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The iClone Shootout – five iPhone phonies, a camera, and some interesting conclusions

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Ladies and gentlemen, in the blue corner the world famous iPhone, iconic symbol of democracy and the new millennium. And in the red corner, China. Yep, 1.3 billion souls beavering away in factories to destroy civilisation as we know it and trash our treasured way of life. OK, enough already. So I thought it would be interesting to check out a sample of five iPhone clones to see whether they are worth your time, money and pocket space. The results were unsurprising in some ways and rather interesting in others…

A8plus2

Desay A8+ – £104.95. Nice box, shame about the buttons…

·  Dual Band GSM 900/1800, Sim free, Unlocked for UK, Europe and Australia
·  3.2 Inch 16:9 TFT Screen (320×240 resolution)
·  Supports Smart Map (User Uploadable)
·  Dual Sim card slots (Only 1 sim is active at any time)
·  High Sensitive Touch Screen
·  MP3 Music Player: Play your favorite MP3 music anywhere anytime
·  MP4 Movie Player: Play Stereo 3GP/MP4 Movies
·  WAP/GPRS/MMS/SMS Enabled (surf the internet via GPRS)
·  0.3MP Camera  + PC WebCam + Video Recording (Camcorder) with sound
·  Digital Voice Recorder
·  4 In built Games
·  Handwriting Recognition

A8pluspack

What do you get? 2 x 1000 mAh batteries and 2 x SIM card slots. 90 page Chinese manual, USB charging and headphone socket in one, separate lock button.

In Use. Not the most sophisticated of the clones, but then again at this price what do you expect? The UI throws up fake Windows Mobile operating system splash screen for some reason, and although it’s got pretty icons it’s not really iPhone comparable at all. For example press the green call button and you get the call history instead of being able to make a call. And don’t even think of trying to use this to access voice prompt services, as I couldn’t resurrect the touch keypad during a call at all. Good voice quality and loudspeaker quality though. The 0.3 megapixel camera is dire.

Conclusion. Not really a prime time contender, more like a garage sale knock off. And who speaks Chinese around here anyway…?

iPhone Cred Score – 3/10

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A8

 Next – how not to treat your handset interface…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

168plus2 

CECT P168+ – £107.95. Naff box, interface, what interface…?

·  Flow Touch Screen – Slide to Unlock (just like the iPhone)
·  Comes with a Free 256MB Transflash (Micro SD) Storage Card
·  Unlocked Quad-band Phone (850/900/1800/1900 Mhz) for Worldwide GSM   Support (850 Mhz optionally supported but untested)
·  Built-in Bluetooth
·  Dual SIM card slots (both SIM cards aren’t active and online at the same time but they can be switched without turning off the phone)
·  Comes with a spare lithium battery so you don’t have to worry about power
·  Ring tones Type: Polyphonic (64 channels), Monophonic, True Tones, MP3
·  Music player: Support MP3 player,with mp3,midi,wav format
·  Movie player: Support 3GP/MP4 movie player with full-screen
·  Camera function: Digital Camera Built-in with video recording capability with sound

168pluspack

What do you get? Free 256 MB microSD card, 2 x SIM slots, 2 x 1800 mAh batteries, 26 page manual in English, Bluetooth, magnetic box catch, 2.0 megapixel camera.

In Use. There’s that darn goldfish again. Unfortunately the rest of the interface is a right dog’s dinner. Unintuitive, confusing and with a touch screen that leaves a lot to be desired. In fact thump screen would be more accurate. Again, the voice quality on calls and internal speakers are good and Bluetooth is pretty useful in a pinch. The camera is OK, but again nothing to shout about, especially for 2.0 megapixels.

Conclusion. Slightly better feel to the handset doesn’t mask the fact that it’s a pale pretender to the iPhone crown. Nice music player.

iPhone Cred Score – 2/10

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168plussetrear2168plussetscreen2

168

Next – big, blousy but with a heart of gold…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

 

M8882

Desay M888 (plus Gamepad) – £129.95. Chunky, loud but actually not that bad…

* Network Frequency: GSM 900/1800MHz (All UK & Europe Networks except “Three”)
* Languages: English, Simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese (English is the Default language when shipped)
* LCD Size: 3.2 inch, Touchscreen, 262k colors, 240x320px
* Ringtone: 64 chord midi, mp3, wav, wma, amr;
*Incoming Call: MP3,MP4 (video), jpg and animated gif options.
* Dual loudspeakers – Very Loud!
* Video:  MP4,  3GP, Full-screen play, supports full 320×240 resolution, forward and pause (unlike the P168 & A380 that only supports 176×144)
* Music: MP3 with equaliser
* Camera: True 2.0 Megapixel with night mode

M888pack

What do you get? 2 x 1270 mAh batteries (sensing a trend here are we?) but just a single SIM slot. 62 page Chinese manual, free 256 MB microSD card and a GameBoy and NES emulator with full gamepad option. It even comes with 10 GameBoy Color games pre-loaded.

