Counterfeit Apple products are a real problem. Earlier this year we saw US officials seize over a thousand fake AirPods and Apple Watches. And Apple has a dedicated team for dealing with illegal knockoffs. While good counterfeits may look very convincing from the outside, an X-ray comparison reveals all the differences between real AirPods and fakes.
Jon Bruner at Lumafield shared the new CT scan comparison of authentic AirPods Pro vs two pairs of counterfeits (along with some MacBook chargers) on social media, the company’s blog, and in a YouTube video.
Shown above, the real AirPods Pro (2nd gen) is on the left with the knockoffs in the middle and on the right.
Here are the 3 main differences the X-rays revealed between the real headphones and fakes:
- Build quality
When it comes to batteries, Bruner says:
The authentic AirPods house meticulously-engineered button cell batteries in each earbud, designed to fit snugly within the compact form factor and provide optimal power efficiently. In contrast, both specimens of counterfeit AirPods contain lithium-ion pouch cell batteries that are not only less sophisticated in their construction but also potentially less safe. The rectangular pouches are crammed into circular spaces rather than tailored to fit.
For circuitry, the X-rays reveal the real AirPods are “a marvel of miniaturization and precision engineering.”
That’s thanks to “a combination of rigid and flexible printed circuit boards to pack components densely and ensure that every millimeter of space is used effectively.”
On the other hand, the counterfeit AirPods reveal much simpler electronics cobbled together from off-the-shelf components. That leaves less room for functionality; the counterfeits have fewer microphones and less control circuitry, compromising their sound quality.
Finally, for build quality, Lumafield called the differences it observed “dramatic.”
One of the fakes doesn’t offer wireless charging at all (no coils are visible in the scans), and the other one has wireless charging coils but lacks the magnets that snap the real AirPods case onto Apple’s Watch charger. The counterfeit AirPods even resort to using internal weights with no other function than to mimic the heft of the genuine product, a deceptive tactic for making them feel heavier to compensate for poorer materials and less functionality. These fakes may replicate the visual cues of the original, but the use of substandard materials not only affects the tactile experience but also compromises the structural integrity and overall lifespan of the product.
Jon Bruner also did a video with Adam Savage to look at the fake and real AirPods and also some Apple chargers after getting all the X-rays.
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