Apple’s AirPods are very popular, but unfortunately they are also more expensive than other alternatives on the market. In fact, in the Apple Store, AirPods The cheapest costs $ 179, while the AirPods Pro they reach the figure of 279 $.
It’s no wonder that a lot of people are looking for a good deal, and luckily you can often find the popular white headphones much cheaper, as is the case with the AirPods base at $ 126.99, which represents a saving of over $ 50.
But what if you find an even better deal somewhere like Ebay? Can you be sure that the so called new AirPods with their original packaging are genuine?
It is more and more common for offers of this type to end up being a counterfeit product that looks surprisingly like the original, but is obviously not the same or provides a user experience similar to the original.
Counterfeit products are nothing new, but fake AirPods Pro are often found on the most popular sales platforms. The high price and high demand for this product make AirPods Pro ideal for counterfeiters, with a large profit margin.
Our article on MacWorld Germany echoed a post from one of its readers who was misled into thinking he was buying the originals when they really were a cheap copy of the originals.
Packaging and accessories
Although the appearance of the boxes and packaging used by the fake products is generally very similar to the real one, you have to pay attention to the small details to be able to realize that this is a product. false.
The quality of the packaging is sometimes poor, with typographical errors such as “Dseigned by Apple” or translation errors found on the product label.
Another detail is that although it mentions “Compatible with iOS devices, iPadOS, Apple Watch or Mac with the latest software Works with Qi certified chargers”, there was a period missing before “Compatible”.
Below is the picture of the box packaging the German reader received. So definitely it is important to pay attention to all the details and read carefully down to the last comma of what is stated on the box.
Check the serial number
Before unpacking the device, the first step should be to verify the serial number of the product. This can be found on the side of the package and you can check it in the Apple website for confirmation.
Unfortunately, this check wouldn’t always work, as some Apple counterfeiters apparently use serial numbers that Apple recognizes as real. This is why it is sometimes necessary to open the box and do further tests.
Check the accessories
At first glance, most fake devices look perfectly fine, and the accessories are complete. Our test device contains all the usual documents and instructions, plus real-looking AirPods Pro, including the charging dock, power cord, and alternative plugs.
However, the attached instructions would be a big suspicion for some: the print quality of the instructions was moderate and the typology was fuzzy. Very unusual for Apple brochures, but in reality it is still not a test.
The firmware of the device was even stranger. On our device, the firmware is 0A2097, which is an identifier that Apple has never used. This way it would not be possible to update the device at any time.
Are they recognized by an iPhone or a Mac?
The only thing a fake AirPod won’t have is a W1 chip, which is a special chip from Apple. This chip ensures that AirPods are immediately recognized and synced with iPhone, iPad or Mac.
When you open the charging case, a nearby iPhone should immediately recognize and connect to the AirPods. (Excuse the German screenshot, “ Taste gedrückt halten ” translates to “ Press and hold the button ” and “ Taste auf der Rückseite des Ladecase gedrückt halten ” means “ Press and hold the button on the back of the charging case ”).
With the fake product, we saw a window open on our iPhone when we activated our AirPods, but the big difference was that it asked us to press the button on the back of the case.
Only then would the iOS headphones be integrated. If these were original AirPods, this extra keystroke would be skipped during the pairing process.
We also found that due to the lack of a W1 chip, using a Mac mini was unreliable and switching between Mac and iPhone was only possible through the Bluetooth menu. There were also problems recognizing the microphone.
But the most worrying thing is that even then the iPhone assumed that we had placed the AirPods Pro in front of it and showed the usual operating instructions. And when we “ clicked ” on the info symbol next to the Bluetooth list, AirPods preferences opened.
The most reliable test is the functionality check. The problem is, depending on the quality of the counterfeit, sometimes the devices support more and sometimes less functions.
For example, we were able to perform the ear fit test on our dummy device. However, not all was what it seemed: the test was still successful. Even when we only used one of the headphones, the optimal fit of both headphones was certified.
However, one of the more complex features of the Pro models is active noise cancellation, which relies on the high-quality microphones of the AirPods. To our surprise, we were able to activate this feature and also activate the “Transparency” mode.
However, as we quickly found out, we couldn’t hear the slightest difference with the noise cancellation on and off – an obvious disappointment.
Unfortunately, this test does not always work.
Some victims of fake AirPods have reported noise cancellation in operation, apparently there are fake ones with real microphones. In general, counterfeiters seem to save money on microphones.
In our test, the fake AirPods provided weird sound quality – these headphones weren’t even suitable for taking phone calls. The audio quality was also very poor and not at the level of a current Bluetooth headset.
Counterfeiters also install shoddy components, so it’s no wonder the new 3D audio feature doesn’t even appear and wireless charging doesn’t work either, as seems obvious.
So, these fakes are not valid even as a second device due to their poor quality. In this way, they will only be used for their return or to be thrown directly into the trash.
A look inside
There are more clues that they are wrong: we quickly noticed a few processing flaws. For example, the small plastic cover on the outside suddenly fell off after a few minutes of use.
The cap at the bottom of the “stems” was also relatively easy to remove to reveal the interior. According to iFixit, we should actually find a small, high-quality mic here.
Instead, we see a printed circuit board labeled dxc-t18U8, and no microphone, which explains the lack of a recording option. These FakePods don’t have microphones and instead use the speaker as a microphone, which basically works, but explains the horrible quality.
How to get a refund
But what should you do if you have identified your new helmet as a fake? If the online store or Ebay seller is still active, a return or refund should be attempted.
Sellers can usually be persuaded to refund their price or make purchases. If the buyer only notices the counterfeit after the return time has expired, it becomes a little more difficult.
However, in most cases this is an obvious defect that the seller needs to repair. A complaint is also possible, but you shouldn’t wait too long here. As an alternative, consider the notification to Apple itself.
Our final tip is that with these offers, you should forgo payment options without buyer protection, such as paying in cash. The other option is to go for reasonably priced deals and never a bargain. View our summary of where to buy AirPods at the best price.