Real or Fake Apple Watch? 8 Ways to Tell the Difference

Although a lot of work has been done to remove counterfeit Apple products from shelves and online stores, fake Apple watches are still easy to come by.


Jesse Sumrak
Updated 11 May 2021
Real or Fake Apple Watch? 8 Ways to Tell the Difference
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United States Counterfeit Goods Statistics


$1.3 billion in counterfeit items seized each year
$200 billion yearly loss to businesses

$959 billion (estimated value of the counterfeit market by 2022)

Source: Library of U.S. Congress

Sections on this page
  1. What Is a Fake Apple Watch?
  2. Where Are Fake Apple Watches Sold?
  3. 8 Ways to Spot a Fake Apple Watch
  4. How to Know If an Apple Watch Listing Is a Scam
  5. What to Do If You Purchased a Fake Apple Watch
  6. Where to Buy a Real Apple Watch
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

Did you find a deal on an Apple Watch that feels like it's too good to be true? Chances are it probably is—you can find fake Apple Watches all over the internet. Scammers are getting better at manufacturing, marketing, listing, and selling these fake watches, making it more challenging to find the real product.

However, counterfeit Apple Watches have a few tell-tale signs that you can look for. Below, we'll walk you step-by-step through how to spot a fake Apple Watch. And if you discover your brand-new Apple Watch isn't legit, we have tips and best practices to resolve the issue.

What Is a Fake Apple Watch?

A fake Apple Watch is a knockoff watch created to mimic Apple's best-selling tech-heavy wearable. Sure, these counterfeits look like the real deal from across the room, but on closer inspection, you'll find that they fall short.

These fake watches do a decent job at replicating the exterior design of real Apple Watches, but they usually have poor software, cheap hardware, and aren't compatible with iOS devices. These fakes tend to crop up in larger quantities shortly before and after a new Apple Watch Series release to attempt to scam those trying to get in on the latest tech early.

Some fakes market themselves as Apple Watch replicas under a different brand name. These usually sell for a lower price, but they overpromise on the technology. Other imitations market themselves as authentic Apple Watches, but they lack the quality and functionality you'd expect from the tech giant.

Where Are Fake Apple Watches Sold?

You can find fake Apple Watches on various e-commerce platforms and marketplaces, including:

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Alibaba
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Craigslist

While fakes exist on these platforms, genuine sellers (and amazing deals) are also there. You don't need to avoid these e-commerce sites altogether—you just need to learn how to spot a fake Apple Watch, so you don't get scammed.

8 Ways to Spot a Fake Apple Watch

Although counterfeiters get better each year in making copies of Apple watches, they never get it perfect. After all, these fakers use cheaper products and don't have the technology (or know-how) to produce them exactly like Apple.

Each fake Apple Watch may have different tell-tale signs, but these are the most common to watch out for.

1. Screen Bezel

Fake Apple Watches have a larger bezel around the screen. This means the actual display is a tinier square beneath the outer glass. On real Apple Watches, the visual display takes up almost the entirety of the glass.

You can see the display area without even turning on the watch—just look for the lighter black square beneath the glass.

Real vs fake Apple Watch screen

2. Removeable Strap

All authentic Apple Watches come with removable straps. Some fakes replicate this design, but if the straps can't be removed, then you can be confident it's a fake.

Straps are universal, too. That means if you take off your watch's straps, it should be able to fit another Apple Watch. If they don't, then it's a fake.

3. Size

One of the tell-tale signs of an authentic Apple Watch is its size. The accomplishment and wonder of an Apple Watch is just how much amazing technology they've packed down into such a slim device. Even fakes (who aren't packing sophisticated technology into their dumbed-down devices) can't dial in the size small enough to truly replicate real Apple Watches.

4. Android Compatibility

Apple Watches cannot connect to an Android device. If a watch can sync with an Android device, then it's a fake.

5. Heart Rate Sensors

Heart-rate sensing technology is one of the more expensive aspects of wearables. Apple Watches have a built-in heart rate monitor on the back of the watch. Fakes will try to replicate the design, but the watch will lack heart-rate functionality.

