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Crime Iphone Apple

What You Get When You Buy a $40 iPhone In a Bar 211

Posted by timothy
from the cheap-thrills dept.
Barence writes "How good — or bad — are fake iPhones? PC Pro blogger Steve Cassidy has a friend who paid £25 ($40) for an 'iPhone' in a bar, and he's got the photos and full lowdown of what's inside this not-so smartphone. The phone looks convincing enough from the outside, with a genuine-looking backplate, but things start to go wrong when you switch it on. What's a "Java" and "WLAN" App button doing on the screen? And how about that Internet Explorer icon? It's like you're handling an artefact from an alternate history, dropped in via a spacetime wormhole. It has dual SIM handling, too, and came with a bizarre auxiliary battery festooned with warnings about not pressing a button mounted on the front of the top-up device."
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What You Get When You Buy a $40 iPhone In a Bar

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  • by Shatteredstar (1722136) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:16PM (#31205096)

    You know I'm almost never ceasing to be amazed by the effort and dedication of people who bootleg.

    So much hard work. So much time spent working out how to design, construct, and replicate just close enough to make the sale and in some places even make a 'moderately' working replica.

    If only the bootleggers could be recruited to actually create and sell your product!

    On another thought you have to wonder on a component standpoint some of the bootleggers/replicators (wow sounds like I'm talking about some robot race) throw it all together with all that effort and sell it so cheap when a suitably crappy real version can cost quadruple or more!

    • by e2d2 (115622)

      The same could be said of all sophisticated criminals. For those that run large bot nets. Why so much effort into a crime? If you put the same effort into releasing good software you could make a very very good living.

    • by TimeTraveler1884 (832874) on Friday February 19, 2010 @08:17PM (#31206340)

      So much time spent working out how to design, construct, and replicate just close enough to make the sale...

      I doubt there was little if any NRE (Non-Reoccurring Engineering) costs involved in the construction of these iPhonies. The price alone strongly suggests the most likely explanation is that the Chinese manufactures making the genuine iPhone, are running their production lines on the side, without Apple's consent.

      Apple has handed them the specifications and all the manufacturer has to do is build a few thousand more than what Apple orders. The bootleg manufacturers don't even have to pay for things like molds or automation setup costs. They then fill in any missing pieces (such as software or mute slider switches) with the cheapest thing they can get.

      You probably would be surprised at how often this happens with consumer goods built in China.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gmack (197796)

        I doubt that very much. The dual sim tells me it's not at all Apple electronics and most likely made by SCI. Sci makes cheap knockoffs using an OS they skin to make the front screen look like whatever OS they are mimicking. Slap an Apple look alike case and home screen and it's an iphone. Slap a t mobile g1 case on it and it's Android.

        I actually own one. I needed a cheap phone fast and their G1 knockoff was cheaper than even low end phones around here. It wasn't bad for the price but I wish they woul

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Nikker (749551)
          The sim is really the only part of the phone apple didn't design. It is a standard part that is roughly the same for all phones because it comes from specs from the FCC or your local equivalent. It would be like a wifi chipset it just deals with radio protocols and encryption. The main point is that the only benifit to outsourcing to China is labour costs, you have to provide specs for everything. When they are not only making the overall design but all the individual components are being manufactured right
    • by orlanz (882574) on Friday February 19, 2010 @09:10PM (#31206700)

      Its called the 3rd shift. You have Chinese factories that just keep the assembly line running for a third unoffical shift. The local assembler, nor the US company really cares enough to stop them. Not to mention the incentives from the under the table dealings.

      Why doesn't the US company stop them? Cause the markets that they really care about and make profit in (US and Europe) have heavy enough disincentives to make bootlegging insignificant in comparison to the costs of further stopping them. Plus, the majority of the bootlegging sector can't or won't afford your product anyway. They aren't a customer to begin with, so why stop them from subsidizing your purchasing costs to the 3 shift vendor.

