The tech market is filled with so many counterfeits. In this guide we look at ways to tell if that Smartphone, laptop, tablet or gadget is a fake.
Counterfeiting is a huge industry. Factories all over the world turn out electrical goods that look like the real thing but critically are not. Sometimes the same people in the same factories make goods that are genuine, and goods that are counterfeit.
You might think a good fake is worth having but in almost all cases you would be wrong. Even leaving aside the moral implications of buying fakes, when it comes to tech devices such as Smartphones, tablets and laptops, buying a fake is never a great idea.
You have no idea what you are purchasing, it is unlikely the product will be of the same class as the one you wish to buy, and you won’t get proper support if (and when) things go wrong. While counterfeit tech can be dangerous, it is a bad investment as well.
With that in mind, here are five things to consider when you think you may be purchasing a fake. If any of these tests run up a red flag, run a mile.
This is the one thing you can check with confidence before you purchase, even if you are buying online. There are all sorts of reasons why you might see a staggeringly low price for a phone, tablet, laptop or any gadget. The trouble is none of those reasons are good.
You can find a bargain, of course. But if you see a phone or a laptop being sold at less than half the price for which it is retailing elsewhere, be alarmed. It could be stolen, or a grey-market import on which tax has not been paid (and for which you may be charged). You may be ripped off by a dodgy retailer, or it could quite simply be a fake.
Always purchase from a reputable vendor, which has a physical street address. Always use a credit card when spending more than N100,000.00 especially for security reasons. And always query a deal that looks outstandingly good. If it looks too good to be true, it is. Be warned you can buy fakes from even the biggest resellers, such as Konga or Jumia.
- Build and design – performance
Generally speaking fakes are easy to spot. They may even be manufactured in the same place as the genuine article, but the makers are doing something to get the price down. Usually this relates to the materials and components used.
If you are at all unsure about a device, you need to get your hands on it. As with most cases, the UI of fakes are not the same with the original, and quoted specifications do not usually match the product, just like, Samsung outside, Tecno inside.
Pick up a phone, tablet, laptop or gadget. A fake will likely be surprisingly lightweight. Check the edges and joins, or any manufacturer badges. Look for shoddy workmanship, substandard materials. Fight the urge to accept the bargain, and remain skeptical. If it doesn’t feel quite right, it isn’t.
Finally, boot up the device (if you can). Use it. Get a feel for it. For example, a fake phone or laptop will likely have software that is at best pirated, and at worst a shoddy copy of the software it is supposed to run.
We know you will be more inclined to buy a fake product online, but if you have the chance to try it before buying, then it is always good to test.
- Product code, details and features
Even if you cannot get hold of the product you consider purchasing, you can make sure you are buying what you think you are buying. The trouble with this is that an online retailer that is happy to sell a fake will likely not balks at lying about its specs on its website. But you should check closely for anomalies. The same retailer is unlikely to be the smartest on the block.
Compare the specs of the product you are considering with the specification published by the manufacturer. Find the manufacturer’s product code and check that against the sales listing. Look up the IMEI for a phone and get details on how this fits into the legitimate list.
You can catch a fake by something as simple as it being the wrong colour, or even the wrong size. And look at the features list: for example, if the phone you are buying has only one camera, and the product you think you are buying has two, something is wrong.
Another thing to look out for here is accessories and updates. If your product has no plug adaptor it may be a grey-market import, or it could be a fake. Either way you should pause before buying.
This is similar to point three, but a simple and surprisingly effective test. If the product is not meant to be available in a particular location, how is the vendor selling it to you? This is tricky because often the impetus behind your interest could be the rarity of the product or the version of the product you think you are getting. But stop and think about it.
It could be a fake, it could be a dodgy import, and it could be a scam site. If it looks like you are buying a product you should not be able to buy, the likelihood is there is something wrong with the deal.
One final check that is always worth carrying out is to look into the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty. If you are buying electrical goods and the product and deal are legitimate, you should get a manufacturer’s warranty. Where the warranty should promise replacement with a named product or repair if the product you are buying breaks.
None of these tests is in itself foolproof. But taken together they offer a reasonable safeguard against purchasing a fake. The key thing is not to allow yourself to be fooled: if any of these aspects seem wrong, abort your mission. Avoid the urge to binge-buy; purchase in haste, repent at leisure.