/ Shopping, Technology

Have you ever been fooled by an iFake?

As Christmas edges ever closer, many of us are on the hunt for that elusive bargain. However, sometimes what we think is a good deal can turn out to be a cheap copy of the real thing.

Although you might not realise it at the time, buying a cheap iPhone or iPad could mean you’re actually buying a fake. There are ways to tell if the product you’re buying is genuine or not, and you can visit our Which? Tech Daily blog or watch the video below for some pointers.

The traditional setting for buying fake goods used to be a car boot sale, the market or a dark back alley. But these days, it’s possible to buy fakes from a wide range of places online – even reputable sites like Amazon and eBay are at the mercy of what their third-party sellers offer.

You might purchase a fancy new pair of headphones or a smartphone in good faith online, only to be sent a shoddy replica.

I don’t want a replica

It would be fair to say that the standard of fake goods varies immensely. The counterfeit iPhones we got hold of looked pretty convincing, while the iPad version (dubbed ‘iRobot’) looked more like a childs toy than a cutting edge tablet. The inclusion of an Apple logo on the case didn’t do much to convince us that it was the real deal.

Both the iPad and iPhone used an Android operating system, and actually worked… after a fashion. However, they would be little substitute for Apple’s own genuine devices.

Some products did a remarkably good job at imitating their official versions. The Nintendo DS Lite fake was virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, and even worked in the same way, happily playing DS games like we would expect it to.

However, unlike the real product, it hadn’t been subjected to the rigorous safety tests before being sold in the UK. As such, you’d be unlikely to want to put in the hands of your child.

Can you get your money back?

Aside from the safety aspect of buying knock-off technology, and the lack of function, there’s also the cost. If you do find that you have unwittingly purchased a fake, the chances of a refund are pretty slim.

But it’s not all bad news. If you purchase the product using a credit card, your credit card company will protect the purchase if it’s over £100. Not much comfort if you paid cash to someone at a car boot sale though.

Have you ever unknowingly bought a fake product? If so, where did you buy it from? Did you get your money back?

How confident would you be at spotting a good fake gadget?

I'm quite knowledgeable about tech and could take an educated guess (30%, 51 Votes)

I wouldn’t know an iPhone from an iPhoney (30%, 51 Votes)

I dabble with tech, so I'm not sure I could spot a good fake (19%, 32 Votes)

I'm a tech expert and could spot a fake a mile off (15%, 25 Votes)

I don't know (7%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 171

Loading ... Loading ...

Personally I don’t buy the “latest” gadgets as I don’t fancy being an unpaid tester. Now if they want to give me a free ithis, ithat for me to test for them. Or even pay me to test then that’s a different story. Just like I’m not impressed with the which? xmas cut back comp, clearly I’m a free tester for that, it doesn’t support Google chrome.


Eek! Sorry if you’re having problems with the comp, William. It works OK for me in Chrome but if you can give me a bit more detail about the problems you’re having I’ll see if I can tweak to fix it!

In the meantime, I don’t want anyone to miss out on the chance to join in so if you want to email your submission to which.campaigns @ which .co.uk I’ll add you into the draw.

Update: I’ve just worked out what you mean – it’s an issue with how our CMS reacts to Chrome in this situation. I’m getting it fixed but in the meantime here’s a link that should work for you in Chrome:


Sorry about that!

Mobile Manufacturers says:
7 December 2011

Mobile phone manufacturers have put together a website to help educate consumers on how to “spot a fake” at http://www.spotafakephone.com. It also includes information on what to look out for when buying batteries and other accessories.


Thanks I found the code in the webpage, it does work fine with ie 8 though, 3 cheers ( for once) for Microsoft.


There are huge numbers of fake memory cards out there, which physically look pretty much idetnical to the real thing.

i’ve found it very risky to buy memory from amazon marketplace and ebay – i’ve had more fakes than genuine cards. worth paying a bit extra for a reputable seller.
if i am allowed to recommend one 7dayshop.com is pretty cheap and always genuine (though delivery isn’t very fast)

David Thomas says:
10 December 2011

My wife believes that she was taken in by a fake item – me! She has been getting her money back ever since.


Yes, I was taken in by an advert on eBay. “Genuine Sony laptop battery” shown with a photo of a genuine Sony battery – but in reality was a poor copy which arrived a month later direct from Hong Kong with no resemblance even to the Sony product. Pursued with PayPal as the credit card company but they found in favour of the rogue trader because they insist that they will only consider a claim if you get “expert” sworn statements from Sony within a very short timescale to the effect that it is not genuine – and of course nobody is prepared to do that for you. Photographic evidence of the 2 products is not accepted. Discovered PayPal’s “Customer Protection” to be absolutely useless and ineffectual and in itself misleading. So the moral is to always pay top price from a main dealer.


Thanks for sharing this information, Kev. It seems incredible that you were treated in this way, but I am not surprised. Perhaps if enough people report problems the rogue trader will be closed down. I hope others have had more success in pursuing claims.

You need to be very careful with laptop batteries because even genuine ones can have safety issues and there have been a few recalls because of overheating.


I bought a laptop power adapter from an eBay trader with a good reputation. The photo showed an Apple product and what I received was very different. The mains plug had no fuse, so I replaced i