iPhone & iPod Knockoffs in China

Counter China

In Beijing we found a lot of electronics knockoffs. These weren’t the extra-runs-at-the-same-factory variety, but instead an entirely different product with similar hardware and branding. I saw “Sony” cameras, “Nokia H-Series” phones, fake iPhones, and fake iPods. Several times the people behind the counter thought that they were the real deal and didn’t understand my reluctance to purchase anything.

The iPods were especially impressive. They had very similar casing (though the navigation wheel is really just 5 buttons). The iPhones on the other hand looked nothing like the original except for the basic shape of the device. All of these knockoffs had completely different hardware.

Iphone Front China Real Iphone Front China Ipod Front China

We also spotted real iPhones. They were all hacked and came pre-installed with iLang, an iPhone app that adds support for Chinese. While the knockoffs were in the $80 – $200 range (without haggling), the real iPhones were more inline with US prices. Wired has an article on these unlocked iPhones and provides the back story of how they came to China.

(Photo Credit: Tim O’Reilly) You can see my Beijing Photos on Flickr — including a game system modder’s workshop and offerings.

tags: , , ,
  • Two years ago at an electronics store next to the Qianmen Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant in Beijing (supposed creator of “Peking Duck”), I naively bought a “Sony” 4GB USB drive (I desperately needed the storage and was in a hurry). It failed completely after copying some files to it. And as my guide pointed out, the notion of a money-back guarantee is not well-respected or enforced in China (especially by people selling clearly fraudulent items). So caveat emptor is a good strategy.

  • Tom

    I would recommend that you don’t purchase anything in the area of the Qianmen Quanjude Roast Duck restaurant. It is a tourist trap. Everything there is overpriced junk. And the duck isn’t great either.

    The real center for electronics in Beijing is Zhong Guancun. It is packed with phones, computers, mp3 players, parts, and accessories. And the stuff actually works. Foreigners are rare, but they will gladly make a deal. But be expected to be quoted about 30% more, as they assume you wouldn’t know the true value anyways. Always offer a bit less.

  • Tom

    $80 – $200 – lol
    In Germany it costs 900 Euro without contract.

  • haptiK

    zzZZZ enough of the iphone already…

  • Oha, Steve will not like that ;)

  • Roy

    Tom – iPhones have just arrived in Israel and at the moment they cost here almost 700$ just the iPhone itself.

  • haptiK

    Well apple announced yesterday that they are going to offer unlocked IPhones in germany

  • tex

    The Chinese are great, they copy everything they can get their hand on. Even whole Ski-Lifts ;)

  • Hehe, a lot of companies moved their factories to china to reduce costs, no they have to pay the price.

  • Here in Germany is this phone much expensiver.. Maybe I can buy one at ebay or so?
    And change firmware?

  • These clones really look funny, but as long as they are sold only in China, it doesn’t matter for the rest of the world. Dangerous are fakes in genuine looking cases.

    @Franc: Du kannst die Dinger bei ebay.com bestellen. Unlocked und fuer alle Netze. Und preiswerter als bei der Telekom sowieso. Aber kaputt sollten sie dann lieber nicht gehen, wegen der Garantieabwicklung. ((bad) english: You can order unlocked iphones at ebay.com. They are much cheaper than the german 900-Euro-iphones. But there could happen some problems in warranty handling, in case the cell becomes broken.)

  • This “China game” is like an adventure game. You save some bucks, but you the risk to loose everything: Software update, damages, and also a certain risk at customs.
    Okay, in Germany the “free” iphone is a pure rip-off in the moment, but should become much cheaper over time. We are leaving in a world (or at least Europe) with free trade, so no-one will be able to stop parallel imports over time. And I believe it is more than worthwile to invest $ 100 more to have local dealer there.

  • vinoth

    i need a number of mp3 player (ipod)which support with nokia rechargable battory

  • faisal

    can you please send me the driver of IPOD, i lost the CD and i need it as early as possible.

    best regards