How to Check if iPhone is New, Refurbished, or Replacement

Jan 27, 2018 - 25 Comments

How to Check if iPhone is new or refurbished

If you’re buying a used iPhone or repairing an iPhone, you may wonder if you can find out if the iPhone was bought as new, is a refurbished model, or is a replacement device provided by Apple via a service request.

Wonder no more, you can use an interesting device model identifier trick to discover if an iPhone is new, refurbished, a replacement, or even personalized by engraving. This can be helpful information for buyers of used devices, if you’ve received a device as a gift or hand-me-down, if you’re troubleshooting or repairing an iPhone, and more.

How to Determine if iPhone is New, Refurbished, Replacement, or Personalized

You can decipher the device model prefix to determine the original status of an iPhone (and probably an iPad too) device, here’s how:

  1. Open the “Settings” app on the iPhone
  2. Go to “General” and then go to “About”
  3. Look for “Model” and then read the model identifier next to that text, it will look something like “MN572LL/A”, the first character will let you know if the device is new, refurbished, replacement, or personalized:
    • M – Brand new device, meaning the device was purchased new
    • F – Refurbished device, meaning the device has been through refurbishing process
    • N – Replacement device, meaning the originally bought device was replaced by this model likely due to a service request
    • P – Personalized device with engraving, meaning the device was customized with an engraving on purchase

    How to check if iPhone is new or refurbished

That’s all there is to it, now you know how to determine if an iPhone is new, referred, replaced, or other. It’s possible there are some other identifier prefixes for iPhone devices that aren’t listed here, if you know of any do share them in the comments.

I have tested this with a handful of my own iPhone devices that I know are either new, refurbished, or replacements, and it has held up. I haven’t personally seen the “P” identifier however.

By the way, it’s important to note the model identifier shown here (like MN572LL/A) is different from the general model (like iPhone X) and model number of the iOS device (like A1822) – admittedly a bit confusing since they all have similar labels, but they are indeed entirely different things.

You can use similar tricks to sort out some details about iPhone devices by retrieving the iOS device serial number and then reading it too.

Thanks to a helpful post on the Apple Discussion forums for this neat little trick.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

25 Comments

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  1. Jane Carter says:

    You can also check if a phone you find is stolen or not. https://stolenphonechecker.org/spc/consumer

  2. Pat says:

    My iPad has ingraving which is termed personalized, but had the model identifier “M”. According to the article it should be “P” instead of M.

  3. be says:

    If your Part Number starts with 3A it was a Demo Unit from a Store

  4. Peter says:

    I have the same comment as Pat. My iPad is engraved, but is marked M.

  5. yes way says:

    That wasn’t informative. (Said in no way’s Whitney pitch)

    It was actually very informative, never knew this about iDevices. More great intel from OSX Daily. The last site for actual MacOS and iOS knowledge without all the fluff. Thanks for a great website.

  6. Bev in TX says:

    Is there a way to tell whether a replacement is new or refurbished?

  7. Sebastian says:

    Rubbish. I’ve looked on my old iphone which was purchased ‘’almost new’’ from Vodafone and has the initial M like brand new. It wasn’t brand new for sure because of the faults it had. At least I’ve paid the right price for it.

    • RMR says:

      I would suggest any phone sent back to apple for any reason is going to have the appropriate code. If the phone was a simple return to Vodaphone, and never sent to Apple, they are going to flip it and thus no M.

  8. James says:

    Seems questionable.

    How does the iPhone’s firmware know to update itself if someone replaces a cracked screen?

    How does the phone’s firmware know to update itself if someone sells their iPhone.

    I may be that the person in an Apple store performs a tweak on the iPhone appropriately, but if I were to sell my iPhone to someone else, how would that be recorded?

  9. Samuel Creel says:

    Not true. Got a replacement today. It has an M for new.

    • RTFM says:

      Samuel, it is true that M is a new device.

      In fact, the article specifically says the following, that M is a new device:

      “M – Brand new device, meaning the device was purchased new”

      Here is the article that you can read to learn about the refurbished, new, replacement devices:

      http://osxdaily.com/2018/01/27/determine-iphone-new-refurbished-replaced/

      As for your replacement, you were given a new device. OK. Great job. That means someone at the Apple store gave you a new iPhone as the replacement rather than go through the standard replacement process due to service request, maybe as even refurb or repaired.

  10. Haizat says:

    How to know if u bought it second hand n the guy got change the spare part inside? The first character will change?

  11. Francisco says:

    Ive got a few questions: If I get a replacement with the N it means it was refurbished then? Or there is some difference between N and F devices?

  12. Rainer says:

    I have the same question Francisco was asking. I got an replacement ioad pro directly from Apple with Modelnumber NPL… Is it a new device that came with a different packaging or is it a used and refurbished one? Thanks in advance!

  13. abegail says:

    How about ME336J/A? is that original or fake or what?

  14. Rachel Martin says:

    If you want to buy refurbished phone, you should check

  15. Sajad Hassan says:

    Is this serial number system the same for the airpods?

  16. azam says:

    my iphone storage is 64gb but when i check its original specs was 16gb. how this can happened?

  17. Azmu says:

    If the phone model starts with 3DLLA is that refurbished or not ?

  18. cocopots says:

    rubbish. anyone can refurbish an iphone and the letters wont change..

    • Fools says:

      cocopots you aren’t really familiar with any technical topics and that is clear, so here’s an explainer since you didn’t read the article or understand what any of this means: factory refurbishing is handled by Apple, it involves refurbishing an iphone returned to them for any reason, perhaps even changing components. That is different from some ‘anyone’ rubbing an iPhone with a damp rag and then erasing it to sell it to you on ebay or craigslist. Grok that? Probably not.

  19. MrMojo says:

    F for refurbished can also mean 2 things:

    1. Used
    – Device was used, internal workings checked and cleaned up with new battery, new casing and OS reset AND the Cellular LIFETIME call time is RESET to ZERO!

    2. Refurbished
    – Device was ‘more’ used, internal workings checked and cleaned up with new battery, new casing and OS reset BUT the Cellular LIFETIME call time was NOT RESET so LIFETIME call time remains from past owner.

    You won’t know which one you’ll get if you buy the Refurbished version even if it’s bought directly from Apple.com.

    Obviously, the ‘better’ version is (1) when it’s ‘used’ than completely refurbished.

    Found that out when I bought my iPhone 6S Plus from Apple.com!

    Refurb models can be sold directly at Apple.com or by resellers, the latter of which you need to be very cautious as you don’t know if the devices were tampered with by the resellers.

    Good news is that you can still buy the iPhone Applecare for Refurbed iPhones.

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