In Use. Man, that speaker system is loud. You could broadcast town hall meetings on this puppy and deafen the front row. As with all the clones, the MP3 player is pretty good all round, nice controls, etc. A bit clunkier than the other clone handsets but at least the interface is logical and pretty, and closer to the iPhone standard. Great voice quality again, and the only handset with an external memory slot, so presumably supports hot swapping. 

Conclusion. For the price, and bearing in mind the GameBoy compatibility, this is a pretty nice bargain. It’s never going to impress the smooth arty creeps with black roll neck sweaters, but hey, you’re above all that rubbish anyway right?

iPhone Cred Score – 4/10

M888setM888setrear

M888

Next – this clone of a clone does OK as a phone, not so good as an iPhone…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

A380i1

A380i – £139.95. Phone is pretty OK, shame about that interface again though…

· Dimensions: 110 x 53 x 13mm
· Weight: 93g
· Screen: 3.0 inch TFT Touch Screen
· Ringtone: 64Poly / MP3 Ringtone
· WAP/GPRS/MMS/SMS Enabled
· Built-in Speakers
· Computer Connection: Support Window XP, No CD or driver is required
· Power: 180-300 mins Talk Time, Up to 150hrs hours standby Time

380ipack

What do you get? 2 x 1600 mAh batteries, 2 SIM sockets, 102 page manual in English, 1.3 megapixel camera, e-book reader software, BMI and Menstrual calculator, Bluetooth and a ringone maker. Ironic as this sounds, this appears to be a clone of the A8+ (or maybe the other way round?) but with a better camera. A clone of a clone, what were they thinking? Anyway, the A8+ comes in a nicer box.

In Use. Why do we think they grabbed the iPhone icons and slapped them on the interface without thinking about their meaning? Because this is another clone with icons that don’t make sense, that’s why. Click on the maps icon and you get…yep, fun and games. The clock icon gives you user profiles, and the green phone icon pops up the contacts book. Yuk.

Conclusion. A nice slim line size and pretty icons. Feels solid in the hand, nice audio and again a pretty good phone for the price. But as an iPhone clone? No thanks.

iPhone Cred Score – 3/10

A380isetA380isetrear

380i

Next – wow, at last a clone that does the genre justice…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Hiphone2

i32/HiPhone – £149.95. About as good as they get right now…

· Dimensions: 116 x 61 x 15.8mm
· Digital camera and Video camera
· Screen: 3.2 inch TFT Touch Screen
· Motion sensor & ‘Shake’ facility
· Super sensitive Touchscreen with picture zoom function using fingers
· Ringtone: 64Poly / MP3 Ringtone
· WAP/GPRS/MMS/SMS
· Built-in Speakers
· Computer Connection: Support Window XP, No CD or driver is required
· Power: 180-300 mins Talk Time, Up to 150hrs hours standby Time

Hiphonepack

What do you get? 2 x 1200 mAh batteries, 2 x SIM sockets, 95 page English manual, 1 x 512 MB MicroSD memory card, Bluetooth, multitouch screen and accelerometer for auto-rotating media.

In Use. Hmm…well if you want iPhone clone, this is without doubt the closest you’ll get right now. Almost identical form factor (just around 4mm thicker, due to the battery probably), an interface which is super useable and full of iPhone friendliness, and a feature set which gives great value all round. The auto-rotating video and photos, the multitouch to zoom in and out of images, the accelerometer ‘shake’ to advance a music track, it’s all people poser power in your pocket folks. Even the little Apple logo when it starts up. Oops, should we mention that?