      Now when politics hits the fan or someone gets greedy under the table, all Ell breaks loose.... for a week and then freezes over again. As to address gmack's post further down, most mass produced hardware is like lego blocks. You just need a smart enough individual in electrical engineering to put things together in the right order (trust me, that's not a scarcity in most of the world). So its not too hard to put an extra solid disk chip, sim reader, flash light, or even add a FM component when you are already the assembler who has access to the _expensive_ specs, the assemblers, AND the manufactures behind them. Not to mention, most hardware will automatically support the additional stuff as its already built in, but for high, profitable yield ratios, those features are disabled or not used (See AMD Phenom II X series for an excellent example). This is why the third shift stuff is such a hit or miss, its doesn't have proper QC to minimize the defects. If they did, it would be VERY expensive... more so than the original.

  • by rarel (697734) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:17PM (#31205112) Homepage
    the iPhony!
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:19PM (#31205126) Homepage

    Arrested?

    • Why? How is buying something in a bar different from buying it off (say) craigslist?

      • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday February 19, 2010 @08:26PM (#31206388) Homepage

        MichaelSmith, age 5: "But what was the underlying cause? Was he in search of food? Was he being pursued by a predator? Was there a potential mate on the other side of the road?!?"

        MichaelSmith, age 10: "Technically they never found any parts of the astronauts washed up on the beach, which makes that a single entendre!!"

        MichaelSmith, age 15: "All mammal meat is RED!! Plus the anatomies are completely different. OJ wouldn't necessarily be any better at cutting a turkey than anyone else just because he allegedly murdered someone."

        MichaelSmith, present day: "That doesn't even make sense! There were eight years between the Challenger disaster and the OJ Simpson trial, and supposedly I only aged FIVE years?!?!"

    • Yep, but at least this one comes pre-jailbroken.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mschoolbus (627182)
      Arrested as in beer, not as in speech.
  • by Itninja (937614) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:19PM (#31205132) Homepage
    From TFA: The final nail in the coffin was an app we found five screens in, which even allowing for "cultural differences" Apple would never allow through the approvals process. The app in questions showed a lissom Asian lady lying on a bed who wriggles and moans suggestively when you rub your finger over her.

    So Apple would not allow this, but we can have like 100 fart apps? That's pretty messed up.
  • Awesome review (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DavidR1991 (1047748) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:20PM (#31205148) Homepage

    Ashens did a review of one of these a while ago [youtube.com] (the menu does not look identical, but the resolution of the screen + font seems similar).

    Sharing purely because I found it fairly amusing (especially the call dropping feature...)

  • A guy I work with has one of these he bought in China. If it has a removable battery and Java it might be a good thing to own.

    • I'd be afraid to (Score:2, Interesting)

      by KingSkippus (799657)

      I'd be scared to try to use this for anything but maybe passing some idle time playing games.

      I mean, think about it. The OS and core apps are developed in China. I'd be afraid if I use Chinzilla to read my e-mail on this thing, even if by WiFi, it would be "phoning home" to the people who installed the software to let them know where I'm going, what I'm doing, and oh, here are his passwords. Good luck reporting or prosecuting that identity theft.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They are standard fare from DealExtreme [dealextreme.com]. I don't know why this is even news.

      Actually some of the phones they have look pretty decent. I wouldn't mind getting my hands on one of the watch phones that they sell.

  • This is exactly what the new 'Anti-counterfeiting Treaty' currently being negotiated in secret is meant to protect us from!

    Moral of this story - Don't buy a smart phone after you've been drinking all night and especially not one from said bar! I mean, come-on, everyone knows bars don't sell phones they sell hookers and blow!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I doubt it will protect us really, afterall I have my own views on how well 'anti-counterfeiting' will work in countries that have repeatedly basically said "We'll do something about it!" then obviously not done anything.

      As for moral of the story we can take another from it...

