The sale of fake and sub-standard mobile phones is a big business in Nigeria. With poverty so high in Nigeria, fake phones become very appealing to Nigerians especially the ignorant. This is because they are often priced within the reach of most Nigerians.
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Buying a fake mobile phone always seems like a good deal at first, but will eventually leave you frustrated. Fake mobile phones often promise features like colour screen, camera, memory card, media player, internet, and Bluetooth all at a ridiculously cheap price.
However these features may not work at all or may not work as expected. For example the internet usually will not work, the memory card will not be as large as advertised, and the camera and display will not have the resolution quality advertised. All these will leave you frustrated.
If you are planning to buy a mobile phone and you do not want it to be fake or sub-standard, here are a few tips to ensure you buy genuine mobile phones.
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Buy from an Authorized Mobile Phone Dealer
The surest way of buying a genuine mobile phone is to buy directly from an accredited phones dealer. Every mobile phone brand accredits specific dealers to sell their products.
Buying your mobile phones from such a dealer is like buying directly from the manufacturer. You get a warranty (usually one year) on any phone you buy from an accredited dealer in addition to great after sales services.
Find an authorised dealer for the brand of mobile phone you are interested in and buy your mobile phones, battery chargers, and all other phones accessories and enhancements from them.
However, finding an authorised dealer can be quite challenging in Nigeria as most of our information is not properly organised or easily accessible.
At Nigeria Technology Guide we have been researching and compiling lists of accredited dealers of some mobile phones brands for years. This is aimed at making it easy for mobile phones buyers to find good dealers.
We currently have lists for dealers of leading mobile phones brands in Nigeria like Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, and LG.
The lists are still work in progress and we continuously add more dealers, however do not take them as an endorsement of the mobile phone dealers. Look for an authorised mobile phones dealer near you and check them out.
Another option is to browse the internet for accredited mobile phones dealers in Nigeria. Visit websites of phone makers and look for dealer’s link, if it is available.
You may also search with a search engine like Google. For example, if you are interested in buying a Nokia phone, you can enter the search term Nokia dealers in Nigeria on your favourite search engine for a suggestion of websites that may carry such information.
Mobile phones you buy from a reliable source are more likely to be genuine, but do not forget to collect a receipt. Original phones can develop faults and your receipt entitles you to a warranty if anything goes wrong.
If you can not find an accredited dealer in your location, here are more tips to help you buy genuine phones when you are not sure of the dealer.
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Check Model Number
Makers of fake mobile phones are so confident these days that their phones will sell that they sometime do not imitate known models. They build new sub-standard models and simply use the brand of a well known manufacturer like Nokia or Samsung.
This however creates an opportunity for informed buyers to identify fake mobile phones. The model number is usually written on the manual and on the battery compartment of the phone.
If the model number does not belong to a known design of the brand, then it is probably a fake. This assumes you know the model numbers of all known phones of the brand before hand.
However, this may not be possible. A good idea is to search the internet first for mobile phones that meets your need and are within your budget. Make a list of a few of them and go to the market with your list.
Another option is to go to the market first and note mobile phones models that are available and then go online to confirm that they are models produced by the phone maker.
Then you can go back and buy only authentic models. Make sure you are armed with information before going to buy a mobile phone. Fake mobile phones dealers thrive on your ignorance, if you are not well informed you will be conned easily.
Sadly, some fake mobile phones are actual imitation of genuine models, in such a situation it becomes impossible to identify imitation mobile phones (clones) using only the model number, but there is another way.
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Price vs Specs
Fake mobile phones often promise lots of features at a ridiculously cheap price. This lapse creates another opportunity for informed buyers to identify sub-standard mobile phones.
As a rule the more features a mobile phone has, the more expensive it gets. A camera phone that is sold at less than N5,000 is probably fake or will come with what I will call a toy camera.
A good colour screen mobile phone with a modest camera resolution and a working internet should be north of N10,000. There are a few exceptions but once you are not sure of the dealer it is always good to err on the side of caution. If the deal is too good to be true it probably is.
You can sometimes identify fake mobile phones by inspection. Observe the packaging if it looks sub-standard then the phone is likely to be as good as the packaging. If you see misspellings or tampering, that could be a sign that the phone is a fake.
Open the package and see what is inside. Check the manual and make sure it is written in English. If the manual is written in Chinese, German, or any other language other than English or an indigenous Nigerian language, then it is probably a fake mobile phone.
If you notice misspellings on the manual to the extent that you can barely understand what you are reading, then the mobile phone is likely to be a fake.
Note that genuine mobile phones may have ugly packaging and misspellings, but if you are not sure of the dealer, it is always a good idea to err in the side of caution.
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Ask for a Receipt
Your receipt is for damage control. Assuming after following these tips you still found the mobile phone you bought to be a fake or sub-standard phone, your receipt gives some hope for remedy. The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) can help you recover some of your loss, but make sure:
- The name of the shop/dealer and address are printed on the receipt
- The model number and price is written on the receipt
Without your receipt there is no evidence that any transaction took place between you and the mobile phones dealer, so make sure you ask for one.
The more information you have the less likely you are to fall for fake mobile phones schemes. Ignorance leaves you at the mercy of fake mobile phone dealers. Arm yourself with information and fake phone dealers will stand very little chance.