Huaqiangbei Produces $150 ‘iPhone X’: 128G, Face Recognition, Wireless Charging

The iPhone X opens for pre-orders on October 27 and begins shipping on November 3. But a number of videos online appear to show users playing with iPhone X handsets on the subway.

The videos were uploaded to sharing platforms such as Xianyu and Zhuanzhuan, AI Caijing reported on October 23. The videos appear to demonstrate ‘iPhone X’ handsets for sale and in use before the official release.

Such units are top sellers on several big e-commerce and secondhand platforms and are priced from 1,000 to 2,000 yuan. Quality varies between vendors, and most price their products 500 yuan apart.

The counterfeit iPhone X handsets are mostly assembled in Huaqiangbei, Shenzhen. AI Caijing said such handsets have most of the iPhone X’s visual characteristics – an edgeless screen, no home button, vertical camera layout and iOS system icons – but their specifications and functions differ greatly from a real iPhone X.

Ming Su (pseudonym), a Xianyu user for 32 days, sells these fake “iPhone X” units for 1,699 yuan ($256): the phones come in black or gold and feature a 5.5 inch screen, 8 megapixel front camera, 16 megapixel rear camera, 8-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, 4GB RAM, and 64GB of storage.

Su said the phones use Qualcomm’s common Snapdragon processor instead of Apple’s proprietary A11. Given that the phone sells for less than 2,000 yuan, it can hardly be compared to the iPhone. Nevertheless, it has a relatively high performance to price ratio compared to similarly-priced phones.

But Li Zhao (pseudonym) noted 8-core phones are not necessarily faster than the iPhone’s 4-core processor. “iPhone’s processor is designed by Apple in-house. Its software and hardware have been optimized to have extremely high efficiency. Furthermore, the iPhone has embedded AI functions, which are far better than Qualcomm’s Snapdragon,” he said. Su’s phones also have a smaller screen than the 5.8 inch display of the real iPhone X. The front and rear cameras have a much higher pixel density.

Hao Qin (pseudonym), who is also selling fake iPhone X phones, told AI Caijing his phones have 80 percent of the functions of a real iPhone X, and a handset with 128G of storage costs 1,110 yuan. The phones support wireless charging, face identification, and have a higher processor speed. “It’s top-of-line speed, that’s for sure,” he said.

“Eighty percent of iPhone X’s functions have been cloned by Huaqiangbei, and the remaining 20 percent are rarely a concern for average users,” Hao said. The assembled cellphones Hao sells differ from real ones in their rear cameras. The iPhone has two rear cameras and Hao’s has only one: few manufacturers are able to make two rear cameras, he said.

Furthermore, the screen of assembled phone is made in China and is 1mm wider than a real iPhone X. It also has no VR functions. “But how often do ordinary users need this?” he said.

Hao emphasized it is hard to tell the difference between fake phones and real ones and praised Huaqiangbei’s cloning ability. “iPhone X will come out in November, but Huaqiangbei will make a lot of money from its copies phones. This is Huaqiangbei’s core competency.”

“Shipment costs 30 yuan and you can pay after trying it. We also accept returns. In Huaqiangbei, we never force a purchase,” Hao said.

Other vendors said the main difference between counterfeit phone’s and Apple’s own product is the operating system. “Apple’s iOS is a closed source system, and it is only available on a real iPhone. But the copies have most of the same functionality,” Hao said.

This article originally appeared in AI Caijing and was translated by Pandaily.