How To Spot A Fake Android Phone! Differentiate Original Android Phones From Android Clones.

How To Spot A Fake Android Phone! Differentiate Original Android Phones From Android Clones.

So you are finally giving yourself a treat for your hard earned cash with an Android handset. Rest assured, with the hard hitting economy, you will be counting on saving a few bucks. You are thus somewhat hesitant to head over to an authorized original product dealer (tangible discounts are hard to come by here, I feel you on that!) So you decide get a better deal from some online resellers. You hoover around from Ebay to BestBuy, Craiglist to OLX or some other classified site in your locale and you bet you would definitely find a lot of deals on these sites for virtually all current mobile handsets (With so many Android releases nowadays, the dynamics spotting a fake Android phone easily have evolved)

Excited you are for sure, probably feeling some type of way about playing around with your new droid gadget. Somewhere in your epic thoughts, you can already see yourself diving into its awesomeness. Finally, your favorite choice is handed to you: probably the luscious HTC One M8, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Sony Xperia Z5, the attractive LG G3 or some other less familiar brand. Like the clever chap you are, you won’t gamble on your heard earned cash so you go ahead to confirm its working condition. You can sense the spell of class and exquisity laying on your hands as you inspect its details and boy does everything seem unmistakably on point! all too similar to the ones you saw on numerous Android review videos on YouTube or Phone arena. You glad to finally hit the bull’s eye that lured you quite a bit. At that point, you are ready to make your bank manager an annoyed lot, no doubt, after all it’s been quite a wait!

At this point, I wouldn’t want to be the one to spoil your merry party with doubt, certainly not! But I care too much for your welfare, so much so that it would break me to see you become a victim of fake Android phones. So hold your breath, take the back seat for a moment and you might just thank me later!

ALSO SEE:  A quick guide to buying your next Android phone. What to look for.

How to Avoid Buying Fake Android Phones

With the increased popularity of the Android Operating System, substandard and fake android phones are appearing in influx now more than ever. Every mobile maker worth their name is going Android. Manufacturers of cloned Androids handset have not been left behind either. They camouflage their products in brand names of top mobile phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, Sony, LG and other brands.

Poverty and falling economies are not solely to blame that many consumers cannot afford buying branded quality products from authorized original product resellers, opting for cheaper options elsewhere. But lack of technical knowledge or sheer ignorance by consumers when buying such goods does leave wide room for deceit. This largely leaves many consumers helplessly vulnerable to greedy sellers. This has created an unsafe market with endless loopholes for deceit and consumer manipulation which has now become a real crisis. Many consumers can therefore no longer protect themselves from fraudsters.

The ugly truth is that every day many unsuspecting buyers and novice Android users are being duped of their hard earned cash by being sold substandard handsets by greedy and ferocious sellers which is gross and disgusting.
I am overwhelmed by the number of concerns and experiences of tell tail victims of fake Android devices on social media. Many more seem lost on how to really make out the difference between genuine Android from the fake Android phones looming on our streets.
Here in Kenya, like in many other developing countries, substandard goods have found a safe dumping ground despite efforts by the government and mobile Telcos to cast out substandard mobile handsets. These gadgets mostly from China and Korea have continued to plague our retail stores like a bad omen.
If you are an Android user planning to buy a handset anywhere else but from authorized brand dealers, you can gladly avoid the possible anguish and disappointment of being a victim of substandard versions of the most popular Android handsets out there by the following this Self Tech Genius guide.
The following Android tests and work-a-rounds are intended to help you trump fake handsets and tell them apart from original android devices. Know what is real and what’s not and make an informed decision with your money!
As disturbing as it is, do not be fooled that some Android features on these Android clones could even surpass those found on original ones, they are still as inferior as they can get! Android is not a cell phone brand but an open source Linux based operating system. This means any developer with an interest – including you – can customize the hardware requirements of your device to work compatibly with Android operating system.
Many fake Android phones are made of cheaper and inferior hardware components to cut down on the manufacturing costs while still aping the glamorous look of the most popular original Android devices in the market. Most of these use the more less powerful Mediatek (MTK) processor chips and hardware which cannot handle heavy and continuous multiple processing tasks. This makes these devices largely sub per compared to original brands with powerful processors like Qualcomm Snapdragon, Krait, Exynos and such. Qualcomm vs Mediatek CPU chipsets performance benchmarks.

