Ask Engadget: Are KIRFs worth it?

We know you've got questions, and if you're brave enough to ask the world for answers, here's the outlet to do so. This week's Ask Engadget inquiry is from Sabin, who wants a high-spec smartphone and is prepared to venture to the dark side to get it. If you're looking to send in an inquiry of your own, drop us a line at ask [at] engadget [dawt] com.

"I know, I know. I sound like an idiot, but I'd like a full-featured smartphone without the hefty cost. I'm looking for an unlocked phone and came across some of the China Global iPhone KIRFs that run Android. I'm no slouch in loading ROMs, building jtags, etc., but I'd like to know if the hardware is solid, because I can make the software work if that's the case."

Putting aside the various ethical and legal quandaries for the moment, it's a very good question. Are KIRFs usable smartphones for those who know their way around tech? Does the hardware work to such a standard that you can expect useful performance and bluff your way through a crowd of those paying full price? Share your experiences with the group -- we're sure you'll feel better afterward.