Reviews, Technology

How to Spot a Fake iPhone 4S (revised)

I’d like to give you a few tips, if you are looking to buy an iPhone 4 or 4S abroad. Maybe you want to buy it through a friend or website selling second-hand products? I’ve often seen people pay either the full price (or very close to the retail price) for iPhone knock-offs. Here I will attempt to educate the ignorant and clear up the details.

This post is a re-working of the previous post I did which caused a lot of debate (partly because I supplied a few incorrect details.) I have broken it up into two sections namely Hardware and Software differences. I’ll refrain from showing the fake I was handling, but rather talk about the nuts and bots of it all. Before I go on… there are two definite ways to spot the difference:

  1. Does the iPhone in question plug into iTunes and transfer information seamlessly?
  2. (Provided you are certain you have an original iPhone with you at the time). Compare the response time of both retina displays. This is everything from the loading time of the applications, the response time of the Home Button, and the fluidity of the applications moving when you slide your finger to the left or right of the screen.
    • A simple example I often use is to display a picture (in the photos app) on each phone. Hold the both phones in portrait view (not necessarily at the same time), then briefly rotate each phone to the landscape view (i.e. turn it from a vertical to a horizontal position.) What you are looking for is the time it takes each picture to spin from portrait to landscape. For the most part the phony iPhones take a lot longer due to the software being different, and most likely the design of the three-axis gyro is pretty poor.

NOTE: For the sake of additional confusion, when I refer to the iPhone 4S I am also talking about the iPhone 4. Both phones have a few differences if you look with the naked eye. When it comes to the physical look and feel of both phones (putting the retina display and 8 megapixel camera aside) they are identical. Put it this way… if I were to turn off both the 4 and the 4S and place them down beside each other. There is only one small give-away that tells you which is the 4S and which isn’t. If you know the answer to this fact, please post it in the comments field. I want to continue to stay on the initial topic.


Hardware Differences

Micro-SIM Tray

Surprise surprise. The iPhone doesn’t take an ‘old size’ SIM card. This means you have to trundle off to you mobile (cellular) service provider and get a new and smaller SIM card. Don’t be a self-righteous ninja and cut the SIM card you already have, to fit into the smaller tray. Not many people get it right, and also if you do you are more likely to jam the SIM tray and cost yourself more money. In my experience it takes far less time and frustration getting the correct size SIM card, than dealing with a home-made MacGyver job that won’t last forever.

If the back of the phone (the part that isn’t the screen) unclips and allows you to insert a SIM card, it is definitely a fake. The iPhone 4S has a micro-SIM tray on the right hand side of the device that pops out (Assuming that the phone is facing you head on with the home button – the round one with the square on it – being at the bottom of the screen).

Rear End

This is the part of the iPhone that is directly behind the screen. With certain counterfeit models, the back of the phone will have a small rectangle showing the size (in Gigabytes). You will never see this on an iPhone 4S. All iPhone 4 and 4S models don’t tell you the hard drive size. The only two ways to tell is to look on the back of the box it came it (provided the box isn’t counterfeit aswell), or go to Settings > General > About and this will tell you the capacity of your device.

Packaging

If you do get an iPhone from a dubious source (i.e. not from an Apple Store, or an authorized reseller) then you need to scrutinize the packaging. If the owner of the phone only hands you the phone, insist on examining the box it came on.

I’ve done this myself out of interest’s sake, and often some telltale signs emerge. The box may say iPhone 4S, and even have the picture of it. When you turn over the (phony) box you will even see someone has had time to print the specifications.

Turn it over again and carefully examine the picture. Often if it’s a hasty job done by a laser-jet printer the image will be slightly pixelated and blurry. Upon looking at the specifications again look at the sharpness of the font. Check the alignment of the information on the rear-end of the box. A few times I’ve seen that the information has been printed out, but whichever tried to fake it, stuck the serial number, model number, IMEI number, etc on skew.

Universal Dock

If you’ve owned any iPod in the past you’ll notice it’s the fat piece that plugs from the bottom of the device into a docking station or into your computer. (The cable that plugs from the bottom of your iDevice into the USB port of a computer is sometimes called a Sync Cable. If you are familiar with the one end of the Sync Cable, then you may be familiar with the port on the iPhone I’m talking about.) Take the iPhone 4S you’re about to buy and make sure it fits into a docking station. If you’re unsure about this, ask a friend for a iPod cable and make sure it plugs into the bottom of the device.

Software Differences

Retina Display (screen)

The term ‘retina’ display you’ve heard a lot of if you’ve been researching or just following Apple products in general. This is a fancy way of saying that the clarity and sharpness of the resolution is ultra high, and mind-blowing. The screen on the fake iPhone 4S is smaller in physical size.

I found that the interface wasn’t very responsive to my finger. I haven’t included a picture of the interface, but I found it took at least 3 seconds before the interface responded to touch. (This was an experience of a poorly thought out replica.) Take time to play with the applications. The apps should launch pretty much 0,25-0,5 seconds after you’ve pressed it. Less technical people would call this instantaneous.

Camera

If you can, also test out the camera. Remember the iPhone 4S has both. Test them. Take a picture. View it. Make sure you can zoom in on it about halfway, without the picture being distorted or grainy. If you’re smart you’ll email that picture to yourself and examine the quality.

Keep in mind that this article contains many technical aspects and gestures the seller may not allow you. Whenever I’ve bought something shitty, most of the time it’s because I rushed into it. Check and double check all the details of the phone.

Apps

Sometimes people leave apps and other personal information on their phones. This is tiresome if you want to start using it, and Aunt Maggie keeps popping up in your contacts. If you have already discovered the iPhone is authentic, ask the previous owner to wipe the iPhone clean.

There are two easy ways to do this.

  • Plug it into iTunes and click Restore (under the Summary tab).
  • On the iPhone go to:

Settings > General > Reset (located at the very bottom) > Erase All Content and Settings

Conclusion

Do your research. Many mistakes are made when the consumer fails to look into a product enough. This is most essential when it comes to technology. You don’t want to be stuck with a toaster that’s talking to you in an Middle Eastern dialect, it’s about time you use Dear Google or RTFM.

PhilosopherPoet

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9 thoughts on “How to Spot a Fake iPhone 4S (revised)

  1. For those people inquiring above re: MMS equally sending and receiving, go
    to the Tmo forums and/or the macrumors forums. I followed the
    steps that include applying ibackupbot and altering a file with it.
    It absolutely was actually fairly simple and this is coming from an
    individual who is aware zip about this sort of detail.

    So, sure, you are able to get almost everything doing
    work within the 4S on Tmo with no jailbreaking it (except,
    I believe, visual voice mail.) I use mine on wifi to the most part but EDGE
    is just not genuinely that slow when i have to go on it.
    I absolutely love that I can possess the 4s with no contract and this is
    an acceptable tradeoff for me.

  2. Theguywhowrotethis says:

    The only visible difference between the iPhone 4 and 4S when both are turned off is the metal rim around the phones, otherwise known as the attenaes. The iPhone 4 has a black line (otherwise known as the connection between the antennas) next to the 3.5mm headphone jack whereas the 4S doesn’t. The 4S has four black lines on the attenae, two on each side of the phone.

  3. LJ says:

    Thanks for the article. Very informative indeed. Please continue to update it as there are more and more fakes that look more real each day emerging from the market.

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