      "There is a strong market for cheap thrill devices in bars!"

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by 91degrees (207121)
        Why not? It sounds at least as good as any other cheap touchscreen phone at a quarter of the price.
    • Moral of this story - Don't buy a smart phone after you've been drinking all night and especially not one from said bar!

      I seriously thought, for a moment or two, you said "especially not one from the salad bar!"

  • by phoenix321 (734987) * on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:24PM (#31205208)

    It's even better than the iPhone:
    - two SIMs
    - user-changeable battery
    - unlocked

    but here's my favorite:
    - "drag and drop files through USB port of computer (No Software Required)"

    No mandatory iTunes. Eat that, Steve!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Strange the person may've bought an actual semi useful thing..once they get some of the junk off of it!

      Perhaps the bootleggers in this example have actually produced something with some degree of quality/usefulness that surpasses the real one...well at least to the Apple haters out there of course.

      • by pikine (771084) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:38PM (#31205364) Journal
        This quote from TFA hits the target right on.

        What leaves me speechless is that the SciPhone must represent more work and more value – and more capability – than its £25 asking price, just in terms of cost of development and production. Just about the only way to be stupider than incurring Apple’s wrath with a forgery, is to grossly undervalue the technology you use as part of that forgery. It’s a bit like making a forged pound coin by melting down gold sovereigns

        It actually seems to be a very useful device, sold dirt cheap only because the manufacturer couldn't get over the guilt that they're selling counterfeiting iPhone. Now, I only wish they would design and market a legitimate brand to compete with Apple.

      • by phoenix321 (734987) * on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:49PM (#31205476)

        I can speak from experience that Chinese no-name dual-SIM touchscreen phones are way better than their price point and reputation would suggest.

        600RMB (~60 EUR) would get you a touchscreen phone from ChangHong with integrated stylus and character recognition (Chinese and Latin, but it's error prone), high resolution display (480*x?), two SIMs, music player, straight mini USB interface, driverless USB mass storage interface, 8GB integrated, up to 32gb via SDHC micro and a 2.5Mpixel camera. And the phone can be set to English (with some Engrish in the mix of course). Bluetooth yes, but no 3G, no WiFi.

        It looks like this (I don't know if that is the model I played with, it looks only vaguely similar)
        http://img.alibaba.com/photo/263983686/ChangHong-F8-mobile-phone.jpg [alibaba.com]

        An interesting feature is text-to-speech for names stored in the address book: it actually read the name of a caller in understandable English. Caller not in the adressbook with CLIP enabled had their numbers spelled aloud. In Chinese only of course :)

        One feature I was very content with is the battery time: it has a 4000mAh battery - NiMH, not Li-Ion but still. A solid two weeks of battery power with medium amounts of talking time in between is more than impressive. Within the 600 RMB package was a second identical battery, a charging station, a 5V USB charger that could be substituted with any other 5V USB charger that exists. That way, you could always keep one battery charged and switch as soon as the other battery got low. Memory effect shmemory effect - you'll get a brandnew original battery for 5 EUR, so it's no problem charging the thing whenever you need to. Maybe Li-Ion is overrated and the situation where a memory effect would be noticeable isn't that common. I mean, who recharges their phone daily?

        Measured in value-per-dollar, this thing was great. Downsides and eventual deal-breakers were some Engrish remains in the menu but the worst was some menus that were in Chinese only, no translation available. The games for example, but also some SMS sub-menus.

        When (not if!) ChangHong gets around to translate the firmware with all submenus and iron out the last kinks, this will devastate the lower end cellphone market.

        • touchscreen phone from ChangHong with integrated stylus and character recognition (Chinese and Latin, but it's error prone)

          Who sends text messages in Latin these days? The Pope?

