China cracks down on makers of fake iPhones, report says

Chinese police in Shanghai have five people in custody for allegedly building and selling near-perfect copies of Apple's iPhone in China.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
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The real iPhone 4.
The real iPhone 4. CNET

Police in Shanghai have arrested five people who allegedly built, and subsequently sold, near-perfect copies of Apple's iPhone in China, Reuters is reporting.

According to the news service, the people allegedly involved in the ring paid about 2,000 yuan ($313) for all the parts required to develop an iPhone copycat. After boxing the devices up, the group reportedly then sold them in Chinese markets, as well as online, for 4,000 yuan ($625)--about the same price the genuine iPhone 4 goes for in the country.

The fake iPhones weren't exact replicas, but Reuters quoted one Shanghai police officer who said that "it's really hard for customers to distinguish the fake ones from the genuine ones."

China has long been a popular home for counterfeit tech goods. And as of late, Apple has been one of the leading targets of those people engaging in the development of fake devices.

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In August, customers on China's top online-retail service, Taobao, were able to buy the "HiPhone 5," a device that purported to boast the same features as Apple's long-rumored iPhone 5. However, the handset, which came in the customer's choice of red or pink, looked far more similar to the iPhone 4. The HiPhone 5 was on sale for just 210 yuan ($33) at the time.

Whether changes will be made to the HiPhone 5 once the real iPhone 5 is unveiled next week remains to be seen.

But it's not just iPhones. China has also been home to dozens of fake Apple stores that use Apple logos, have the same store layouts, and offer all the same products. However, some of those outlets have been shut down by Chinese authorities.

Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters' report.