How can I tell if an Apple Watch is fake? I don't want to spend money on a counterfeit watch that won't work properly.
There are lots of telltale signs that any product has not been made by Apple, and the Apple Watch - which has seen more than its fair share of fakes - is no exception.
Start off by checking each element of the product against the photography on a reputable Apple site (such as Macworld UK) or, most obviously, Apple's own website.
(The only reason not to depend entirely on Apple's photography might be if there isn't a photo that shows the particular feature you're unsure about. Apple's aim is to a) make its products look nice and b) illustrate what each design element is for, so there will be occasions when you've spotted what appears to be a misaligned screw or whatever, and all of Apple's related photos are too artfully arranged to get a clear view of what the screw should look like.)
1. If you can, get an Apple Genius to verify the product. This is the most reliable and foolproof method of confirming whether a product is a fake, but clearly it will generally be the most difficult to achieve.
Some of the time you simply won't be able to get the product into an Apple Store - you're stuck at the home or business premises of the person who's selling you the device - and it's also possible that the Apple employee will refuse to help out; after all, you're buying second hand and effectively choosing not to give Apple any revenue. Be charming and they may help out, but keep in mind that they're not obliged to do so.
2. Check Apple's website and scan through the official photography to see if anything looks amiss. (A range of photos can be viewed here, and there's front-on photos of each model here.) Apple is exceptionally careful about the details of its products, and the objects it releases are remarkably consistent in look, feel and build quality.
Giveaway details that could betray a fake Apple Watch
Let's assume you've got the possibly fake Apple Watch in your hand. Here are five things to check before you hand over the money. We can't be certain it's legitimate - it could just be a fantastic counterfeit - but these will rule out 95 percent of fakes.
The official dimensions of the Apple Watch, as detailed on our Apple Watch review, are 38.6 x 33.3 x 10.5mm (for the smaller 38mm model) and 42.0 x 35.9 x 10.5mm (for the 42mm model). This might seem like a simple detail for a counterfeiter to get right, but you'd be surprised: many fakes are thicker than the real thing, because it's so hard to match Apple's engineering capabilities.
If you've got scales, check the weight too. This varies from model to model, ranging from 56g (total - watch plus strap) for the stainless steel 38mm model with classic buckle, to 125g for the stainless steel 42mm model with stainless steel link band. The best source we've seen for all the correct weight figures is robservatory.com.
Check the controls
Depending on which way up you hold the Apple Watch (it can be used left- or right-handed), there will either be a Digital Crown dial on the top of the right-hand edge and a longer and flatter Side Button below it, or a Side Button on the top of the left-hand edge and the Digital Crown below that. These two controls should both be present, and on the same side of the watch, with nothing else on that side: the microphone and speaker openings will be on the other side.
Check the back of the watch
Every model of Apple Watch has a complex pattern of heart rate sensors and spec text on the back - the bit that sits on your wrist. There should be four circular sensors in a diamond pattern: the left and right ones are white, and the top and bottom sensors are slightly darker. (Fake Apple Watches may have differently arranged sensors, or no sensors at all.)
To test this more carefully, activate the heart rate sensor on the watch: swipe upwards and swipe left or right until you get to the Heart Rate glance. Give it a second until it starts measuring, and the left and right sensors will light up in green.
It's also worth checking the text running around the sensors against the picture above, or against Apple's own photography. Check for obvious spelling mistakes, of course, but also make sure that it runs 'Apple Watch' (with logo) > [XX]mm case > 7000 series aluminium > Ion-X Glass (if it's the Sport model, or Sapphire, if not) > Composite back > [serial number].
There should also be a lozenge-shaped strap-release button at the top and bottom of the watch rear. Check these are present, and also that they work. And a small microphone aperture, opposite the Side Button, and two slits for the speaker, opposite the Digital Crown.
Does it come with the right charger?
The Apple Watch comes with a small induction charger pod that it sits in and is attached to magnetically. This plugs via USB into a wall plug which has cool unfolding prongs - unfold the central prong (in the UK configuration) and the other two open up at the same time.
Some fake Apple Watches come with chargers of a different design; others come with chargers that don't work. Try charging the watch - it should snap neatly on to the magnetic charge mat, make a little beep when charging starts, and then display a lightning bolt symbol as it charges.
Power on the watch and try it out
Fakes are most easily identified by their inability to replicate the interface and general user experience of a genuine Apple Watch. Start it up and swipe through a few screens and apps: the touchscreen should respond near-instantaneously to your swipes, and the interfaces and apps should look like this:
If you're not satisfied that it's legit, keep hold of your money.