Tech by VICE

A Counterfeit iPhone X That Doesn't Turn On and Does Nothing: The Motherboard Review

You can already buy something that looks like the iPhone X.

by Jason Koebler
Sep 7 2017, 6:59pm

Image: Danny Brothers

My new iPhone came in the mail last week. According to every rumor I've seen for the last six months, it looks and feels like an iPhone X. It's cherry red, has no home button, and has dual vertical cameras on the back. It's beautiful. It also doesn't do anything.

A few weeks ago, I became aware of a line of products called "dummy" iPhones. These are kind of like the floor model smartphones at early 2000s Best Buys—they are the shell of a phone but don't turn on, have functioning buttons, or do any of the other things phones do. iPhone repair professionals I follow had been sharing photos of the iPhone X dummy phones they'd bought from parts suppliers in China. I had to have one.

As I understand it, these mockups are made based on leaked iPhone schematics and are sold to accessories manufacturers in China who want to make sure their cases will fit the new iPhone on launch day (Mashable also saw one at a trade show). They're also available on a site called DHGate, a Chinese business-to-business wholesaler that is also open to the general public.

Image: Danny Brothers

If you search "iPhone 8 Dummy" on DHGate, you'll find a handful of devices; I decided to go with one that had the advertised with the sleek title "Free shipping for iPhone 8 Plastic Dummy Mobile phone model 1:1 Fake Mould Only for Display Non-Working Dummy iPhone8 model." I paid $40 for my fake iPhone plus $20 shipping; according to DHGate's transaction history, so did a whopping five other people in the United States. Since I received the phone, the price has dropped from $40 to $16, presumably because the new iPhone will be announced next week and the utility of a phone that does nothing drops appreciably.

Image: Jason Koebler

My iPhone 8 Plastic Dummy Mobile phone model 1:1 Fake Mould Only for Display Non-Working Dummy iPhone 8 model arrived in about a week from a place called VFD Qyle Guret Sheng Co Ltd. It didn't have Apple's famous packaging but it obviously wasn't cheap, either—it arrived in a tightly-packed and padded white box and it arrived safely to my office in Brooklyn.

Image: Danny Brothers

I opened the iPhone and it looks, to me, like what I expect the iPhone X to look like (which is of course the point). It's heavy (it's just a hunk of metal and plastic, I think), has the Apple logo on the back (putting this squarely in the "counterfeit" bucket), and says "iPhone" on it. It also says it was "Designed by Apple in Caldorued," which, after a quick Google, I confirmed is not a place anywhere on this Earth.

Image: Jason Koebler

For the last week I've been carrying my iPhone with me everywhere. It is better than my iPhone 7 Plus, because it serves as something of a pacifier for my smartphone addiction. It brings me the safety of carrying a large rectangle in my pockets at all times but comes without the stress of constant Twitter notifications, emails, and (lack of) iMessages. Also, I have made at least one friend by talking about this purchase in a social setting and letting them hold it.

It is the perfect phone. I highly recommend it. A++++ would buy again.

Update 9/12: When I bought this phone three weeks before the new iPhones were announced, I thought I was buying a dummy version of the iPhone 8 (and that's what it was sold as). In reality, the physical specs of the phone I bought matched that of the iPhone X. The headline and copy has been updated to reflect that.