Each and every iPhone (in fact most products) manufactured, sold or yet to be sold, has a serial number printed on the box and implanted on the chip of iPhone, which can be viewed from Settings app -> General -> About. The serial number does contain some information about the type, color, the year and weak of production or manufacturing of the iPhone and more.
Here’s how to decode the hardware information of the iPhone from the serial number. Note that serial number should not be confused with IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) which is unique identifier for GSM, WCDMA, and iDEN mobile phones. Serial number of iPhone can be changed by Apple, especially when during refurbishing.
Typically, the serial number of iPhone is in the following format:
For example, 88025xxxA4T, where the serial information can be decoded as following:
AA = Factory and Machine ID
B = Year of Manufacturing (9 is 2009/2019, 0 is 2010/2020, 1 is 2011 and so on)
CC = Production Week (01 is week 1 of B, 11 is week 11 of B and so on)
DDD = Unique Identifier
EE = Color (A4=black)
F = size (S=16GB, T=32GB)
The factory code does indicates which factory produces the smartphone, and as almost all iPhone is manufactured in China, most if not all factories are located in China. There is no leaked mapping information that identifies which factories or plants to the possible factory and machine ID, such as 6Q, 79, 7R, 7S, 7T, 7U, 7V, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88 and more, but users can know if the two iPhones are from the same plant.
While the last 3 digits of iPhone serial number are indicative of color and size, the 3-digit should be read together to determine which generation, size and color of iPhone. Here’s the list of possible iPhone models:
VR0 (iPhone 2G Silver 4GB)
WH8 (iPhone 2G Silver 8GB)
0KH (iPhone 2G Silver 16GB)
Y7H (iPhone 3G Black 8GB)
Y7K (iPhone 3G Black 16GB)
3NP (iPhone 3GS Black 16GB)
3NR (iPhone 3GS Black 32GB)
3NQ (iPhone 3Gs White 16GB)
3NS (iPhone 3Gs White 32GB)
A4S (iPhone 4 Black 16GB)
A4T (iPhone 4 Black 32GB)
One interesting first two digits of iPhone serial number that stands out is 5K, which has been widely believed to be indicating a refurbished iPhone (reconditioned iPhone). You won’t get a new iPhone with serial number which starts with 5K. The “5K” refurbished iPhone will only be given if you send in your iPhone for repair or exchange and get a replacement iPhone. However, depending on your luck, especially during the initial launch of new iPhone model, you may or may not get an iPhone with “5K” serial number as replacement though.