Accidentally spending all your hard-earned cash on a fake phone might not be something that’s even on your radar, but we assure you that it’s entirely possible. If you buy a new handset from the wrong place, you could easily end up with a shiny flagship smartphone case that’s stuffed full of fake, inferior components.

Ripping off Samsung’s pricey yet popular smartphone models has a huge market in China, with 2017 research indicating that they accounted for more than 36% of the counterfeit smartphones peddled in that year alone. The iPhone came in second with just 7.7% by comparison, with other handsets less than half of that figure.

The search was carried out by AnTuTu, a company that provides a benchmarking application that can tell you the technical capabilities of your Android device. It’s also a program that’s excellent at spotting knockoffs. In 2017, AnTuTu assessed 17,424,726 devices and found that 2.64% (around 460,000) of these were fakes.  Below, we’ll explore in more detail what you can do to avoid shoddy, fake handsets.

Basic Overview

When you’re checking out a new phone, the most alarming problems should be visible in the phone’s exterior design. If you’re dealing with a fake, there could be anything from buttons being out of alignment or in the wrong place, incorrectly fitted bezels or other components out of their expected place. Depending on how well the counterfeiter has put the phone together, it may not always be immediately obvious that something is wrong with the hardware.

If you’re concerned about counterfeits, then you’re likely trying to purchase a phone from an unofficial seller, in which case you should ask to demo the handset. Ensure that it powers on, as you’d be surprised at just how many scammers will try to flog a device that won’t boot up.

Provided the phone does switch on, you should examine the software. Android allows a great deal of customisation, so producing a sketchy launcher application that mimics an official screen such as the Samsung S8 or Samsung S9 would not be difficult for somebody with technical knowledge. Before you meet a seller to examine a device, ensure that you know what the default theme and appearance looks like for your chosen handset, as well as what application icons and other widgets should be present.

Finally, bear performance in mind; this is the biggie. If your seller is truly trying to shift a fake device stuffed full of cheap components, then the phone likely has a sub-par processor or camera packed inside. A poor processor will struggle with even the most basic of daily use, including battery and CPU-intensive applications such as games. Ensure that you have a thorough play around with some graphically-demanding applications, including having multiple applications running at once. You should also check out the camera image quality. These two points should quickly tell you whether you’re dealing with a pile of old components masquerading as a shiny new Samsung phone.

More detailed checks

Though the above should be possible with a quick once-over of the phone, there are more avenues to explore should you get enough time with the handset to make a full assessment. We’ll list out more checks that you can carry out to help verify if you’re dealing with the real deal.

Verify the hardware components

Counterfeit phones will differ from one handset to the next. Some exterior components may be difficult to tell apart from a real device, but there may still be components missing inside of the phone that are required for advanced features to work. Such components include an NFC chip (near-field communication), required for contactless payments, a biometric fingerprint scanner, Bluetooth module and more.

If you’re unsure as to the legitimacy of the handset, or you’re simply buying a refurbished device and want to be sure that everything works, then take a moment to verify that these key components are functioning properly. Toggle each feature on and attempt to connect the relevant ones such as Bluetooth to another device. Verify that the fingerprint scanner exists within the Settings menu and can function properly.

As well as opening the camera to check image quality as we have mentioned above, be sure to check that both the front and rear cameras work. Compare the camera user interface with the official layout that you’d expect of the Samsung range, as it will almost always differ on counterfeit models.

Run a benchmarking tool

As we’ve mentioned above, benchmarking tools such as AnTuTu verify your phone’s technical specification, which can subsequently be compared against the specifications advertised for the handset online by the manufacturer. Alternatively, you can check them against the side of the box if the phone is being supplied in original packaging.

For a much faster test if you’re pressed for time, you can simply check the phone’s CPU spec. by downloading an application called CPU-Z from the Google Play Store. This application will give you a quick overview of the handset’s processing power, which is nigh-on impossible for a counterfeiter to fake their way through. You’ll also have access to the name of the processor that’s being used by the phone. Since it’s extremely easy to find the name of the processor included in official Samsung handsets online, this will be a clear-cut confirmation of whether you’ve encountered a fake handset.

Looking for a refurbished phone?

If you’re looking for a refurbished handset, then WiseGuys may be able to help. Either drop into one of our stores in Bournemouth and Christchurch, or reach us on 0808 123 2820.