With Apple’s new handsets going on sale Friday, experts are warning customers against buying fake and knock-off iPhone by highlighting some of the techniques criminals use to dupe them.
The Counterfeit Report explains what to look for when buying an Apple product, including the Designed by Apple in California stamp, and how to check the product is an official design using Apple’s services and warranty checker.
Fake iPhones and chargers have recently been linked to a spate of accidents as well as a death in China, where counterfeit Apple products are rife.
Believe it or not, nowadays, anyone can be easily fooled if you are not very careful when buying an iPhone. The replica or fake iPhone does really look like the real iPhone. You can’t easily distinguish the real deal from a fake iPhone. What I can really say about those manufacturers in the black market is that they are really getting better and better. However, buying the replica or fake iPhone can cause us, consumers, a lot then we can imagine – after a few months of using it. There are cases of malfunctioning iOS, unable to upgrade the firmware, loose or not working buttons, touch screen display issues, fake iPhone accessories, and worst class-A or low-standard iPhone batteries that might explode when overcharged. In the end, the most horrifying possible scenario is that you can’t ask an authorized Apple technician to fix your iPhone because it is not even an original mobile phone in the first place. You will end up going back to the black market and find someone who can fix your fake iPhone. So be wise and know how to check if an iPhone is original or fake.
Go to the official Apple page for the iPhone and look at the features and specs (see Resources). This will familiarize you with the device and help you recognize a fake one.
Compare the price of the iPhone to the retail price suggested by Apple. For example, the cheapest iPhone 5 retails for $199. Legitimate companies will rarely sell an authentic iPhone for much cheaper than retail price.
Study the seller’s return policy, warranty and customer reviews to determine whether he’s selling legitimate iPhones. A reputable seller of authentic iPhones should offer some type of return policy and at least a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Examine the packaging and compare it to the packaging from an authentic iPhone. Most fake iPhones come in packaging that looks completely different.
Look at the color of the iPhone. If it’s any other color than white or black, it’s probably a fake.
Search for the phrase “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China” on the back of the iPhone 7S. Authentic iPhones have this phrase, while fakes may not. Many fakes also print the hard drive size, such as 16GB, on the back of the device. Real iPhones won’t have this information printed there.
Inspect the iPhone for Penta lobe screws. Apple uses these screws in all iPhone models. Counterfeit iPhones usually don’t have this type of screw.
Look at the proximity sensor slot near the top of the iPhone. On a real iPhone, the sensor is solid black. On a fake iPhone, it’s a series of tiny dots arranged in a rectangle.
Try to unclip the back of the iPhone and locate an SIM card slot. If you see one, the device is likely fake. The real iPhone 7S has an SIM card tray located on the side of the device.
Check the iPhone’s serial number by going to “Settings,”General” and “About.” Some fake iPhones don’t have a serial number. If you see a number, go to Apple’s website (see Resources) and check it to make sure it’s real.
Try to launch the Siri app by holding down the “Home” button for a few seconds. If it doesn’t launch, the device might be fake. Strange and suspicious apps pre-loaded on the iPhone also indicate a fake.
If you have a friend who owns an iPhone, ask him to help you purchase yours. He may be able to recognize a fake more easily than you, especially if you’ve never owned or handled an iPhone before.
Avoid buying an iPhone online from a foreign website, especially a Chinese website. Many iPhone fakes are made and sold in China, so even if it looks like you’ll save money on the purchase, it’s risky to buy one from that country.