5 Easy Ways to Spot a Counterfeit 18650 Battery

spot counterfeit 18650 battery
spot counterfeit 18650 battery

18650 high drain batteries were introduced to deal with the high wattages of today’s variable wattage vape MODs in the safest, most efficient way possible. High wattage or low resistance builds will require a high drain battery rated at the appropriate amperage, in order to prevent short circuits or other safety hazards. The high drain 18650 vape batteries have been proved to be very efficient and safe for vaping, and other industries have begun taking advantage of them too – including popular electric supercar manufacturers.

What You Need To Know About Battery Labels

The battery labels are dotted with numbers and letters that are extremely important. But if you do not know much about battery chemistry, this little information can be confusing at first. Here is a short glossary of the terms of the battery that you should familiarize yourself with.

  • I: lithium-ion battery
  • M: The positive ion is manganese
  • C: The positive ion is cobalt
  • N: The positive ion is nickel
  • F: The positive ion is iron
  • R: The shape is round
  • Q: The shape is flat

18650: The battery is 65mm high and 18mm in diameter. Most 18650 batteries produce 3.7V and the chargers turn off automatically when the battery reaches 4.2V.


  • INR 18650: means a lithium ion battery with positive nickel ions, round in shape and measures 65mm x 18mm.
  • IMR 18650 2500mAh 3.6V: means that it is a lithium-ion battery with a positive manganese ion, round shape, capacity of 2500mAh, rated voltage of 3.6 V and dimensions is 65mm x 18mm.

What You Should Consider to Buy a Vape Battery?

Choose a 18650 battery for your mods, below 5 important features should be considered:

  • Safety first
  • High capacity (mAh)
  • High rated current (amperage)
  • High voltage during vaping
  • Low operating temperature

5 Easy Ways to Spot a Counterfeit 18650 Battery

A Lithium Ion (“Li-Ion”) 18650 cell (“battery”) purchase may be more than you bargained for. Counterfeit 18650 Lithium Ion batteries have been identified in some deaths, and a number of injuries and fires. So it is important for you to vape with authentic batteries for your safety. Here we collected some easy ways to show you how to spot a counterfeit 18650 battery.

A. Battery Wrapper – Material, Color & Code Printed

We can easily spot a counterfeit battery by comparing the battery wrappers, as the manufacturers of counterfeit batteries cannot get the same source of wrappers that the original manufacturers use. So there are some very clear differences on the wrappers:

  • Color – original ones are always deep in color, while the counterfeit ones are always bright. This is easy to identify for Samsung & SONY green color wrapper batteries.
  • Material – when you take off the wrappers from the battery, you’ll see the original ones are always soft to touch, while the counterfeit ones are always hard.
  • Code Printed – there is a clear difference for the code printed on the wrappers: text color, text font, text size and position.

B. Manufacture Date Code or Serial Number

Except the differences of text color, font and size printed, we can also use those codes to spot a counterfeit battery. Lets take Samsung battery for example.

There are 3 lines of printing on the Samsung 18650 battery cells.

The first line shows the chemistry (ICR or INR), model number and some times with the place of origin, such as INR18650-25R, ICR18650-26F M (M means made in Malaysia).

The second line shows the brand name (SAMSUNG) and factory (SDI means produced in Korea or other branches, SDIEM means produced by Samsung Energy Malaysia).

The last line shows the date code with 4 numbers or numbers + letters.

Example: Samsung INR18650-25R code: 2H23

counterfeit 18650 battery
Data code

The first number “2” for Samsung internal identification

The second letter “H” = Year (2012=C; 2013=D; 2014=E; 2015=F, 2016=G, 2017=H, and so on…)

The third number “2” = Month (Made in Korea, JAN=1; FEB=2; … SEP=9; OCT=A; NOV=B; DEC=C. Made in Malaysia, JAN=P; FEB=Q; March=R … OCT=Y; NOV=Z; DEC=0)

The last number “3” = Week

Therefore, code: 2H23 means the battery made in 2017, the 3rd week of FEB.

While the counterfeit battery number: JF4T, does not make sense for the last code T.

Another example for LG battery:

LG HG2 Data Code
LG HG2 Data Code

There are 2 lines of printing on each LG 18650 cell, and we could have full information by checking the printing code. For example, LG HG2:

The first line printed: LGDBHG21865  

  • LG: Brand name
  • D: Place of origin (Letter A, C, D are made in Korea; Letter E, G … are made in Nanjing, China)
  • B: Capacity code (A: 0-2400mAh; B: More than 2400mAh; S3=2200mAh; A4=2400mAh; B3=2600mAh; C1=2800mAh)
  • HG2: Cell model
  • 1865: Dimensions of cell

The second line printed: S128K082AG

  • S: Year (A=2001; B=2002; … P=2016; Q=2017; R=2018, S=2019, and so on…)
  • 128: Day (128th day of S=2019)
  • K08: Lot number
  • 2: Product number
  • AG: LG internal code

C. Top-cap Identification

You may have never noticed, but each brand of 18650 has their own specific top-cap which is very difficult to counterfeit. A counterfeiter would need a very cheap way to completely take the battery apart, and put it together again with a low (undetectable) amount of damage. Therefor it is possible to ID an 18650’s manufacturer just by glancing at its top cap.

