I got an email from a very disturbed fan a few weeks back. He was the laughing stock of his friends because he’d bought a fake Tecno phone. A few days later, I found myself in the company of some guy bragging about how customized his Tecno M3 was. I happen to own a Tecno M3 (which I nick-named “Lazarus” because it died many times but somehow rose each time) so I decided to take a look at this Mystery phone. Yes, he’d changed the fonts and UI (I really wonder why this is most people’s definition of “Customized”) but aside from those, it felt like a regular Tecno M3. Something I couldn’t put a finger on felt off….and then I figured it out…it was a cloned (fake) Tecno M3 (see https://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-identify-a-fake-samsung-android-phone/ for Samsung phones).
Are the IMEI and VC code a true test to check if a Tecno phone is original?
My first encounter with a fake (cloned) Tecno phone was with a forum member whose Tecno M3 proved mighty stubborn. I had to employ some dev tactics to get it to work but couldn’t explain why it defied traditional fixes, not until I encountered a fake one myself.
Just like you reading this post, I Googled “How to check if a Tecno phone is original or fake” and I came across many posts but all said essentially the same thing in many ways which – in summary – was for you to go to http://gc.tecno-mobile.com/ , enter your IMEI and VC code then click Submit (as shown in the image below) .
As a Tech. enthusiast, I was very disappointed to see many well respected Nigerian Tech. blogs put up fancy tutorials around this and feel justified. The above IMEI-VC method of checking if a Tecno phone is original is just like:
Q: Please, where is the Tecno office?
A: Just look for any building with Tecno written anywhere on it and you’re there!
As ridiculous as that sounds, that’s essentially what the above method is.
Where are the IMEI and VC code located?
They can be located on a white sticker behind the phone after taking out the battery (as in the image below). You can also check the IMEI by dialing *#06#
Does this mean the IMEI and VC code can be forged?
They can be changed, not forged. The IMEI of an MTK phone can easily be changed using the method @ https://forum.hovatek.com/thread-116.html and that of a Spreadtrum phone using the method @ https://forum.hovatek.com/thread-664.html (that’s GLO BIS on Android 101 for you) . The IMEI and VC behind the phone is just an easy-to-clone sticker with numbers and nothing more.
How can I differentiate an original from a fake Tecno phone?
The afore mentioned fake Tecno phone passed the IMEI-VC test flawlessly so put that test aside for now. Having held both original and fake Tecno phones (M3 and P5) side by side, its important you look beyond the physical appearance because they look very much alike (I had to look really hard to spot some differences). Some things that however stood out were:
- CPU: The cloned (fake) Tecno phones often run on Single Core Spreadtrum CPUs (SPD Chipset) while the original Tecno phones often run on Dual core (and above) Mediatek CPUs (MTK Chipset) . Check this using Antutu Benchmark @ https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.antutu.ABenchMark&hl=en
- Android version: The fake Tecno phones displayed Android 4.2.0 while the original displayed Android 4.2.2 . This should however be taken with a pinch of salt because a simple build.prop edit can change 2.3 to 4.4, 5.0 or 6.0. That’s what the themed Tecno custom ROMs you’ve probably been seeing around are; themed to look like Kitkat (4.4) or Lollipop (5.*), not actual upgrades.
- User Interface (UI): The fake Tecno phones had a Gingerbread look and feel (under Settings)
- Recovery mode: The original Tecno phones were able to boot into recovery mode using the volume up + power buttons (see https://forum.hovatek.com/thread-479.html) but this didn’t work on the fake Tecno phones. The Spreadtrum technique worked on a few (see https://forum.hovatek.com/thread-2167.html)
- Rooting technique: Framaroot would normally root the original Tecno M3 and P5 flawlessly (see https://forum.hovatek.com/thread-1.html) but rooting attempts using this same exploit on the fake Tecno phones failed. Rootmaster was able to do the job on some
- 3G: The fake Tecno phones had problems enabling 3G; whereas, 3G on the original Tecno phone worked fine
- RAM & Internal storage: The RAM and internal storage of the clone were found to be lower than in the original (Settings > Apps > Downloaded > Running > All)
- MTK Droid Tools: MTK Droid tools (see https://forum.hovatek.com/thread-468.html was unable to display the device info of the clone but did so for the original)
- Device manager: The clone got detected as SPD or Spreadtrum under device manager instead of MTK or Mediatek
Where can I get the specifications of original Tecno phones / purchase?
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