Mobile Phones: Separating Wheat from Chaff  

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The information communication technology market, especially the mobile phone segment has not stopped attracting new entrants since the advent of the Global System for Mobile Communication, GSM in 2001.

 This massive influx of different mobile phone brands has made it difficult to arrive at an accurate number of phone brands in the market.

 While it is a good thing that technology is advancing given the innovations with brands flooding the market almost on a daily basis, it is also worrisome to know that a lot of mobile phones being delivered to unsuspecting consumers are below standards.

 Although counterfeit phones may come cheap and attractive to many consumers as a result of the low cost, they may not be economical considering their negative effects.

 Such phones have durability challenge which will cause a user to spend extra money on another device sooner than expected.

 For instance, an expert and a university don in Tanzania, Dr. Kenneth Halila, noted that since substandard phones were usually not tested for compliance with industry safety standards, they were sometimes manufactured with harmful level of dangerous element such as lead.

 They usually have inoperable speakers, low-resolution camera, slow and old processors that result in poor network connectivity.

 Halila explained further that due to high radiation produced in low quality devices; this could affect the brain of a foetus and cause an explosion while charging. Such device may also affect the brain of users due to electromagnetic radiation, he added.

 It is on this note that Market Place arrived at some conclusions on key features that buyers need to watch for out for in a device before purchase.

•Compare a handset to an original one:

Most expensive phones are made of high-quality materials. If possible, pair them with your handset and make a comparison. However, it is not an assurance that a phone is original if it looks like an expensive, high-quality phone.

•Go to the cell phone manufacturer site and check the material used: To be sure of a phone’s originality, it’s better to check its website to know what materials were used for such a device  and compare it with the device at hand.

•Check the software used and other specifications:  A product specification can be found at the back of a phone’s box. The specification should be compared with handset by going to settings  about the phone. If the specifications don’t match, it’s possible that such phone has been cloned. In case the box is missing, the whole specification can be viewed on the brand’s official website.

A product’s specification can also be checked using a third-party app.

 Search and download Antutu Benchmark from Google Play. The logo is a red Android image with fire as a background. It will let user test a device’s speed and will later detect full specification of a phone and device’s name. If it displays another phone’s manufacturer’s name, then the phone might be a clone

•Verify the IMEI and serial number: For Android and other handsets, the IMEI can be found on the back of a handset but If the sticker has been tampered with, one can also   find it in Settings.

 User can also dial *#06# on a device to display its IMEI. Once the IMEI is seen, go to Imei.info and input IMEI in the box and hit ‘CHECK.’ The system will verify the phone’s information. If it displays contrary information from the handset, then the device may not be original.

Also, leading online travel agency, Jumia Travels in a recent release cautioned consumers to closely watch out for these features in a device: packaging (print quality and consistency), wires and plug to ensure that it is not loose, user manual to ensure that relevant information is written in the official language of the country where it is purchased, check the font for readability, regularity and similarity and pay attention to materials used to confirm that it is of high quality.