Smartphones are among the most widely available gadgets out in the market. That’s why it's unavoidable for shoppers to encounter a large number of bootlegs for both phones and their accessories.
For example, counterfeit consumer electronics were the second most-confiscated items in 2013 and 2014, according to the Intellectual Property Rights Center of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. These counterfeit goods had an estimated worth of around $145.86 million and $162.20 million, respectively. In 2015, a Chinese bootleg iPhone factory was shut down. This factory produced more than 41,000 fake iPhones worth as much as $19 million.
And with all these bootlegs out in the market, the temptation to buy them won’t subside. After all, they will always be cheaper to make and sell. Unfortunately, these fakes will almost always be of low quality—whether it’s due to their physical appearance or performance. They won’t have the same warranty that originals enjoy.
With those caveats in mind, we really should avoid counterfeit products. Let's take a look at how we can spot fake smartphones and accessories when we shop.
Spotting Fake Smartphones:
Check the device’s appearance.
One of the first things you can check is the screen size. Bootleg Samsung devices have a relatively smaller screen than original ones. There should also be as little distance between the screen and the edges of the phone as possible.
For iPhones, the originals use pentalobe security screws while fake ones use standard Philips screws. The pentalobe security screw has five lobes that provide a tamper-proof system for the iPhone.
Use the Android test codes.
Android devices have a "test mode" that can be accessed by typing *#0*# on the keypad. Here, you can access a list of sensors the phone has, allowing you to check if there’s any missing parts. Some of the must-have ones include an accelerometer, proximity sensor, a magnetic sensor, and a fingerprint scanner. Each of these will vary by device, so be sure to review the list.
A full list of codes can be viewed here.
Verify the serial number or IMEI number.
Entering *#06# on the dialer will allow you to access your iPhone's serial number and your Android phone's IMEI number.
Another way to get your iPhone’s serial number would be to go to "Settings," choose "General," and then click "About.” You can then access the Apple website and enter your iPhone serial number to verify if your iPhone is the real deal.
Samsung phone owners can also call their local Samsung dealer to check if the number is registered in their database.
Check if built-in apps can run
There are functions exclusive to original iPhones. One of the surest ways to tell a bootleg from a genuine one is to launch Siri. If the digital assistant works seamlessly, you can be sure it's not a bootleg iPhone.
You can also try to connect your iPhone to iTunes. Bootleg devices will usually get an error because the app will not recognize the phone.
Check the online store
All Android devices, bootleg or not, can access the Google PlayStore. However, original Apple devices are the only ones that can access the Apple AppStore. Try to test your device if it can log in to that before buying it.
Spotting Fake Accessories
You can also double-check if the Apple accessory you’re getting is original. For example, an Apple Lightning to USB cable has "Designed by Apple in California" and either "Assembled in China" or "Assembed in Vietnam" on the cable. These should be about seven inches from the USB connector. You'll also see a 12-digit serial number at the end of that label.
Other third party apps can be distinguished by their appearances and logos. For example, Samsung chargers have a thinner "A" on their logos, as opposed to bootlegs. Charger socket contacts also have a distinct rib as opposed to the round ones on fakes.
These are just some of the most important things too look out for when buying your gadgets. The important thing is to do your research beforehand on the specs and appearances of the devices you intend to buy. Having a reference will help save you from the headache of suffering caused by using subpar products.
And to completely minimize the risk of getting a fake item, make sure to buy only from authorized resellers. Not only are you assured of getting a genuine iPhone or Android smartphone—you are also guaranteed to get full warranty and better customer service.