What do the symbols on the back of the iPhone mean?

On December 21, 2010

When you flip over your iPhone, one of the things you probably notice is the collection of weird symbols at the bottom. Already thrown off by the model number and alphanumeric sequences, your eyes are greeted by something that looks af if it might be from an ancient Egyptian pyramid instead of a very modern device. When querying my colleagues for the meaning of these drawings, I found no-one actually really knew. Something with regulations was the most prevalent answer.

So let’s explore the dark backside of your iPhone!

The first symbol we run into is a logo used by the FCC to indicate that this device was FCC approved. If you look closely, you’ll see it’s an F with a C attached and a C within the C. The FCC is the US Federal Communications Commission. The FCC is involved in everything domestic having to do with electronic communication as well as some international communications. The iPhone is of course not only a phone, but also uses WIFI and Bluetooth, as well as GPS. All those protocols are governed, inside the US at least by the FCC and this is why the iPhone has to be approved by them in order to allow Apple to sell them on US soil.

When a device has been approved it receives a code which can be checked in the FCC database online. The actual FCC ID is on the back of your device as well, right above the symbols! If you want to check on your device, check here.

Next to the FCC logo is a thrash can with a cross through it; this is meant for the batteries in the iPhone. You are not supposed to throw the device or it’s batteries into the regular garbage, but you need to go to a special disposal unit. We’ll see in 10 years if people actually listened to this!

The CE symbol is called the CE mark. The letters CE have no meaning (anymore), but the CE mark stands for consumer safety within the European Union. Industrial goods must contain this marking which indicates that it is complying with EU rules for health & safety set out for consumers. The number behind the CE marking indicates the class of product the mark is on. In the case of your iPhone, this will be 0682 which means it’s a communication device and corresponds with the regulations set out for selling such a device within the EU. The circle with the exclamation point belongs to the mark as well and is called the CE alert mark, again indicating this device can be safely used by EU citizens.

That was it; mystery unraveled! Now you know your iPhone from the back as well as the front!

But wait; there is more. Besides the FCC ID, we missed the text over the symbols. First there is the model. This is an Apple indication for your model and in fact the EMC number goes with the model. For iPhone 4, this is Model A1332 (EMC 380A). After that comes the FCC ID we talked about previously, and the last series of characters is the IC ID. This ID is to comply to Canadian regulations and the code in fact ends in the same alphanumeric characters as the FCC ID.

I hope you know more about your phone now; if you found anymore secrets in or on our phone, don’t hesitate to ask us what they mean!