        • 600RMB (~60 EUR) would get you a touchscreen phone from ChangHong with integrated stylus and character recognition (Chinese and Latin, but it's error prone), high resolution display (480*x?), two SIMs, music player, straight mini USB interface, driverless USB mass storage interface, 8GB integrated, up to 32gb via SDHC micro and a 2.5Mpixel camera. And the phone can be set to English (with some Engrish in the mix of course). Bluetooth yes, but no 3G, no WiFi.

          Hmm, so it has less space than a Nomad, and no wireless...

        • Chinese no-name dual-SIM touchscreen phones are way better than their price point and reputation would suggest

          character recognition (Chinese and Latin, but it's error prone)
          And the phone can be set to English (with some Engrish in the mix of course).
          Caller not in the adressbook with CLIP enabled had their numbers spelled aloud. In Chinese only of course :)
          Downsides and eventual deal-breakers were some Engrish remains in the menu but the worst was some menus that were in Chinese only, no translation availa
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mdwh2 (535323)

      Indeed, and this is nothing new - the Iphones have long being playing catchup to what's available in cheap bog standard phones (e.g., 3G, copy/paste, video recording, Java, MMS, ability to run apps from anywhere, tethering). Sure, it has better hardware (you'd hope so, for the price), but it's also had gaps that have taken Apple years to fix (and in some cases, they're still not available), and it is hardly the be all and end all of phones, nor is it clear why it deserves the "smartphone" label when other p

  • by TokyoJimu (21045) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:28PM (#31205258) Homepage

    I recently spotted a waiter with an iPhone in a third-world country so I went over to ask him about it. But it quickly became obvious that it was a fake. The sad thing is, I don't think the guy knew it. He said his mom paid $120 for it but it was basically unusable. You had to press real hard on the screen and the location calibration was way off (I'd played with another fake iPhone when I was in Laos and it was much better than this one). I showed him mine and the way it's supposed to work, with just a light flick of the finger.

    Once I'd convinced him it was a fake, he asked me how much fakes like his go for in the U.S. I told him we don't have the fakes because you can get a new real one for $99 (with two-year contract). I ended up talking to the guy for a half-hour and it was a learning experience for both of us. But I felt bad for the guy, having spent several months' salary on a phone that barely worked (and possibly thinking that Apple makes such poor products)

    • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:35PM (#31205334)

      How much is "$99 (with a two year contract)"?

      • by rarel (697734)
        The point is that you pay 99 bucks and leave the store with one. Contract technicalities are another story altogether.
        • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@ g m a i l.com> on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:49PM (#31205478)

          Not that I want to dispute your overall point of that's what you're counting, but a contract that binds you to another $1700 outlay over 2 years isn't much of a "technicality".

          • by rarel (697734)
            Oh sure.

            Should have put quotes, it was meant as sarcasm. Personally, I think such lock-in contracts are just evil. :/

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Hal_Porter (817932)

          That's the can do spirit that has made America what it is today!

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      The US may not have "Iphone fakes", but obviously there is a market for $120 or similar phones, without contract. The Iphone fake things sounds more a property of fashion than technicality - people are engulfed by the RDF, and think they look hip if they have an Iphone.

      I showed him mine and the way it's supposed to work, with just a light flick of the finger.

      So his had a resistive screen - try using your phone with gloves sometime, and see how well that works for you.

  • Botnet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kheldan (1460303) on Friday February 19, 2010 @06:31PM (#31205296) Journal
    I wouldn't at all be surprised, especially for the rediculously low selling price, if it's got botnet software embedded right into it, and this is part of an overall plan to create a wireless and mobile botnet. Either that, or a tool for direct identity theft or worse.
    • by khallow (566160)
      I got to agree. My bet is that they're grabbing credit card numbers and bank information.
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      Probably also shows up as a drive for Windows with a handy autorun.inf for installing said software. "Please to type administrator password for the sync"
  • When you buy a name-brand item from someone you don't know on the street or in a bar, you get a cheap knock-off.

