A series of photos, reportedly leaked from Apple’s Chinese manufacturer Foxconn, show that the iPhone 5S is already in production — and, perhaps unsurprisingly, will be virtually identical to the iPhone 5. Only, it isn’t the iPhone 5S — in fact, it isn’t even an iPhone. It’s just one of many Chinese iPhone knockoffs — and yet dozens of major tech sites have fallen for it, parroting the source in that inimitable fashion that only tech blogs have so perfected.
The iPhone 5S, like the 4S, is expected to be an iterative upgrade to the iPhone 5 — and so,when pictures emerged [Chinese] of a phone that looked just like the iPhone 5, tech writers assumed this must be the iPhone 5S. One German site even noticed that the “iPhone 5S” had a different vibration motor than the iPhone 5, proving this was indeed a new iPhone. What most sites didn’t notice was the crappy battery (1130mAh on the iPhone clone vs. 1440mAh on the iPhone 5), the lack of a Lightning connector, and the addition of an SD card slot.
iPhone 5 clone/fake, with (left to right): Crappy battery, SD card port, and no Lightning connector.
In all likelihood, this fake iPhone 5S is actually something like a GooPhone, or another Chinese knockoff that is produced and sold for a mere fraction of an official iPhone. In a country where the iPhone is one of the most (and fast-growing) devices, and yet most of the population earn less than $1,000 per month, knockoff iPhones are big business. The photos may indeed stem from Foxconn, where Apple’s iPhone is manufactured, but Foxconn makes devices for hundreds of different companies — including domestic Chinese companies. We’re only guessing at this point, but we assume that Apple’s production line would be shrouded in enough security that cameras can’t be snuck inside the building.
In the world of tech writing, Apple rumors — even those with questionable veracity — are about as tempting as it gets. In much the same way that Apple’s mystical and magical aura entices consumers to suspend disbelief on an alarmingly regular basis, tech writers are just as susceptible. In this case, though, huge alarm bells should’ve rung in their heads — I mean, really, compare the photos above with a real iPhone 5 below. The knockoff looks, quite literally, like something that fell off the back of a truck — we know that Apple, under pressure from Samsung and co, is getting desperate, but it isn’t quite ready to drop its standards that far.