In china whilst discussing the latest mobile phones and gadgets the term shanzhai is bandied about to describe fake or counterfeit phones with similar features to those of the mainstream manufacturers.The fake phone market is booming with high end mobile phones being cloned and reproduced as quickly as the big brands can get their products to the market. The fake handsets are attractively priced, often undercutting the genuine phone by hundreds of pounds, but there are obviously potential pitfalls the buyers may encounter.
On the face of it, the phones are supplied in by reputable shops in shopping malls across China, and are supplied in sleek well produced packaging which looks a as good as the genuine product, some of the phones will be have been carefully copied using logos from Sony Ericsson, Apple, and Nokia, whilst others are rebranded with a fake id similar to that of the phone they are trying to fake.
The phones with a fake id may take the form of slight alteration to the spelling of brand names, for instance Nokia becomes Nekia, and for the most part, only careful examination of the phone reveals it is a convincing fake handset.
Cutting the Corners
Producing cheap phones requires even cheaper components, many users will soon discover this, often the fake mobiles will have a very basic operating system with limited scope for the user to change even the most basic settings, the limited functionality also becomes apparent with a lack of support for common applications such as java. The digital camera fitted to the fake handsets will often not live up to the customers expectations or of those quoted on the box, often an alleged 5 mega pixel camera will materialise as a 1-2 mega pixel camera, a poor sensor will add to the disappointment returning small images that will not scale up when transferred to a pc.
The list of inadequacy continues, the music players on many of the fake phones only support a limited range of file extensions, mp3 is generally supported but the most common file type wma is not, leading to frustration amongst customers as music tracks have to be converted on PC before being transferred onto the phone. The same can be said for the video support the phones offer, dated technology is used to provide some function, but the standard quality of 20fps video offered by the fake phone manufacturers will be below that of the genuine product. In addition, the quality of playback will be vastly affected by the use of low power and poor quality speakers.
Other drawbacks that may be apparent on these fake or shanzhai handsets is quality of other key features, GPRS, TV reception and gaming. Of the phones tested many could receive GPRS signals, due to not having a receiver fitted, the fake phones will sometimes be able to receive TV broadcasts, but often the picture quality is very poor due to the internal phone aerial being of inferior quality.
There is widespread support in china for the manufacture of fake mobile phones, excessive cost of the large manufacturers phones is cited as the main reason for producing the fake phones at low prices. Other critics though argue the shanzhai market for everything fake is damaging Chinas reputation to effectively trade on world markets, as consumers become reluctant to source products manufactured in China, due to concerns about fake goods, and lack of warranties.