    Film at eleven.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by KaimaraZatar (1267396)
      "When you buy a name-brand item from someone you don't know..."

      Well, you could take the time to get to know them. But they'd probably still sell you the cheap knock-off.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      And all this time I thought if I were to buy a name-brand product for dirt cheap at a bar that it would be stolen property.

      Probably in the states its more likely to be stolen at least rather than a knock-off. Knock-offs are more likely at the flea markets in the states rather than at bars.

      • by Dogtanian (588974)
        Generally speaking, the same holds in the UK as well- if a guy offers you something in a pub at a cheapass price, it's likely stolen. Though I guess it *could* be a scammer floggeing fakes to people who think- and don't care- that they're getting stolen but genuine goods at a cheap price.
  • Great timing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rsayers (987262)
    I *just* ordered one of these from eBay yesterday. I needed a cheap unlocked phone, this option was cheaper than most name-brand used phones and at the price I paid, I won't be terribly upset if it's complete garbage.
    • by rickb928 (945187)

      On one hand, what possible use is a phone that actually doesn't work?

      On the other hand, what fun is it to play with an obvious iPhone knockoff?

      See? I could have been an economist... ''other hand' [quotationsbook.com]... In fact,

      I might actually be one now...

    • this option was cheaper than most name-brand used phones and at the price I paid, I won't be terribly upset if it's complete garbage.

      Why would you pay actual money for 'complete garbage'?
      Ok, $5 maybe. But I've got a bag of actual garbage I'll sell you for $10, if you want it.
    • by Boogaroo (604901)

      Be prepared for a poor web browsing experience.
      Pages will show up in Chinese.
      You won't be able to access some pages that require you to log in.

  • by hduff (570443)

    . . . a bizarre auxiliary battery festooned with warnings about not pressing a button mounted on the front of the top-up device.

    What happened when you pressed the button?

  • maybe it's better? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by darrenkopp (981266)
    i bet it'll run flash before the iphone does.
  • I initially bought one of these as a joke.

    At first I hated it, but it really grew on me. Having an unlocked iPhone form-factor phone, that I can transfer anything I want to it, pictures, music, movies, all over usb, is really nice. I took it traveling and really liked having two batteries, especially after I started reading books on it. Say what you want about the new eBook readers, but I love having a backlit screen that can fit in my pocket, fit hundreds of books on microSD cards, and has a backup batt

    • by argent (18001)

      What's the OS? Does it run Mobibook reader?

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      The one thing which would make me seriously consider buying one (or more) of these phones - even though I'm in an all-CDMA area - is the ability to run Linux on them - Maemo/Moblin/Android or similar.

      So, I have to wonder: why hasn't anyone put Linux on any of these, and why isn't there an extensive modding community? Do they have DRM or some such thing preventing such a thing, or are so many corners taken that booting anything but the stock ROM will fail? A new $50 ARM computer with decent specs and a usabl

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        Oh yeah, I thought I might add: if the asking price in a Chinese market is $40, you know they'll part with the device for a fraction of that. They probably get them for $10-15 each and are pleased if they make $25 each.

  • by Dorsai65 (804760)
    What the hell did he THINK he was going to get for his money? In a freakin' BAR?
  • You see the iphone-wannabes on ebay, craigslist, etc, all the time. Even more impressive is how little time it takes the counterfeiters to crank out the clones. A while ago I did a search on ebay for the blackberry 8520 - which is a pretty recent model - and came up with quite a few clones along with the genuine phones. They even list them as "8520", and they fake the RIM blackberry logo, but they don't mention until the end of the listing that the phone is is a fake. A fake with many similar features a
  • Odd how they decided to rip off some icons for the interface but not others. And some of the ones they did rip off were used for unrelated apps like the Safari browser icon for an app named "Compass." Strange.

  • Since Android is open source, couldn't they just use it and skin it to mimic the iPhone? That would be free and legal, and potentially make this a pretty cool device.

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