#BounceExclusive: Fake Phones Take Over Nigeria’s Smartphone Market
David went to Computer Village to buy a smartphone.
His dream device was one of the Samsung Galaxy series. His budget was 30,000 Naira.
However, when he got to Computer Village and priced some of the Samsung Galaxy devices in an authorised dealer shop, he realized that 30,000 Naira could not get him his desired phone.
Saddened by reality, he left the shop.
A young man approached him and told him he had several brand new top grade devices at affordable rates. Amazed by the good news, he tagged along.
He went with the young man to his makeshift shop along the street and saw an array of smartphones lined on a table under an umbrella.
His dream Samsung Galaxy was also on display. The asking price was 25,000 Naira but upon further negotiation, they asked him to take it at 20,000 Naira.
This aroused his suspicion. He thought that perhaps they were trying to cheat on him in the previous shop where 30,000 Naira could not get him the phone.
He examined the phone carefully, it was the same Samsung Galaxy his 30,000 Naira could not buy. He turned on the phone, the display was crystal clear with the brand name appearing as it should.
This must be a miracle, he thought.
He told Bounce News that what he bought was a fake phone, commonly known as 'na refurbished'. After about three months, he said the phone began to hang when he tried to open his contact list.
The picture quality became poorer. The screen developed fault and when he tried to download music files, the memory could not take it.
Plus, the phone’s battery was a full-blown headache as it would only last for a five minutes’ call then switch off.
According to statistics from Africa Infotech Consulting, there are about 15.5 million smartphones in the hands of Nigerians as smartphone penetration deepened to about 30% in 2016.
Over the past decade, original equipment manufacturers, OEM such as Nokia, (now Microsoft), Samsung, Apple, Motorola, Tecno, Infinix etc had dominated the market, putting millions of original smart devices into the hands of Nigerians.
But it appears, that is beginning to change with the emergence of the so-called refurbished phones. Bounce News investigation shows that the thriving refurbished market is fueled by the prohibitive cost of these OEM devices, forcing many Nigerians to resort to these fake phones.
The poor quality of the refurbished brands are not easily noticeable. The packaging is the same. The touch and feel, including the weight are practically the same with the original ones.
It would take someone very savvy with devices to spot the difference.
“My brother, original smartphones are very expensive. These days, there is no money in the country, why should I use huge sum of money to buy one phone.
“These refurbished phones are good enough, if I am carrying it, you would not know unless I told you,” said John who came to buy a refurbished iPhone 6S at a phone shop along Lekki-Aja expressway.
Bounce News went into a dealer shop. Brands such as iPhone, Samsung, Tecno, Infinix were all on display. According to the dealer who did not want to be named, his iPhone 6S goes for between 30 and 40,000 Naira. The original iPhone 6s is sold at 230,000 Naira on Konga.com.
*These are iPhone 6s. The one on the left is refurbished and sells for N30K while the
original one on the right sells for N230K
His Samsung Galaxy S7 goes for 35,000 Naira. A check on Konga shows that the original device is sold for between 250 and 290,000 Naira.
What about his Tecno C9 launched in Nigeria by February this year?
Well, the refurbished one goes for between 25 and 30,000. The original device is sold for 72,000 Naira on Konga.
And the Infinix Note 3 launched sometime in August 2016? The asking price is 35,000 Naira but negotiation could drive down the price to 30,000 Naira and the dealer told Bounce News it would still be a good deal.
*This Infinix Note 3 in its exact carton sells for N35K. The original device sells for N68K on Jumia
The guarantee on all the devices are between 24 and 72 hours. (That's the catch. Ask for warranty to be signed on the document presented to you and they would say NO!)
“The refurbished phone market has become big. There is nothing anyone can do about it. Millions of Nigerians want to use smartphones and there has to be an option for them,” said the dealer.
He told Bounce that the only devices that are spared from the counterfeiting include: Nokia, Gionee, Bontel, itel and other uncommon brands.
Refurbished phones have not been legally prohibited from entering Nigeria, at least not officially.
But at the moment, what is not clear is if the OEMs or even the regulators are aware that counterfeit copies of their devices at ridiculous prices have taken over the smartphone market.