Model Number vs Serial Number, What’s the difference?

Categories: News & Resources

What’s the difference between a model number and a serial number? Manufacturers use these two identifications to label their products from broad to granular. A model number refers to all of a single product. For example, all 32GB SanDisk Extreme SD cards of the same generation have the same model number. A serial number references a single, specific product. So, there can be hundreds or even thousands of the same model number made. But, there is a serial number to identify each unit specifically.

When it comes to purchasing products, it’s important to pay attention to the details of the item you’re buying. One of the most important details to take note of are the model number and the serial number.

What is a model number?

A model number, or product number, is a unique identifier that distinguishes a specific product from others of the same type. Over time, there have been several iterations of the 32GB SanDisk Extreme. Giving each iteration a new model number helps identify the generations. A model number typically includes a combination of letters and numbers that refer to specific features and characteristics of the product. For example, a memory card’s model number will indicate the card type, storage size, region, speed, and generation. All of this can come from a short string of characters.

Model Number Serial Number
Model Number Serial Number
Two cards with the same Model Number appear identical.
Two cards with the same Model Number

What is a serial number?

On the other hand, a serial number is a unique code that identifies a specific product within a particular production batch. A serial number is not always as easily “decrypted” as a model number. It is usually a combination of letters and numbers that is specific to that particular unit. Serial numbers are used for quality control purposes, and they help to track a product’s origin, production date, and other important information. For example, a memory card’s serial number can identify it within a production batch in the event of a contamination. Because the same model number can be made across months or years at a time, a serial number is put on the unit itself.

2 identical SD Cards with the same model number.
2 SD Cards of the same Model
The same 2 SD Cards flipped over, revealing 2 different serial numbers.
The same 2 SD Cards flipped over, different Serial Numbers.

Practical Application

While both numbers are important for identifying a product, they serve different purposes. Knowing the model number can help you identify the features and specifications of a product, while the serial number can help you track its history and origin. In most scenarios, you’ll only need to know the model number. Rarely is it essential to have both pieces of information on hand when purchasing a product. If you have an issue that requires customer service, you will likely need your serial number at the ready.

This is a breakdown diagram of roughly how to interpret a model number.

SanDisk doesn’t release their numbering strategy so keep in mind this is just a guess from what we’ve observed. Additionally, it only applies to SanDisk products. Different manufacturers will use different strategies and character counts.

Richard Garrish

In conclusion, understanding the difference between a model number and a serial number is essential when purchasing products. Paying attention to both details will help you identify the right product and track its history, making it easier to make informed decisions and receive proper customer support.