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Fake iPad versus the real thing

How close can a team of anonymous designers and engineers get to a real iPad for one-sixth the price? We take an in-depth look at both an M-003 knock-off and the real deal.

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Derek Fung
Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.
Derek Fung
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1 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

No prizes

How close can a team of anonymous designers and engineers get to a real iPad for one-sixth the price? We take an in-depth look at both an M-003 knock-off and the real deal.

It doesn't take an Einstein, a rocket scientist or even a degree from Bovine University to realise that the unit on the left is the wannabe iPad, while the one on the right is the real deal.

But, before we go any further, let's take it back to the start...

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2 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Tell 'em the price son

The fake iPad was purchased for 750RMB (AU$120) from an electronics market in Shanghai and even from the box alone it's pretty easy to discern which is which.

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3 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

One to the challenger

One facet in which the fake trumps the Jobs-endorsed product is in the box design. With its hinged lid, the fake iPad's box is easy to open. The top of the real iPad's box, on the other hand, must be shaken and wiggled free from the bottom half — a task that must be done fairly carefully when you're dealing with AU$600-plus of easily broken glass and electronics.

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4 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Satisfaction guaranteed?

What? No white power adapter!? Tell 'em I want my 750RMB back!

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5 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Stuck?

Don't expect much help from the fake iPad's manual. Not unless, that is, you have a passable command of written Chinese.

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6 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

iPad Micro maybe?

The fake has a 7.9-inch (20cm) screen, while the Cupertino-designed model has a 9.7-inch (24.6cm) display.

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7 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

White versus silver

If you've always craved and desired a white iPad, bagging a fake one may be a good idea.

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8 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Lies, damned lies

Despite its rather bold 64GB claim, the fake iPad actually only has between 1 and 1.5GB of usable storage space.

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9 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

iPed

The developers of the fake iPad don't mind branding their product as an "iPad", but feel the need to rename the iPod application to iPed on the box. No, we don't get it either.

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10 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Expanding baseline

Apple's never been fond of giving its iPod, iPhone and iPad owners much in the way of device expansion, unless it's via the company's proprietary connector.

The fake's bottom edge features (from left to right) a power connector, microSD card slot, its own proprietary jack for computer connectivity, a 3.5mm headphone port and a USB port for flash drives.

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11 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Right wing

The right-hand side of Apple's iPad (top) features a volume rocker and a switch to enable automatic screen rotation. The fake iPad (bottom) has a volume rocker and the unit's power switch.

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12 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

On top

On the top edge of the real iPad (top) is the unit's 3.5mm headphone jack and power switch; these are located elsewhere on the not-so-original version.

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13 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Google versus Apple

The fake unit runs Google's Android operating system — version 1.6, if you're really curious — while, of course, the real thing uses iOS version 3.2.1.

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14 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Usain Bolt and the tortoise

What can't be borne out by this photo gallery is how incredibly underpowered the fake iPad is compared to the real deal. From a cold start the fake item takes a minute and a half to boot up, by which time you could have started up and shut down a real iPad three times.

For more information on how the fake iPad launched us into a deep state of lugubriousness, check out our full review of the M-003.

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15 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

My eyes, my eyes!

As you well know already, the real iPad features a pleasant to behold 9.7-inch glass-topped capacitive screen that boasts a resolution of 1024x768. The plastic screen on the fake version is warped around the edges, only has a resolution of 800x600 and is nowhere near as bright nor as vivid as the real item's.

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16 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Resistance is futile

The fake iPad's resistive touchscreen requires quite a firm prod for clicks to register and the unit was often confounded as to whether we wanted to click, swipe or hurl it into a sturdy brick wall.

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17 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Doogsl with glasses

Because of the touchscreen's recalcitrance, the keys on the virtual keyboard aren't quite big enough. With a bit of care we were able to type "doogsl with glasses" instead of "dogs with glasses" — the keyboard's most common mistake was confusing our attempts to mash backspace with our desire for the letter L.

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18 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Joy

Given how poorly the fake iPad handles single touch, we're glad it doesn't support multi-touch.

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19 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

No joy

Videos are fine, with a few provisos. You must be a big fan of blocks and artefacts, and you must absolutely love the supplied sample video — we were unable to successfully play any other videos.

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20 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Play him out Keyboard Cat

Despite the presence of a YouTube app, the device refused to play any of the site's videos; this is one device even Keyboard Cat can't get to.

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21 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

More than meets the eye

It might look like a Home button to you and me, and for the purposes of the lock screen it is. Everywhere else, though, it functions as a back button instead. To go home, there's an on-screen button located in the top-left corner. Odd.

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22 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Same, same, but different

The fake iPad ships with what looks to be an Apple connector. It, in fact, is a proprietary design all of its own and doesn't work with a real iPad (above) or vice versa.

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23 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Same, same, but different, part II

That being the case, the fake iPad doesn't quite fit onto Apple's iPad charging stand.

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24 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Same, same, but different, part III

Nor does it work with the iPad keyboard.

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25 of 25 Alexandra Savvides/CNET Australia

Whee!

In case you're wondering, after the fake iPad slid down the keyboard it didn't impale itself on the waiting metal spike. Shame.

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