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Why buy a new iPhone when you can dress your old one to look like the 7?

Some fans are apparently buying kits online to mask older models in new iPhone garb.

The unique black box special for the jet black iPhone 7
James Martin/CNET

If you couldn't justify spending the money to replace your old iPhone with an iPhone 7 ($200 at eBay), you're not alone. And if you feel somewhat left out because of it, you're also not alone. Giving your old phones an iPhone 7 makeover is reportedly on the rise in China.


Are you jealous of that jet black, but not jealous enough to buy the real thing?

Sarah Tew/CNET

The trend, first reported by Reuters, sees iPhone loyalists turning to online makeover kits and services to make their phones look new.

Apple products are expensive in China, where Apple still struggles to break into the mainstream amid a multitude of cheaper competitors. A new black 128GB iPhone 7 costs about 7,094 yuan including VAT and other taxes, which roughly equates to $1,050. The same model would sell for $749 from the US Apple store.

A quick search on Chinese online retailer Taobao shows stock for fake, unauthorized casings you can fit over an old phone to give it the appearance of the latest Apple phone, and other iPhone 7 lookalike products. For example, you can buy a fake jet-black iPhone 7 display model for 25 yuan, and potentially swap out the casing for much less.

Apple did not respond to CNET's request for comment.

There are a few ways to read the trend. One is Reuters' way, which suggests lower sales as a result of this tactic. On the other hand, putting in the effort to disguise a phone as an iPhone 7 proves customers' brand loyalty and props up Apple as a status symbol. Besides, not all consumers upgrade their phones every year. In skipping a generation, Apple customers could be holding out for next year's release.