Apple to switch to random serial numbers in early 2021

Apple will soon change the way Mac and MacBooks serial numbers are created, with a switch to random numbers in early 2021, making it difficult to find details about a device.

Currently, the serial number for Apple products uses a format that can provide more information about the device. The existing string can be used to determine when and where a device was produced, as well as configuration codes that reveal the model and storage capacity of the device.

In a change to that structure, Apple will switch to a new serial number format consisting of a random alphanumeric string between 8 and 14 characters in length. AppleCare internal email seen by MacRumors explains that it will be scheduled for introduction in “early 2021” and will initially use 10-digit long serial numbers.

The introduction was originally scheduled for early 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced Apple to delay its rollout for a year. Currently shipping Apple products will continue to use the existing format, but future products will switch to the new version.

The change of format will effectively make it impossible to highlight details of the manufacturing location and the week and year of production, details that can be determined with the current system.

Other unique identifiers, such as the IMEI number of an iPhone, will remain unchanged in its current format.


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