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iPhone 15 box has a hidden security feature Apple should add to all iPhones and AirPods

Published Sep 22nd, 2023 11:19AM EDT
iPhone 15 models in an Apple retail store.
Image: Apple Inc.

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It’s iPhone 15 day, with millions of iPhone buyers set to receive one of the four new models today. As was the case in previous years, the iPhone 15 models ship inside minimal packaging, with retail boxes that include only USB-C cables in addition to the handset. But the new iPhone 15 boxes apparently have a built-in security feature that I think all iPhone models Apple continues to sell should get.

Apple seems to have placed holograms on the retail box that are only visible under UV light. This security protection should reduce the risk of buyers purchasing clones from the black market. And I hope more Apple products get this hidden security feature, despite some of the immediate problems I see.

There’s no such thing as a super cheap new iPhone

The Apple retail store and Apple’s website are the best places to purchase an iPhone 15 or any other model.

If Apple isn’t present in your country, get an iPhone from an authorized retailer. Do not fall for online scams promising you better prices on new models. The iPhone 15 was just released. It’s too early for meaningful discounts. Even if you’re looking for older iPhones, whether new or second-hand, you should first check with official retailers. 

If you venture into the black market and don’t know what you’re doing, you risk buying an iPhone clone. That’s where Apple’s new iPhone packaging might come in handy.

The iPhone 15’s anti-clone protections

The iPhone 15 retail box’s new security features first appeared in a video that a leaker shared online early on Friday, as the new iPhones started shipping worldwide.

The video below shows a person shining a UV light at a retail box that has holograms on the back near the top and bottom of the package.

The first problem here is that you’ll need a UV light to check iPhone 15 boxes for those markings. The second, even bigger problem is that the new security measure, if legitimate, won’t take long to be replicated by knockoff makers in China.

That’s why Apple would want to protect the iPhone boxes with such security measures. There are plenty of iPhone knockoffs on the black market. If you don’t know what you’re doing when buying used, second-hand iPhones, you risk getting a device that turns out to be an iPhone clone running a version of Android.

How to check if an iPhone is genuine

There are ways to ensure the iPhone is an actual Apple device. You can check the serial number on the box on Apple’s coverage website or with similar third-party sites. The same serial number should be found inside the Settings app, under General and About. It has to match the number on the box.

If you’re buying a used device, ask the owner to log into their Apple ID account to prove it’s an iPhone to prevent using your credentials. If it’s an Android-powered clone, they won’t be able to log in.

Given the widespread issue of iPhone clones, Apple should probably start protecting older iPhone models with similar hidden holograms. If I were Apple, I would also add these protections to AirPods, which are also routinely cloned. Even if Chinese knockoff vendors can quickly adjust and replicate the holograms.

Always check the authenticity of an iPhone regardless of whether or not Apple uses these holograms. And continue doing it even if you’re the one to open a brand new iPhone 15 model bought from the black market.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.