top of page

How to tell if an iPhone is fake

Have you ever had a stranger come up to you out of the blue and offer you a great deal on an iPhone 6?

If not yet, then you’re lucky you got to read this first. This will warn you about the growing pandemic of fake iPhones being peddled almost everywhere.

Unfortunately, fake iPhones aren’t always so obvious. In fact, they sometimes appear in seemingly legit online ads or real-world stores where a considerable number of trusting buyers are being ripped off daily.

Just how many fake iPhones are being sold in the country today is actually hard to determine. And Apple’s reluctance to discuss the issue doesn’t help the situation. Anti-counterfeit vigilantes think the problem is big…and growing.

So what do you do if and whenever you encounter a vendor of these phony phones?

A sharp eye and keen discernment will certainly augment our guards so we don’t end up being duped. For it really can be tricky, as there are actually varying kinds of fake iPhones.

The most difficult to spot are the ones that contain real Apple parts and run iOS but were actually real Apple parts and run iOS but were actually assembled from smuggled parts or from scrapped phones that had been sent out — usually to China —for recycling. Some reports point to several unscrupulous Chinese companies that actually have taken the path of copying iPhones even so crudely, taking motherboards from scrapped phones and putting them into cases from other scrapped phones or into new cases made to look like real iPhones. And they manufacture these fakes so well that they look remarkably like the real McCoy. But there are telltale signs, believe it or not.

For instance, if the person selling you the phone looks frantic to the point that getting rid of the phone seems to be his or her utmost priority, for as long as it makes a buck, then “dubious” should come to mind and raise your alertness already. On the other hand, cool, smooth-talking vendors who sell fake iPhones from a glass display or a merchandise shelf on a mall, will take some significant effort on your part to discern, as these are true-blue hustlers.

The Chop-chopped iPhone

If you have the chance to try out the phone, try to notice if the software response is slower than usual. This is normally happens when the motherboard is from an older model.

But there’s a surefire way to tell a fake. If you look at the back of an iPhone 6, you’ll see the phone’s electronic serial number — known as the IMEI (international mobile equipment station identity) —engraved in tiny print just under the iPhone logo. This is a unique serial number that identifies a particular phone. The IMEI can also be seen if you go to:

Settings >General > About

If those numbers don’t match up, you’ve got a phony.

Remember that this same number should also appear on the bottom of the box the phone came in. If the one on the box doesn’t match the one on the phone, it could be a mix-up by the store, but it could also mean it’s a fake. So better insist on getting a phone that matches its box.

Disquised Android

Counterfeiters also manage to build fakes by trying to disguise an Android phone as an Apple phone. These are usually easier to spot, but these fakes can really be convincing at times, as the cases can look very much like the real thing, and so can the display screens. But here’s how to be certain:

-First, try to summon Siri by pressing on the Home button; if she doesn’t answer, it’s either a defective iPhone or a fake. Then, check out the icons on the home screen: For example, if you see a Google Play app, it’s not an iPhone. Or try tapping the App Store icon. If it won’t go to Apple’s App Store, it’s not an iPhone.

-If still in doubt, check the serial number listing in Settings (just above the IMEI described above) and touch it until the word Copy appears, then press that. Next, in your phone’s browser, go to Apple’s online warranty checker. Touch the entry field there until Paste appears, and paste in the serial number. You’ll see what model of iPhone it is, along with its warranty status. If it’s a fake iPhone, you’ll see an error message. If it’s an iPhone that’s been assembled from salvaged parts, you should see that the serial number doesn’t match the phone in your hand.

Fake iPhones may also be a little thicker or not quite as heavy as the real thing. The screen resolution may be lower, and some build details may be wrong or inconsistent. They may have a SIM card tray that’s the wrong size (new iPhones use a nano-SIM), or the wrong kind of screws on the bottom holding the phone together (real iPhones use five-pointed screw heads).

Just remember: Not because you’re in a seemingly legit cell-phone store doesn’t mean the iPhone is genuine. To be really sure, stick with an Apple Store, a store belonging to a carrier, or an authorized retailer.

And, as always, follow the rule of thumb in scam avoidance: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

#Published in print version (Voice of the South, Volume 12, No. 9)

Voice of the South Newsletter delivered to your inbox

Subscribe for more informative news, inspiring stories and special offers.

bottom of page