18650 Topcap Compare, picture credit to batterybro

D. Size & Weight

For big companies like SAMSUNG, SONY & LG, they all have strict QC for each battery unit to guarantee all of their products are qualified based on their official datasheet or specifications. So we can check their datasheet and compare below simple specifications: Size and weight.

Lets take SAMSUNG INR18650-25R for example:

 Spec.Typical INR18650-25R
Diameter (mm)18.33 ± 0.0718.33 ± 0.07
Height (mm)64.85 ± 0.1564.85 ± 0.15
Weight (g)Max. 45.0 43.8
INR18650-25R Specs

Of course, the counterfeiters can also match the specifications in size and weight, just like the one in my hand. So right now, it is not easy to spot a counterfeit just by measuring its size and weight. But sometimes it works. Here are some big brands vaping battery datasheets we collected:

E. Defects and Visual Signs of Wear and Tear

Here are some other ways you can quickly see whether your battery is new or used. There are some obvious defects that a manufacturer would never allow to be sold off to a reputable dealer. If your “new” batteries show any of these signs of wear and tear you have likely purchased used batteries.

The Burn Mark. This battery came with a burn mark that must have been very hot to both scorch the steel and burn away the plastic washer. It was being sold as a new VTC5 but is certainly not. This battery should be recycled.

18650 scratched bottom

Large amount of bottom scratches. This photo did not do the scratches justice. The entire negative cell was very scratched, in many direction and with scratches reaching the rim of the battery. This is far more damage than the regular wear and tear from a manufacturer’s assembly line. This battery was also being sold as a new Sony VTC5 – but is obviously not.

18650 rust

The rust spots. What is rust doing on your batteries? This is bad news and indicative of a really old battery. Again, this cell was being sold as a new VTC5. If your battery is rusting like this when you buy it, it should be put directly in a nearby recycling bin.

Stickers on Your Battery

Note that many lithium-ion batteries have a separate sticker on each cell which states the cell’s size, voltage, and capacity. International shipping rules mandated by the United Nations require this information for each cell when shipped via air freight (note: this is not necessary for sea shipping). HealthCabin’s suppliers will tape a piece of paper with this information and stick it to the battery. It does not mean the batteries are fake, just that they were shipped via air freight from Asia and we need a simple way to comply with the rules.

HealthCabin Battery Sticker
HealthCabin Battery Sticker

How to Avoid Buying Counterfeit 18650 Batteries?

Spotting good fakes is impossible for most of us. Your only hope is to buy good fakes. Still, here is some common sense information that you might want to keep tucked away for easy retrieval the next time you see an unbeatable sale, or are in need of new batteries.

Buy from a trusted vendor. – Common sense, right? Here at HealthCabin, as a reputable vaping distributor since 2008, all of our li-ion cells are authentic, including the top brands of SAMSUNG, SONY & LG.

Don’t Buy Cheap Cells or with Big Discounts. – The truth is “You get what you paid for”, battery is very important for your vaping safety, so never buy cheap batteries!

Best 18650 Batteries
Best 18650 Batteries

Some Knowledgeable Sources

There are so many specialists or groups have shared their valueable knowledge on the internet, here are some knowledgeable sources we collected:

  • Mooch’s blog on ECF, I believe Mooch is the most reputable battery tester in vaping group, he is reliable.
  • Battery Database – very detailed info for li-ion batteries with datasheet, cell data and photos.


In this post, I just share you some simple ways to spot counterfeit batteries, of course if you can get access to professional testing devices, things will be more clear. For some good counterfeits, not all of the ways mentioned above will work. But overall, you can still follow these steps to check your batteries:

  • Visually check the top, bottom and wrappers;
  • Check the printed info
  • Check the data code
  • Check the size & weight

Which 18650 battery do you use? Do you trust its origins? Why or why not? Tell us in comments below.


  1. Really good information! By far the easiest and most concise information I’ve found after reading reams of other web pages so THANK YOU!

  2. Also ran into rusty batteries.
    In my case it was ones inside an existing 12V motorcycle battery containing 26650 A123 “nanophosphate”
    This one had 2 good cells and 6 bad ones with obvious damage, yet weighing them yielded very little
    information so it might have just been coincidence or more than likely exposure etc from a vented cell.
    4 of the 8 read >3V and the others were at 0.5 and 0.6V
    I could try and clean them up but not worth the risk.

  3. I’ve asked a battery wholesaler about the Manufacture Date Code “JF4T”. The answer was that this is a real date code from the Samsung factory in Tianjiin, China. “JF4” is the actual date code while “T” is Samsungs internal code for the Tianjiin factory – so the battery was built in week 4 of march 2019.

  4. I bought 4 x Samsung 25R 18650 batteries in June 2020 from a seller on eBay at a very cheap price (about AUD 4.50 each) . They are obviously fake because there are 4 (four) legs for the top cap instead of 3 for Samsung as per photo above. Apart from that it is hard to tell the difference. Anyway, I am still using those batteries till today (17/07/2022) and the mAh readings are about 2200 mAh after grading charge using my XTAR VC4SL charger.
    I guess I got a good fake.

  5. There’s no nickel ions, iron ions, manganese or cobalt ions. The ions in all cases are lithium ions. In all cases the cathode contains oxides of nickel, or cobalt, etc, but they are not the ions. Lithium is the ion. Thats why theyre called lithium-ion.

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