It has been a couple of weeks now since I put up the ad for the Apple iPhone 5C that we got from Smart. Finally decided to get it swapped so that we can dispose of the unit instead of it just sitting on my desk all day. We spent days and days trying to find someone to swap with, and found one lady who was willing to get the iPhone in exchange for her Note 3. Since we figured it was easier to sell the Note 3, we agreed. I met up with her, and was confident that the transaction will go smoothly since she said her unit had an NTC seal, and as for my unit it’s brand new and had a year of warranty left from Smart.
So how did the meeting go? Sad to say that I was almost conned. The Note 3 she owned was a clone, and I am thankful that I am an avid reader of the XDA Developers forum and found out the key differences between an original Note 3 vs a fake or clone Note 3 unit. I didn’t think much of her unit as it clearly had Samsung stickers at the back of the unit including an NTC seal. The box even had a “Samsung Care” sticker too. But upon closer inspection, I felt I need to check further because I wasn’t sure if it was just my eyes but the screen didn’t look as fancy. I had to investigate!
Here are what I found:
1. First thing I did was check the IMEI. I used the Check IMEI site for doing this. I got an “invalid IMEI” prompt when I keyed in the IMEI number I found on the Note 3. I double checked, even triple checked. It was definitely invalid. RED FLAG!
2. I checked the memory, it said 12.53gb available. Now wait. There is a 16gb variant of the Note 3, so basing it on this alone isn’t really a big red flag.
3. I proceeded to check the S Pen. Upon pulling it out, the first thing I noticed was that the S Pen was smaller than mine. I placed it side by side with my own S Pen and it was about an inch shorter. Also another giveaway was that on the side of the S Pen, you can actually press down on the button. The one on the clone unit cannot be pressed.
4. Following that, I was surprised to see that Air Command was available since I already knew this was definitely a clone unit. But looking closer, I could not find the dot on the screen when I hover the S Pen over the screen. I used my S Pen on her unit and still no dot. Uh-oh. And upon clicking on the “Air Command” icons on her unit, though it did have the same icons, the functions were different. I clicked on the first icon, which should have taken me to Action Memo. Instead it took me to the Home Screen. The last icon, which was the Pen Window opened the Calculator instead. Argh.
5. I keyed in *#0*# to access the LCD test screen and did not find the S Pen Hovering option.
6. Okay at this point I should have stopped already cos it was OBVIOUSLY a fake Note 3. But my curiosity got the better of me, and I went on to find out everything else that was different. I installed the Genuine Galaxy app from the Play Store, and though expected, I got the red bar that said “I’m afraid you’re not using a Galaxy Note 3.” The real specs of the phone were then revealed to me via this app. This time, I had to take a picture. See for yourself..(click the photo to enlarge) Note the RAM, ROM, Screen Resolution as well as Screen Density: