China. Home of the original Silk Road. Today, however, the country is into trading a different kind of good: the electronic knockoff. And no American company gets ripped off quite as often as Apple.
It’s not just their products, either. There are entire phony Apple stores peddling imitations of the company’s creations. So, as the tech world flocks to the Consumer Electronics Show this week, we decided to measure just how big the gap is between the counterfeit goods and the genuine articles. Ladies and gentlemen, here’s your guide to buying faux Apples.
i5s Goldphone by Pei Ming
This is arguably the best imitation iPhone on the market. It’s a spooky good clone that could probably fool your mom—otherwise, it’s complete garbage. Anyone familiar with the iPhone’s retina display will immediately notice the difference in pixel density, though this knockoff has been skinned with a rather convincing counterfeit iOS7—complete with a vomit-inducing parallax effect, triggered when you shift the phone in your hand.
At $127 (before shipping) this phone is a steal when you take into account that it comes complete with a 2M Lightning Cable ($29 at the Apple Store), 5W USB Power Adapter ($19 at the Apple Store) and a pair of EarPods ($29 at the Apple Store). So, if you’re trying to justify the purchase, you’re really looking at a $40 phone with $80 worth of premium accessories. You came for the fake phone, you stayed for the fake accessories.
PadMini by Chu Wi
It’s important to note that we thought we were buying a Yuandow Video 3G Phone Call Tablet and not this PadMini—but that’s just sort of a risk you take when you knowingly buy knockoffs on the gray market. Equally important to note: This isn’t a bad tablet by any stretch of the imagination. It’s got a completely serviceable version of Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) and a 1044 x 768 screen that’s every bit as good as the iPad Mini…if you’re talking about the original iPad Mini circa Halloween 2012.
Then there’s some stuff this baby’s got that the iPad Mini doesn’t. Just look at the ports on the bottom.
This flexibility does come with a price: comfort. All the little holes on the bottom of the device make it feel a bit like you’re holding onto a cheese grater—a sharp one.
AirBook Ultrathin 2 by Grefu
From where I stand this is the best value, full-feature laptop on the market. Sure, it doesn’t “close” so much as it “folds” and, yeah, it probably has more spyware than an NSA fruit basket. But, it’s cheap—very cheap—and that’s part of it’s charm.
The imagineers over at Grefu aren’t trying to pass this thing off as an Apple product, but they’ll be damned if they’re going to do any extra work. Everything from the packaging to the instruction book is directly lifted from Apple—but they’ve whited out the Apple name and logo as not to cause confusion.
It may feel a bit like the fake computers they put in furniture stores but, hey, the thing works and is not hard on the eyes at all. For $208 it’s a great choice, you know, for your middle child’s first PC.