The LED is covered by a thin layer of transparent plastic, so there’s no visible hole in the front of the case. On fake AirPods Pro cases, there’s usually a pinhole in that spot instead. It can be easily detected if the lighting in the photo is hitting the case from the side.
Left case - fake AirPods Pro, right case - real AirPods Pro

Furthermore, when you open up the case and the LED lights up, on the original AirPods case, you will see a very focused, contained light. On cheap-o copycat products, the LED light will bleed into the case plastic since it’s… well, cheaper.

Back of the case


There are three things to look for here. One, study the hinge — these will usually look a bit off on counterfeit AirPods Pro cases. The metal hinge as a whole needs to be completely flat and all of its joints are supposed to be spaced evenly.

Don’t be disheartened if the joint lines don’t align perfectly with the lines of the flap — as you can see, this isn’t a perfect match even on our original AirPods Pro case.
Left case - fake AirPods Pro, right case - real AirPods Pro

Secondly, look for the text “Designed by Apple in California, Assembled in China”. Some counterfeits will not have that and ones that try to reproduce it will typically have it on the wrong spot — slightly lower or higher than it needs to be. You will need a nice photo of an original AirPods Pro case to compare against, so here you go:
Proper text positioning on original AirPods Case

Third, you can try your best to spot any evidence of low-quality work around the button that’s back there. Admittedly, this will be very, very hard to look for in a photo, but know this — the AirPods Pro button is completely flush with the rest of the case and there’s no actual space between the button and the plastic. It fits the circle opening perfectly. Fake AirPods Pros usually have a slightly wobbly button surrounded by some slight curvature where the plastic was cut and processed to fit.


Bottom of the case


Fun fact: fake AirPods actually come with fake Lightning ports as well! They will outfit you with a USB-to-Lightning cable in the case, too. The fakes can be charged by the fake cable or genuine Apple cables. On the flip side, the fake cable will not be accepted by genuine Apple devices.


But, when you look at the bottom of the AirPods Pro case, you can see that the Lightning port has been installed there very snug. The metal ring sticks out of the case ever so slightly, but there’s no visible hole or ring in the plastic. It’s like the port has been hammered in there.
Left case - fake AirPods Pro, right case - real AirPods Pro

On the fake AirPods Pro case, the port looks like it has been “sunk in” the plastic a bit. Also — the metal collar that’s at the very top of the Lightning port goes pretty deep on the original product. The fake Lightning port’s collar is mostly just a metal ring and — if you look inside the port — you will see plastic very early on.


Opening the flap


Ever since the original AirPods, everyone is just obsessed with their nice, clicky flap. It opens decisively and stays open. It closes with a satisfying click.

Fake AirPods cases usually have a very loose flap, which you can wiggle around even when it’s closed. When you open it up — it might not even stay open, with its springs gently pushing it back into the closed position.


Fake AirPods Pro can pair with your iPhone


Don’t be fooled if your iPhone recognizes them as AirPods as soon as you open the flap! As we’ve found out, even these TWS i500 Pro earphones will tell the iPhone that they are AirPods Pro and start the pairing process. Crazy, eh?


Fun fact, even though I paired the TWS i500 Pro to my iPhone with no issue, the phone itself refused to play any media — it just crashes. Everything from Apple Music to YouTube would just freeze when I pressed play. I managed to get them to work somehow, just to get a taste of that sweet, sweet sound quality. Yes, I am being sarcastic.

There should be no extra lights


As you can see in our case here — the TWS i500 Pros proudly flaunt their Bluetooth connectivity by having lights installed in the earbuds themselves. They glow red and blue to signal when they are paired. Needless to say, there’s no such light show on any of Apple’s AirPods models.


So, if you open a case of AirPods Pro for sale and you see them glowing on the inside, just pass.

Look for a serial number

Left case - fake AirPods Pro, right case - real AirPods Pro

All AirPods have a serial number printed on the inside of the case flap. This serial number can be ran through Apple's system here to check if it’s a genuine Apple product. A fake will probably not have the serial number in there at all, and if there is one in there — it should show a mistake on the Apple website.

Inspecting the AirPods Pro


Each of the AirPods Pro has a pair of black stripes, housing a metal grille — these are there either for microphones or acoustic relief. In any case, on the genuine AirPods Pro, the metal grille’s black color is matched very well with the black stripe that surrounds it, basically blending them together. On fake AirPods, the grille is usually a lighter shade of black and is easy to spot.
Left - fake AirPods Pro, right - real AirPods Pro

Actually, looking closely at the grilles of the TWS i500 Pros, it looks like they are just cosmetic paint on there with no purpose. Which would make sense, since they don’t offer active noise cancellation.

Also, look for the optical sensors on the bottom of the AirPods Pro earbuds — these are used to “tell” the earbuds when they are in your ear. In our case, the TWS i500 Pros didn’t even have such equipped (since, you know, they drive the cost up).
Left - fake AirPods Pro, right - real AirPods Pro

Do fake AirPods Pro sound as good as the originals?


Oh, no. No, no.

I’ve already written an entire piece on comparing a set of genuine AirPods with a pair of copycats. And nothing has changed, really.


The fakes sound middy, tinny, and — I’m pretty sure — offensive. Expect no bottom end and no sparkle in the highs. In fact, expect very little clarity. They don’t offer perks like active noise cancellation, of course, and I just couldn’t get them to fit — they roll straight out of my ears. Granted, my ears aren't very accommodating to most buds out there, but at least the real AirPods Pros actually manage to stay in.

Also, they don't really work with the latest iOS. As I stated earlier — the thing just crashes, probably because Apple has it running some authenticity checks in the background. Ironically, these would've worked fine if they didn't try to imitate the AirPods connectivity. But nooo, they try to "lie" to the iPhone that they are real AirPods Pro and they even have menu options for noise cancelling and transparency (features, which they do not support)! So, the iPhone goes haywire.

They will probably work fine on Android, but again — why do this to yourself?


I know it’s pretty impressive to have a pair of wireless earphones complete with a charging case at a price point of about $25. And there is absolutely no shame in looking for a budget option. But, trust me, save up the extra buck and try one of these instead:

OnePlus Buds

$59
$79
Buy at OnePlus

OnePlus Buds Z

$49 99
Buy at OnePlus

OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z

$29 95
$49 95
Buy at OnePlus

AUKEY True Wireless Earbuds

Buy at Amazon

JBL Duet Mini 2

Buy at Amazon

JBL Reflect Mini 2

Buy at Amazon



New reasons to get excited every week

Get the most important news, reviews and deals in mobile tech delivered straight to your inbox

FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless