Xiaomi Mi Note-17

You can tell a lot about the popularity of a device from market research and analyst estimates, but to learn what phones people really desire, China’s sprawling fake and clone industry is a great starting point.

AnTuTu, the China-based benchmark developer, has a great vantage over the market: tens of thousands of devices check in to its servers every day to submit benchmark scores. Among them, thousands of fake devices imitating brand-name phones of all calibers.

Looking at data from 10 million devices, AnTuTu found that the two most faked smartphone brands in China are Xiaomi, with a share of 37.3%, and Samsung, with 30.96%. Put in another way, out of every three fake phones, one is a Samsung and one a Xiaomi.

It’s no surprise to see Samsung at the top of this questionably honorable ranking – the company has a strong cachet in the world’s largest phone market, accumulated over years of market domination. That’s despite the fact that in recent quarters, Samsung’s share took a dive in China. Much of this decline is due to Xiaomi, and it looks like Xiaomi’s also beating Samsung in the “most likely to be faked” category.

fake china phones

Huawei, HTC, ZTE, Coolpad, Oppo, and Lenovo are other brands that are frequently faked, though their numbers are significantly lower.

The elephant in the room is Apple – AnTuTu hasn’t included iPhones in its statistic, but we suspect the number of iPhone fakes and clones circulating in China is sky high. After all, the local market has provided Apple with the bulk of its growth over the past year, as status-hungry Chinese snap up iPhones at a blistering rate.

AnTuTu notes that the number of fake devices has decreased compared to past years, a sign that users are increasingly capable to spot fake devices before they buy them. More importantly, many people no longer need to buy a fake, not when Xiaomi is offering genuine products at very low prices.

You may think that these stats only concern China. But most of the fakes and clones you can buy on eBay and other platforms come from China. At the very least, this should be a reminder to be extra careful when buying Samsung or Xiaomi smartphones from unverifiable sources.