Played with a fake iPhone

On Sunday, we managed to get out to Dim Sum at Northbridge Chinese Restaurant.  The crowd outside was massive for some reason – seems like the new “gold” tiles on the front of the restaurant are paying their way (how many Char Siew Pao’s would they need to sell for each tile?)

After nearly 30 minutes wait, we got our table.  My wife’s Uncle sat next to me and whipped out his latest toy. He said he was having some problems with the digital compass on it.

At first glance I exclaimed “Wow! You got an iPhone 3GS!”.    He just grinned.

But I did a double take – it seemed a bit fatter than mine.  Hmm.. the screen also looked slightly smaller too – only 3 rows of application icons instead of 4.  I turned it over, it had the same iPhone markings on the back – but it was clearly not a real iPhone.

Seems to look the same

And so I eagerly asked if I could have a play.

What’s Cool

  • It has 2 SIM card slots, but he was only using one at the time
  • The rear panel can slide out to access the removable battery and the SIM card slots
  • It also has a micro SD slot to add more memory
  • It was only about $150 AUD after shipping

Err..  unfortunately that’s about it.

What’s Not So Good

Same markings on the back

Touch Screen

OK, it’s got a touch screen, but at first, I couldn’t even swipe the screen to move to the next set of icons!  I eventually found I had to use my fingernail, and even so, the scrolling was NOT reponsive at all – it was quite jerky.  Apple definitely have perfected the way you interact with the screen by touch.  I let my wife’s Uncle play with my iPhone and he was just amazed at how much better it is…  and disappointed at how crap his $150 iPhone fake was.

No App Store

The fake iPhone comes with a few screens of applications and games.  Apparently they were all there when he got the phone. 

But that’s it. 

No App Store means a really limiting future after-sales experience.  The fake iPhone is then more like an older 5-10 year old Nokia phone with a limited set of games, than an iPhone which is more like a computer with thousands of games and applications that can be bought later, and continually upgraded.   Some of the applications that were on there had Chinese text.  I couldn’t find a way to change it to English.

Pre-Installed Applications


Unfortunately I didn’t have a laptop or headphones with me at dimsum, but the only music that was loaded on the fake iPhone were 3 Chinese songs.  The interface didn’t seem as swish as the iPod on an iPhone.  I’m not sure how music would be loaded onto the phone, but I assume you would have to copy it onto the microSD card which means no iTunes integration.

Digital Compass

I too tried to get this to work with no success.   The compass application loaded but North was everywhere!

What Works


The camera function worked, but the colours on the fake iPhone screen were more washed out than my iPhone side by side.  Not sure if this is the fault of the screen or the camera.  Without downloading it onto a computer to compare, it’s hard to tell.

Camera worked OK with washed out colours

Phone calls

Luckily the fake iPhone can make and receive phone calls, but my wife’s uncle did say that he has had a few call dropouts.  Hmmm…

I didn’t get to try the GPS out (if it even has one). 

So in summary, I was not impressed at all and nor was the owner.  From a bit of googling, it seems that there are a few different fake iPhones out there with different features sets, so if you really want to get one, I’d strongly advise trying it out before buying.  Living in Australia, that unfortunately is not an option.

In my opinion, not having access to the App Store is a deal breaker.   I hope to play with it again to see how the web browser works and if it supports Flash.

(Apologies for the quality of the pictures in this post – took them really quickly with my iPhone in dim dimsum lighting in between dishes.)


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