We hate to say this, but the KIRF market is often a good indicator of how popular certain devices are, hence the plentiful fake iPhones and Galaxy phones in China. (Meanwhile, MediaTek is shamelessly cashing in as it ships its SoCs to those cloning factories.) Now, we're not saying the HTC One doesn't have any clones, but most of those we've seen weren't very convincing -- they were either of different sizes or had very poor build quality. But we eventually stumbled upon a pretty good fake in Huaqiangbei.
The offending device is pictured above on the left. Externally, it bears a disgustingly strong resemblance to the real deal thanks to the same 4.7-inch screen size, the same curved back, the same micro-SIM tray, the same dual-soft-key layout and even the same metallic chamfer on the front. But if you look closer or touch it even, the tell-tale signs start to show up. See for yourself in the gallery below -- the fake One is to the left or on top of the real thing.
First of all, the screen resolution is 1,280 x 720 instead of 1,920 x 1,080, but the quality's still pretty decent -- just a tad cool on the color temperature. When you hold the clone in your hand, you'd notice straight away that the back is actually made of plastic, with the white stripes painted on instead of mold-injected.
What's funnier is that despite the presence of the bottom speaker grille, there's really only just one speaker which is in the top side. Similarly, the black power button isn't hiding any infrared emitter, and there's no NFC on the back, either. That said, this clone does gain a menu key hidden underneath the HTC logo in the middle -- the latter is just coarsely painted on the glass instead of underneath it (likely added by the shop instead of the manufacturer), so you can easily scratch it off. (Of course, if you really want to, you can map the HTC logo as a key on the real One, but you'd have to hack the kernel.)
For those who somehow loathe HTC's Sense UI, you'll be pleased to know that like the HTC One Google Play Edition, this clone comes with vanilla Android 4.2.1. Google services are included, but we noticed that from time to time they would struggle to sync. Anyway, the only bit of UI customization here are some of the icons and wallpapers ported from Sense UI, so you won't find BlinkFeed or HTC's camera interface. Speaking of which, the camera app on our fake One can capture images of up to 13 megapixels using the device's 8-megapixel sensor, so we're not sure if the app's 2-megapixel option is the native resolution for the front-facing camera.
Like many flagship devices coming from Chinese companies these days, this fake One is powered by MediaTek's 1.2GHz quad-core MT6589 SoC. It does the job and we saw no hiccups in general, but it's no match to the Snapdragon 600 on the real thing, especially when it comes to 3D graphics. For the sake of comparison, we ran both our real and fake Ones through Vellamo and 3DMark, and the difference was apparent especially for the latter -- the fake One suffered from a much lower frame rate while rendering the 3D animation. You can find these benchmark scores in the table below.
Finally, the price. Our fake One cost us a mere CN¥1,300 or about $210, and it came in a plastic packaging that's similar to the real cardboard version (though we wouldn't call this an upgrade). The device is known to come with 16GB of built-in storage with no microSD expansion, but we've yet to determine how big the battery is. Similar clones do come with a 1,600mAh battery, though. The question is: how safe and reliable is the device? Not worth the risk, says our imaginary Peter Chou with clenched fists.
|Fake HTC One||Real HTC One|
|Screen resolution||1,280 x 720 (313ppi)||1,920 x 1,080 (468ppi)|
|Screen type||IPS LCD||S-LCD3|
|Battery||1,600mAh? (non-removable)||2,300mAh Li-Polymer (non-removable)|
|Rear camera||8MP (OmniVision OV8825), BSI, 1/3.2" sensor size, 1.4µm pixel size||4.1MP UltraPixel, BSI, f/2.0, 1/3'' sensor size, 2µm pixel size, OIS|
|Video capture||1080p||1080p, 30 fps (front and back)|
|Radios||WCDMA 900/2100?||Depends on market -- see hardware section|
|Bluetooth||v2.1?||v4.0 with aptX|
|SoC||MediaTek MT6589||Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064T)|
|CPU||1.2GHz quad-core||1.7GHz quad-core|
|GPU||PowerVR SGX 544MP||Adreno 320|
|Entertainment||N/A||MHL, DLNA, IR sensor|
|WiFi||802.11 b/g?||Dual-band, 802.11a/ac/b/g/n, WiFi Direct|
|Operating system||Android 4.2.1||Android 4.1.2 (upgradeable to 4.2), Sense 5 UI|
|3DMark: Ice Storm||3,172||11,430|
|3DMark: Ice Storm Extreme||1,579||6,654|