How to spot a fake Android phone. Differentiate original Android phones from Android clones.

METHOD 1:

Diagnostic configuration test for Original Samsung Galaxy devices: 

How To Spot A Fake Android Phone! Differentiate Original Android Phones From Android Clones.
This will work ONLY on Original Samsung Android devices.

  • Open the dial screen
  • Dial *#9090#
  • Almost all original Galaxy devices manufactured by Samsung will go to Service Mode when you dial this code.
  • You will see a ‘Diag Config’ menu like the one on the photo on the right side.
  • This is the configuration test for original Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets.

So far, among the many handsets that we have tested with this code,none of the ‘fake Samsung Galaxies’ has passed the configuration test. You will either get an error or no output results at all.
This test ONLY applies to original Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets.

METHOD 2:

CPU-Z Test for original Android Phones and Tablets (All Android devices)

For All Android devices regardless of manufacturer (HTC, Sony Xperia, LG, Samsung, Nexus, Motorola and any others. How To Spot A Fake Android Phone! Differentiate Original Android Phones From Android Clones.
CPU-Z has been the excellent system analyzer tool on windows, now available for Android. It fetches the system hardware component information from the sensors inside the hardware chips on the motherboard and displays what the hardware is really made off.

All you need to do is to download CPU-Z from Google Play store on the particular device being tested. Get Knowledge of the original device specs from Google or GSM Arena so as to do a comparison.

When you open CPU-Z, a wealth of your device specifications will be displayed like on these two photos. Now compare the specs displayed on CPU-Z with those given on GSM Arena website for the original model. Most of details should be as per.

Be particularly keen on the amount of RAM, type of system chip, CPU rated frequency, actual internal storage space and the number of cores (processors) on multi-core devices.
If you note a big disparity in specs that should raise an eyebrow. For instance, why would a 16GB device show merely less than 1GB of total internal storage space?

NOTE: The secret here is that any bogus hardware specifications that may not be obvious to you will definitely be revealed in CPU-Z results. For instance, if you are testing a premium device from LG, Samsung, HTC or Sony, the system hardware should most probably NOT show mt65xx e.g. mt6592 which is a Mediatek SOC chipset mostly found on low budget Android phones.

CPU-Z test so far has been the most effective and my most preferred method as it works well across all brands of Android phones and tablets. Thus, if you are ever unsure of what components make up your device, CPU-Z is your best bet. Other system analyzer tools exist on the play store as well.

Other Tests:

Careful here though as cloners have grown clever to put in the work to engrave every design and OS features to blend in like the original OEM product designs in many aspects. The following therefore is not solely solid proof but could help further.

Screen shot test:

As you probably already know most androids will allow you take a screen shot of your device display effortlessly. Try this by simply holding the Power button + home button at a the same time or Power button + Volume down at a go on Sony Xperia and LG and others. Many fake phones will probably fail miserably at this.

Camera Quality:

Most fake android phones will largely lack in picture quality, image crispness and sharpness since the camera component hardware will be made of low quality assembly.

On high end devices like The Galaxy Note series, HTC One, Galaxy S3 and S4, Sony Xperia and such, camera features like HDR, selective focus, dual flash, optical image stablization (IOS),sweep panorama and face recognition could be missing on their cloned handsets counterparts. So take a quick snap shot and see what you get.