Look for arrangement variations. Apple Watches use a diamond sensor pattern, while fakes tend to use other shapes.

Real vs fake Apple Watch heart sensor

6. Software

Fake Apple Watches will try to replicate the display format, and some get it closer than others. However, you'll notice a distinct lag with counterfeit watches. They don't have the same high-tech software as a real Apple Watch, which causes their display to move less smoothly.

7. Charger

This is a quick-and-easy test you can perform to tell a fake from an original. Fake watch chargers won't charge an authentic watch, and the inverse is true, too—a real charger won't charge a fake watch.

If you have access to a real charger, connect it to the suspected device. If it connects and begins charging, then it's an authentic watch—if it doesn't, then it's a fake.

8. Packaging

Apple Watch Series 6 comes in a long, thin box with the red apple logo and the word "WATCH" on the front. Fakes tend to come in chunkier, lower-quality packaging. As you can see in the example, the fake is a shorter, wider box with less glossy packaging.

You'll also sometimes notice packaging inconsistencies. For example, you may open the box to find an instruction manual for a different colored variation—that won't happen with the real Apple Watch.

How to Know If an Apple Watch Listing Is a Scam

Now you know how to tell a fake Apple Watch from the real deal—but how about when you see a product listing online? How can you make sure the listing is secure and reliable?

Scams have a lot in common, so there are a few signs you can look for to identify a fake listing:

  • Seller Information: Look for discrepancies in the seller's contact information. If their name and email address don't align, that's usually a red flag.
  • Fake Reviews: Scammers try to boost their listings with social proof. If a product has a load of 5-star reviews, check them to make sure they're authentic.
  • Typos: Authentic sellers usually take the time to double-check their copy for typos and grammar mistakes. Scammers aren't copywriters, so they tend to make simple errors. You can also copy/paste their description listing into a plagiarism checker to see if they lifted it from somewhere else on the internet.
  • Images: Make sure the seller took the images used in the product listing. If they're using photos from Apple's website or listings, then be wary moving forward.
  • Shipping: If shipping estimates are more than a week, there's a good chance that the product is being shipped overseas. This isn't a guarantee it's a fake, but it does increase the chances.

What to Do If You Purchased a Fake Apple Watch

Despite your best efforts, you may accidentally buy a fake Apple Watch. The quicker you take action, the better. However, the recovery steps you'll need to take vary based on where you made the purchase. Here's what to do if you purchased a fake.

First, contact Apple and the authorities:

  • Apple: Apple asks that you report any suspected counterfeit or knockoff products to them immediately.
  • Police Department: Report the scam to the FBI's digital division.

Next, you'll want to contact the specific platform where you purchased the fake:

  • Craigslist: You won't be able to recover your money through Craigslist (you'll have to rely on the police for that), but you'll want to contact the appropriate party to protect yourself and others from future scams.
  • eBay: eBay has a money-back guarantee for all fraudulent and counterfeit items.
  • Amazon: File for an A-to-Z Guarantee to request a refund.

Lastly, you'll want to contact your bank or credit card company. If the transaction hasn't gone through yet, there's a chance you can cancel it—and if it has gone through, then you can request a chargeback.

Where to Buy a Real Apple Watch

There are plenty of local and online stores where you can buy real, authentic Apple Watches. They might not be for an amazing deal (like you saw on eBay), but you can rest assured knowing it's a legitimate product:

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I spot a fake Apple Watch Series 5?

To identify a fake Apple Watch Series 5, look for red flags in the screen size and bezel, charger, packaging, strap, and even how it connects to your phone.

Where is the safest place to buy a real Apple Watch?

You can be sure you'll get a genuine Apple Watch if you buy from Apple directly or from other retailers such as Target and Best Buy.

Are fake Apple Watches good?

Some fake Apple Watches are being sold that look very similar to the real deal. However, they generally won't work as well or do the same things as a genuine Apple Watch. 

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