Tag Archives: shanzhai

Shanzhai iPod Nano vs real Nano

Shanzhai iPod Nano

In Shanghai it’s not uncommon to find shanzhai MP3 players at the various fake and tech markets, but, have you ever wondered if they actually work? I recently did a review of a 4th generation Shanzhai iPod Nano and compared it to the real thing for Australia’s biggest technology site, CNET.com.au.

Today the photo gallery comparison of taking a Shanzhai iPod apart next to a real Apple iPod was published and you can find it here. Later this week I hear the site will publish my full review of the Shanzhai Apple good. I won’t spoil the surprise so you’ll just need to check back when it’s live.

Update: Okay the review is now live and you can read it here.

Rubber reviews

Safe sex is a serious issue in China. In Shanghai, just about every convenience store has a huge range of penis protectors and there’s even vending machines conveniently located near hairdressing salons on many of the inner city streets.

Now, I’ve casually seen some of the names of the condoms available and had a good chuckle. And when I say chuckle, I mean giggle like puberty boy – especially at the packaging which would suggest there are some locals that are so awkwardly well-endowed they must be bow-legged.

I digress.

So, I’ve never actually been close enough to read the devil in the details of these packets until the weekend when I found a box of “No.1 American Choice” brands in our hotel room:

“Feel better than wearing nothing” is the slogan, and it’s been “triple tested”.

However, what I like is that they’re giving some highlights of the reviews the condom has been getting back in the US of A – and boy are they popular. The New York Times say it’s a “Triumph of Excess”, Men’s Health reviewed it twice saying it was a “must-try” and has “sensitivity A+”. The female magazine Cosmopolitan also gave the rubber a run and said it was “Oodles more sensation”. And just in case you were wondering if it was safe for M2M action the San Francisco Boy Guardian gave it it’s “Highest Rating”.

Well there you have it. Who would have thunk that there are editors at these media outlets in the USA giving these a good shag testing for the folks having dirty weekends in Wuxi.

Shanzhai eye: the DIY hover bike

Just when you think the engenuity of bikes in China had hit saturation point these guys grab some empty cans, a couple of planks of wood, and replace the wheels with paddles to make what I can only describe as a “hover bike” or “paddle bike”.

Potato, patoto – it’s yet another testament to Chinese innovation.

Shanzhai ji primer

It’s not often I write about stuff that goes on in China, I mean, other than random stuff here. But recently I penned a primer for Australian technology sites CNET.com.au and ZDNet Australia on the world of Shanzhai phones:

CNET.com.au story
ZDNet Australia Photo Gallery

The story really just scratches the surface of the Shanzhai phone industry in China and think this area is only going to get more interesting as the phones get better and gather momentum. Anyway, that’s all today – a blatant self-promotion. As you were…


Shanzhai Eye: Rolls Royce

See the Geely GE sedan that looked like a Rolls Royce Phantom at the Shanghai Auto Show a few months back? Well here is what looks like a direct copy of the Rolls Royce from a garage in China. Here is one of about half a dozen videos showing off their masterpiece:

For the whole playlist visit this link to Youku.com

Shanzhai Eye: DIY helicopter

It’s one thing to Shanzhai a USB stick or SD card. Another to copy the iPhone. Amazing to see a whole F1 car made from scratch. But, a helicopter?

Update: Thanks to Swiss James for pointing out this story was last month’s news at Shanghaiist and
56minus1.com. 56minus1 even has an update on what happened to this gentleman after a recent crash.

That’s right, kids. Tell your friends that you heard it here 1st, 2nd, 3rd…much later!

Shanzhai Eye: The Hi-Phone

Make no mistake about it, Shanzhai (fake) phones are big business in China. According to some in the local mobile industry, shanzhai phones make up between 20-30% of the market in China. If you take the industry figure of 650 million mobile subscribers in the middle kingdom then you’re looking at a ballpark figure of 160 million shanzhai phones.


To put that in perspective, my native country – Australia – has pretty much reached mobile phone saturation point at roughly 20 million mobile phones. That’s roughly 1 per person.

Other than pointing out Australia is a big country that’s sparsely populated, my point is, this is a huge market. And its estimated the shanzhai market will get bigger if the figure of 1 billion phones in China by 2013 is realised. That could mean a quarter of a billion shanzhai phones.

While device manufacturers like Apple and Nokia may not be too impressed by this, its not a huge worry for other stakeholders in the market – content creators and carriers. In fact, shanzhai phones probably create a great deal of money for those groups. Also, shanzhai phone making employs and gives many innovative people an income.

What I find interesting is the ability for these creators to work so fast on new innovative features and bring them to market. Even the direct copies of branded phones bring their own set of innovative features to the table – iPhone copies with shake shuffle and dual sim cards for example.

Whether these phones work as well as industry-tested phones is debatable, and whether they are as safe, and the companies that make them are accountable for creating safe phones is questionable. Like anything bought on the shady market: Caveat emptor.

The next question is how other countries such as Australia, India, USA, Europe, Africa and so on will respond to Shanzhai phones being exported. Will network providers work together with phone creators to require greater authentication to connect to networks? Will it lead to greater vendor lock-in?

Or, should users have the right to Shanzhai phones? And what’s the difference between Shanzhai and the Google Android powered Lenovo Ophone?

As an example of how well built some of these phones are here is the Hi-Phone:

Shanzhai Eye: Marlboro Phone

This week on Shanzhai Eye: Take one poisonous habit and a rising emotional attachment addiction, mash it up, and you get this ingenious invention – the cigarette pack phone.

What looks like a regular packet of Marlboro Reds, dubbed “Cowboy killers”, is in fact a phone in disguise with the ability to hold at least 1 cigarette.

Remembering to pack your ciggies and phone at the same time can be such a hassle – not to mention the pants space both items occupy at the same time. Forget the iPhone. Dump your Blackberry. Look out for the Marlboro phone at a market near you.