LCD Test:

Try out an LCD display test which works on many androids. Dial *#0*# (For Samsung)

Design features:

The weight, architecture of the body bezel could raise an eye brow, so is suspicious software like Chinese bloatware instead of manufacturer stock firmware apps where the phone model is not made for Chinese market.

Lack of Smart Features:

Typical smart functionalities like USB host capabilities, fast charging, NFC could be missing. Particular features like Smart Stay, Air view and motion controls gestures on Samsung Galaxy phones, Smart notification on LG could also missing in the settings.

Strange Boot logo:

Except for devices with installed custom ROMs, lack original manufacturer logo when the device is booting up should definitely make you start asking questions.

No Recover mode:

If you are a more savvy user, try entering into android stock recovery menu. Power off the device, Hold together the power on + home + volume up keys simultaneously for 5 seconds when powering on the device. Android stock recovery menu will appear.
On cloned devices, the typical recovery menu options could be missing, flipped or non-functional. You might also note the Mediatek Logo appearing on the screen just before stock recovery appears.

Do A Factory Reset / Hard reset:

Go to Settings>backup and reset/factory reset >erase all. Device should restore and restart. Some of  these fake Android phones will reboot with a strange boot logo and even get a boot loop after a simple factory restore.

There are other possible hardware tests that could help you identify your device if you are familiar with the design and look of that particular device but those are few and far between from being a simple task especially if you have little knowledge about the design specifics to be able gauge a perfect comparison. So for the most part the above tests should be adequate to tell if what you are about to purchase is a deal or a hoax.

Finally, I had to mention this, don’t be misled to believe that a device IMEI number could help authenticate its genuineness (at least not solely by its own) and certainly not with Android where it’s more than possible to alter your device IMEI with a click of a button ( IMEI numbers get spoofed, Android IMEI get changed to blackberry IMEI, non-registered IMEI to valid IMEI and so on). While ideally good to check the device info on popular sites like www.imei.info , this should only help you add up to the correct theory, but no way a concrete way of validation per se.

When it comes to your money, you surely want to get best value for your investment and when deception looms wide, you can never be too careful with your hard earned cash!

Always remember the rule of thumb; “When the deal is too inviting, take a minute and think otherwise!” So go ahead and verify whatever that’s rocking in your hands at the moment!

Found this tutorial helpful? Share! Share! Share! and help some one else spot a fake Android phone!!!!!

Got some other effective method that we’ve not listed? Kindly feel free to tell it out in the comment box below. Got some questions? We will be glad to respond.

Happy Geeking!

Charles Kamara
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Charles Kamara

Charles is a PC technician, tech blogger, infopreneur and an avid reader. Writes about tech that interests him most and more importantly to his audience, he offers solid technical experience in easy DIY tech repair guides. A sociable geek who loves to experiment with gadgets.
Charles Kamara
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  • Christian

    Wow. Amazing article, very informative, concise and simple to understand. You’ll be saving a lot of people a huge amount of money and time by reading this. You can never be so sure now. My recommendation for everybody is: Even if you really want the latest phone and you don’t have enough money to buy it from a really reliable source (and I mean a REALLY REALLY reliable source like the brand store in a mall or something like that), don’t go looking for crazy discounts and “amazing low price offers”, simply save up or go for a phone within your budget. Be skeptical about everyone out there, you never know what’s going on, specially when they have lower prices than the markets. Don’t expect to get a 500USD phone for 399 or 349, there’s no salesman who would be looking for losing 100-150USD (I mean, if it was you the one selling it, you wouldn’t be doing that, right?). So unless you can buy it from an official store, be skeptical about everybody! There’s a lot of Korean am Chinese phones lately, that’s why you can’t be so sure, even if it seems like a “normal” $30 discount. It’s better to save 100-200 more dollars then to lose 400 or 500 on a useless brick.

    • Very true Christian,common sense is paramount and so many buyers misuse it when buying these handsets only to fall Victim of counterfeit products. It’s advisable to set some clear expectations for an original device before going out to make a purchase.