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Beware of Fake Phones Karishma Sundaram | , 2:26 a.m. April 2, 2009 2009-04-02

Any new innovation is subject to plagiarism and copying, and mobile phone handsets are certainly not exceptions under any circumstances. Ordinarily fake phones stay in the local markets where they are manufactured, like the Far East, however of late they have been percolating into the other countries through online auction sites like eBay. 

There have been a couple of incidents where clones of popular phones like the iPhone and the much anticipated Google Android phone, G1 have been sold to unsuspecting buyers. Companies are incapable of doing much about these incidents since the duplicate phones were not bought at properly authorised outlets. Since the transactions are on a one-to-one basis and over the Internet, the key is to be buyer beware. 

Most individuals go looking for phones in these unorthodox places, in order to get a phone without the binding contract of the telecommunications provider. Phones without a contract are attractive since the SIM cards can be changed. This can be very useful especially if the user travels a great deal. While travelling with one country’s SIM card, calls tend to be very expensive because of the additional roaming charges. It is much more economical to have an unlocked phone when travelling. That way, when in a foreign country, it is possible to buy a temporary SIM card in that country and avoid running up huge bills on the mobile phone. 

Another reason individuals opt for second-hand phones is that they are significantly cheaper. Looking for a good deal is but natural, but in these cases the plan backfired. 

For instance, an individual purchased an iPhone clone over the Internet. The pictures clearly depicted a phone that looked very similar, but was not the iPhone. It had a few extra features listed in the specifications sheet, like an antenna for viewing television. When the package was received it was surprisingly light, lighter than the iPhone. It did not work at all, to the extent that it would not even turn on. The buyers finally decided to take apart the phone to see the workings inside, and perhaps hopefully fix the phone. However, much to their shock, the insides were filled with sand. It was put there, in between the panels, to give the impression of weight and to fool the buyers. 

There are many more instances of these kinds of phones. Invariably the clones are cheaper, not only in price, but also in quality. They mimic most of the phones almost identically in appearance, however the workings are severely diminished. 

Recently there is a G1 clone doing the circuit of the phone market. It has been made in China and looks practically identical to the Google Android handset. However it is missing a rather important detail – the slide out keyboard. The clone also seems to have copied the operating system, and not very well, which is ironic since Android is mostly open source. 

In short, buyers need to be very careful as to how they decide to buy their phones. This is not to say that there aren’t legitimately good offers available, but those are really few and far between.

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