Fake phones flood our markets


Have you ever been duped, lied to or taken for a granted. I highly prioritise value for money.

Whatever that I pump my hard earned currency into, has to bring me real value. Personally I have no problem seeing people spending their own money lousily because they have decided to do so, but it’s one thing to dupe someone into buying fake cellular phones disguised as originals.

In Harare, fake phones have currently inherited lighter terms like imitates, clones, duplicate or Chinese but forgive my articulacy, I will call a spade a spade, they are just fake!

Simply because most phones from China are fake, does not mean all Chinese phones are fake. Nokia has an official plant in China that fully adheres to international standards.

To clear this controversy, a fake phone is that which masquerades as a brand that it’s not. Typical example is a Shanzhai selling itself as an iphone.

When you buy a Shanzhai phone clearly marked Shanzhai, then certainly that phone is original and not a Shanzhai. Why would you buy a phone ambushing Nokia by labelling its product Nokla.

There are many good competitive brands out there like G-tide and they are clearly marked G-tide, go ahead and buy such and get yourself a free loud volume bonus!

The main reason why I recommend such is because companies like G-tide Zimbabwe are proud of their own products and do have backup support to them.

They know they are selling something legit and are fully answerable. Their phones may not be as good as Nokia in as much as Samsung is not as good as Sony ericsson.

These products vary in quality performance and pricing. Other products which have come out open to our Zimbabwean market in their real colours are smadel,c-link,tnm and many more.

After silently watching fellow brethren being victimised in broad daylight by cunning roadside, Ximex Mall vultures, I have thoughtfully given time to unmask this trick and empower the ordinary man on the street.

The big question I will try to answer is how do you distinguish a fake phone from an original and I will start with the most obvious quick ways to verify.

Low price of any original NoKia, iphone, HTC, Blackberry or 3g enabled phone should be the first sign to raise suspicion. If it’s really that good then it definitely can’t be that cheap.

The second sign should be lighter weight. Original phones weigh a little more than most of these fake phones, they weigh just too light to be real, especially if you have once lifted the original one.

Original Nokia phones come with a limited warranty sticker usually blue in colour, if you are buying it off from the box.

This will also ship in with a Nokia care tamper proof warranty sticker at the back of the phone or just close to the sim slot. Original Nokias also ship in original batteries with hologram showing “original enhancements” or a Nokia “connecting people” logo, if you slant the battery you should be able to see 1,2,3,4 dots when you angle the hologram left right,up and down respectively.

If somehow it has passed through these initial stages try switching on the phone, if it is a Nokia you should be a familiar with Nokia start up tone which flows along with the two hands really joining themselves to affirm handshake, most fake phones do not actually complete the handshake, the start up tone times dies up before the handshaking is complete.

Another check during start up is the time it takes before it completely starts up. Most fake phones turn to take longer time before they are ready to use.

Original platforms run the same font and icons across their different products. Most fake Chinese phones ship in with a unique font or main menu.

This new font is usually too crystal clear to pick and for some reason I really don’t know why these fake phones misspell their brands at one point or the other, no professional phone company would sell a phone with a series of misspelt words.

Dual sim facility is definitely one feature I appreciate. I have lots of phone numbers to my name and I would love to comfortably pocket all simcards in one phone.

To date there are only two original Nokia types which support dual sim thus the Nokia C1-00 and C2 anything else trust me it’s fake unless it was unleashed this week.

3G-marked phones should be able to browse the internet at such speeds not gprs or less, Econet is now offering full 3g functionality.

Most of the designs support a 3.2 megapixel camera including the fake ones but here is the catch, no fake camera can take a photo of 400kb size and above it’s usually up to a maximum of 200kb in full lightning conditions.

The best, long but fool proof way is to get the IMEI (serial number), all nokias will display version information if you type *#0000#, from the main screen press *#06# this should give you a 15 digit IMEI number like 359810015898348.

This number should be the same with the one printed in the inside back of any phone. If you are still in doubt for Nokia phones the last digit of your IMEI is going to be your check digit so you won’t include it in this calculation.

Press *#06# and get your serial number 359810015898348
Add up all the odd numbers, the first, third, fifth… thus in my case 3+9+1+0+5+9+3=30
Now for the even numbers multiply each number by 2 and sum up their total
(if you get a 2 digit answer treat the answer as separate digits eg 5*2= 10 thus 1 + 0=1)
5+8+0+1+8+8+4, …(5*2)+(8*2)+(0*2)+(1*2)+(8*2)+(8*2)+(4*2)
Now add the even +odd: 30+32=62
Round the answer off to the nearest ten and subtract the sum :62 rounded off is 70.

70-62 =8 that is our last serial number check digit.
This might seem like a very tedious way but when you try it once you will prove its easy and can be committed to memory and so far the imitators have failed to go this extra mile.

If you really care about the product you are buying, then you do your part and go the extra mile to safeguard your currency.

Toneo Ndebele Rutsito is a compTia hardware, cisco certified network engineer and linux administrator.