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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.jpg

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.


Article Link: Apple Begins Transition to Randomized Serial Numbers With Purple iPhone 12
 
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jav6454

macrumors P6
Nov 14, 2007
17,039
2,097
1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
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?
Perhaps Apple wanted to make it more difficult to identify devices that have software or hardware gaps. Back in the iPhone 3G and 1st Gen, certain week number (and before) iPhones could be completely owned from the hardware level.

This meant people actively looked for these devices. I assume certain bugs are also present now a days and Apple wants to obscure this. Also, wants to keep tighter secrecy into their reasoning.
 
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Populus

macrumors 68000
Aug 24, 2012
1,874
2,080
Valencia, Spain.
The AirTags don’t have that randomized serial number because they are probably manufactured much earlier. Remember, some boxes had the year 2019 or 2020 on them.

I’m ok with this change, as long as they include the manufacturing date, just like they already do in products such as the Smartkeyboard Folio, the Magic Mouse, or the Magic Trackpad accessories.
 
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thadoggfather

macrumors G5
Oct 1, 2007
13,353
11,612
I wonder what the implications were of having identifiable SN's prior to now.

outside of identifying the OS version loaded on it from build date, I think it was a total goose chase all along.
 
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Freeangel1

macrumors 6502a
Jan 13, 2020
593
702
O boy. Purple.
Samsung has a hidden under glass camera! that is BIG news.

 
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no_idea

macrumors regular
Sep 20, 2018
124
230
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?
As a database developer, maintaining smart numbers is always a pain especially when u need to migrate from one system to another. They probably did this to get rid of the technical debt with legacy code maintaining smart numbers.
 
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Cosmosent

macrumors 68000
Apr 20, 2016
1,849
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Hey Cook, go look at the Lakers' purple !

That's what purple should look like !

Hey Cook, if AAPL has gone that route, I'd bet a good % of Lakers fans would immediately upgrade to that !
 
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pgiguere1

macrumors 68020
May 28, 2009
2,159
1,105
Montreal, Canada
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.
 
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DanTheMan827

macrumors regular
May 9, 2012
119
112
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?
The serial number has information about the plant, date, and so on that the device was manufactured on.

Why exactly they want to hide this from the public I'm not so sure...
 
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foobarbaz

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2007
610
813
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.
… by your definition. ;)
Series means one comes after the other, it doesn't mean it has to be "one higher" than the previous one.

Here's a bunch of examples:
 
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Graphikos

macrumors member
Oct 26, 2007
78
242
So what would you call it?
It's more just a unique identifier. An identifier that can be looked up in an Apple-controlled database to view all the details of the device. Internally it's a serial number, to Apple, but just an identifier to the rest of the world. Still works for tools to say look up your "serial number" for repairs, recalls, etc.

I doubt it's encrypted data.
 
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