I want to make sure that the replacement iPhone I am being given is new, not refurbished.

Given the serial number, is there any way to tell if an iPhone is new or has been refurbished?

  • 2
    This is incredibly subjective. There is absolutely no way to find out if its a new iPhone or not.
    – jrg
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 21:52
  • Why not ask the person replacing your phone?
    – bmike
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 23:21
  • @bmike because Apple "geniuses" are stupid and they are liars for the most part. I have been told before that I am getting a brand "new" product, only later to find out it was a refurb.
    – antonpug
    Commented Sep 18, 2012 at 16:46
  • You can call / email Apple support and they will tell you. Apple certified refurbished iDevices are given a new serial number, so they can indeed tell you if a device is new or refurbished.
    – Sam
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 22:43

4 Answers 4


I don't think you can do it with the serial number, but if you were given a replacement in a box that looked like the original packaging, then it's new. Else it is a refurb — at least, that has been my experience with Apple so far. This thread also supports that:

If the replacement was from a black box (with the iPhone pictured on it), that's a new one. If you need to have your phone replaced in the first 14 days, it should be done as a retail swap. After that, for warranty replacements, you'll be given a refurb (assuming they are available, they take a while to get into the pipeline). Generally, replacement iPhones are packaged in plain white boxes with no accessories. New ones can be packaged like that too, for Genius Bar replacements, but after the phone has been out a while they will mostly be refurb units.

So in short, if you're looking at replacing an iPhone just a few weeks or a couple of months after release, then it's most probably a new stock. If it's been a while since the model released, then it's most probably a refurbished phone.


There is no reliable way to figure it out.

It is entirely possible (not likely, but possible) that you could be getting a refurbished device, but it is more probable that its a brand-new device.

However, as I stated above, it is entirely possible that someone could have gotten a device less than a week old, returned it and it got a turn around.

Also, what you can do is look at the box when you do get it:

If its in the original packaging (e.g, black box with the iPhone on it), its new.

However, if its a plain white box, its a replacement. Replacements are traditionally packaged without any extras, although I did get earbuds and a sync cable in the one replacement device (iPod touch) I had to get from Apple.


Go to Setting>General>About>SerialNumber. if it start with:

  • M - Retail Unit(Standard)
  • N - Replacement Unit (Can be refurbished)
  • F - Refurbished Unit
  • P - Personalized Unit (Standard but customized)
  • Are you sure? My iPhone 6s has a serial number starting with an F. I bought it as new via my phone company (in Norway) in October 2015. I doubt that there were many refurbished 6s phones then. In any case, it came in what looked like the original packaging. Looking further back, my 4s purchased in November 2011 had a serial number starting with D, and on my 3gs (August 2009) it did not even start with a letter. Perhaps the convention you state is valid for newer phones, though. Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 8:52
  • On second thought, it is possible that my 6s changed its serial number from M… to F… when I had the battery replaced early in 2017. I have the F number in my personal database, but it is conceivable that I edited that after getting the phone back after the battery replacement – and I have no access to the edit history. I tried going back to the original invoice to check it, but it only lists the IMEI as the “serial number”. So you could be right after all – but only for phones newer than the 4s, at best. Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 9:01

Yes, there is a way: if the starting four digits of serial numbers are continuously letters or numbers, then that is a refurbished device.

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