Sometime early tomorrow morning Beijing time, Apple will announce the iPhone 5. But if you want to buy one, you can get one right now in Fuzhou, and it will only cost you 300 RMB (about $46)! The downside — as if you hadn’t already guessed — is that they’re totally fake.
When Fuzhou authorities conducted a sudden sweep of electronics markets recently, they discovered vendors were already selling a number of cheap iPhone 5 knockoffs. The phones were being advertised prominently with signs saying things like “the all-new iPhone 5″ and indeed featured capabilities we haven’t yet seen in iPhones, including the ability to take two different SIM cards at once, and “data navigation” — whatever that means.
According to the Beijing Morning Post, the phones closely resemble an iPhone 5 — or at least some kind of iPhone — and they have the Apple logo printed on the back of the case just like real iPhones. It’s all a lookalike imitation, however, right down to the operating system. The phones apparently come from Shenzhou, but unsurprisingly inspectors found that whatever company manufactured them hadn’t marked the packaging in any way.
The inspectors confiscated 61 “iPhone 5s” in Fuzhou, but if they were so numerous there, they’re almost sure to be available elsewhere in the country too.
Meanwhile, Taobao shop owners have already started selling the “HiPhone 5″ (pictured). It’s available in four colors and runs around 150-300 RMB. In most cases, it’s labeled as an “imitation” — Taobao has rules about selling fake products — but in some cases the vendors are using actual photos of iPhones and employing other tricks like saying the manufacturer is 平果, which looks very similar and is pronounced exactly the same as Apple’s official Chinese name, 苹果.
Given that the real thing — which has yet to be announced, let alone released in China — will likely cost around 17 times what these imitation phones cost, we’d say that as ever, you get what you pay for. Apple lovers in China who just can’t wait to fork over some cash can preorder phones from any of the many retailers taking orders on Taobao.
Just stay away from the guys selling the HiPhones.