Conclusion. Well we’ve got to say that this handset is so close as to be almost indistinguishable from the real iPhone in many ways. In fact, I think I can hear the sound of Apple’s legal team beating down the path to Shenzhen as we speak. But do remember folks, this is close in the same way that a VW Phaeton is close to a Mercedes S600. They’re both German, well built and fully featured…but…! Anyway, do check out the video.

iPhone Cred Score – 6/10 (would have been higher but for the truly naff camera)

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Hiphone1 (3)

Next – so, what conclusions can we make from this…?

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Tripleboxshot

 

Overall conclusion. It pays to remember that all the clones are massively cheaper than the original but still come with features that the iPhone doesn’t. They’re all totally SIM free and unlocked and all but one have dual SIM slots. You can upgrade the memory and…cough…the battery. On top of that they sport touchscreens (of very variable quality it has to be said), music, video/voice recording, in fact the feature set on these devices is very impressive for the price. Oh yes remember the price, won’t you? Tying you into an 18 month contract really makes the iPhone a rather expensive proposition in comparison with the general handset market.

Skinnygroup

BUT, and it’s a huge but, the clones simply do not – YET –  have that special something that comes with a real iPhone. The gorgeous, non-reflective, bright and sensitive screen, the super slim form factor, solid heft and stylish interface that has revolutionised the mobile phone market. And above all, they’re not Apple products, so there’s no Mac connectivity, no WiFi, no iTunes integration, no wonderful Safari web browser which is without doubt the best browser experience on a mobile phone to date. The clones also run a propietary motherboard/operating system which won’t allow you to install new applications, which is definitely a huge minus point if you’re aiming for the smartphone market.

Groupbox2 

But what really surprises me is just how far the clones have come in such a short time. The HiPhone may not match the real thing in many ways, but in others it’s right up there as a top notch phone in its own right. For example, who would have thought that multitouch screens would hit the no-brand devices in under 9 months? Not me. If this rate of progress continues, it’s not going to be very long before the clones out-pace the master, and at a price point per feature that makes real sense. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more…

In the meantime, here are some more comparison photos of the master next to its pretenders. Enjoy!
Iphonebox2Iphone

The iPhone. (do note the smeary screen, after only a short time of use!)

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The iPhone vs HiPhone.

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Below – the iPhone vs The Rest

Twobox168Twobox380

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(Thanks to Digital Play World for the clone handsets and 02 for the iPhone loan.)

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Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


11 Comments

  • Holy carp Red! Did you really spend 700 quid to do a dodgy iPhone-knockoff comparison??? If so, WHY? Oh and thanks, the world needs this kind of thing. :D

    Just on a side note, and perhaps I’ve been using Nokia cameras for too long, but the camera quality of the real iPhone really isn’t that good. It’s not terrible, but the image is soft and the edges are quite bad.

    But what do I know/care, iPhones aren’t coming to Australia until the 12th of never anyway.

  • Hi everyone,

    Just to point out a small error made by Red, (only a small one) when using these phones, you can actually activate the number pad whilst on a call so you can “press 2 now” to be put on hold by your bank or internet operator etc, if you need to.

    Another point I’d like to add, the real iPhone works out at £899 (269 plus 35 per month for 18 month), so in comparison, the clones really do represent excellent value for money. Lets face it, in 12 months time you’ll probably want to change it for something else new and exciting and even more fashionable.

    Regards
    Simon

    http://www.digitalplayworld.co.uk

  • DTM, heh no I didn’t have to drop £700 on the iPhone, thanks to my new best friends at O2 who found me an eval unit at very short notice.

  • I just returned my HiPhone as it was sluggish and limited compared to the P168+.

    For pose factor its the best and build wise its very solid.

    If you want to see the full review of the P168+ then email me. I’d do a more coherent review of the HiPhone if interested.

    Mark

  • Hi

    Returned the HiPhone and now sold the P168+.

    The replacement is the M888 which looks wise isn’t very slick but function wise its very good. Loading Mini Opera 4 onto the phone makes it a serious competitor to the iPhone.

    M

  • You can buy latest iphone clones from us in china.
    For watching videos of iphone show.please visit our website http://www.ebest-elec.com

  • Wij verstrekken onze kijkers de volledige waaier van Zwitserse de horlogeswijzen en ontwerpen van fake rolex van de Replica.

  • would you mind updating this….there are definetly some new phones out there. iphone c6? wifi gps? can u get back to me..thanks

    • I am with you. I haven't used Iphone yet coz it's not good for our third world countries. So, we mostly go with others. The most selling phone in our country is Nokia. So, I would also like to get new updates as I want to replace my old set.

      Regards

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