Best Fake Market Finds (Android iPhone, Anyone?) From Brazil [Gallery]


The electronics stores are set up like mini-malls. @Nicole Martinelli.
The São Paulo electronics stores are set up like mini-malls. @Nicole Martinelli.

São Paulo, Brazil – The arrival of the much-awaited Brazilian iPad may be in doubt – although our trip to the Foxconn factory showed that an local iPhone is in the works – one thing is certain: there’s a huge market for gadgets here.

Brazilians pay some of the highest prices in the world for their iDevices, but many of them buy alternatives – black or gray market goods and fakes.

Commerce hub São Paulo has a whole neighborhood dedicated to selling these off-market electronic items called Santa Ifigênia, where I paid a visit with Alessandro Salvatori of Blog do iPhone.

Apple-inspired speakers. @Nicole Martinelli.

Coming from the Sao Bento metro station, you cross the charming Santa Ifigênia pedestrian bridge, where you know you’re in the right place when someone pulls out cell phones from a coat jacket muttering “dois chip, dois chip” (dual chip cell phones, in other words. We spotted models in nearby stores with four).

Cell phones with four chips and fake iPod Nanos. @Nicole Martinelli.

The main stretch, which runs alongside the church of the same name (Our Lady of the Deep Discount?), reminds me of Shanghai: small storefronts stretching back into a warren of individual vendor booths selling everything from electric shavers and cameras to baby monitors.


Behold the Android iPhone. @Nicole Martinelli.

Some of the wares sold here are Chinese knock-offs, like the faux iPhone pictured above sporting an Android logo.

The rest? Some of the vendors told me they are the real deal but last year’s models, sold without any guarantees. The local merchant’s association maintains that the products are legit but prices are low because vendors buy directly from manufacturers in large quantities.

A faux iPhone, with TV. @Nicole Martinelli.

Bargains depend on what you’re looking for – there also seemed to be little room for haggling. A 13-inch MacBook Air, which looked legit but was probably the 2010 model, had an asking price of 2,100 reals, or US$1,157 (Compare that to the price of the current model in the Brazilian Apple store of 3,000 reals plus tax and it looks a little better).

Fake iPods with Apple logo clickwheels. @Nicole Martinelli.

Smaller gadgets like the knockoff Shuffles with the Apple logo clickwheel were cheap enough, going for 45 reals (about US$25), and came with some interesting features like a speaker (the demo song was “Say You, Say Me”), recording capabilities and radio.

Supersized iPhone or iPad Nano? @Nicole Martinelli.

Other products were curious hybrids – like the strange case of the Apple-inspired 7-inch tablet above. Is it a giant iPod Touch or an iPad Mini?

Apple TV? iPhones featuring digital TV. @Nicole Martinelli.

The phony iPhones, in black or white, were also loaded with features and cost around 360 reals (US$200). Should you want a phone that looks like an iPhone but runs on Android, comes equipped with dual chips and digital TV, you know where to go.

  • mduncanvm

    I go there frequently to buy accessories and little stuff, but also bought my Nikon D90 (original) there for much less than retail. It’s probably smuggled into the country like most products you can buy there. It’s fun to spend an hour looking at all the crazy fake products they come up with. Apparently Apple let the place know they don’t mind the fakes, as long as they do not sell real Apple products there. That is what I heard.

  • Allen Rhodes

    Nicole is really good looking! 

  • Anderson Freitas

    Unfortunately much of our population is digitally illiterate, many live based on the appearance and status.
    And they bought this shits made in China thinking its a good deal. They dont care about quality, just care about price and status.

  • gareth edwards

    and by simply mentioning this you might, if you’re really, really, really lucky get picked by her to go to the prom!!! Oh joy!

    Now, quit dribbling and write something useful.

    I agree though, Nicole, nice to see a lady tech writer and you score well on the oggleometer scoring a rather good ‘Scorchio!’

  • prof_peabody

    Love the Appley speakers. :-)

  • André Peixoto

    It’s funny how people actually buy those things

  • Fernando Martinewski

    Unfortunately a lot (A LOT) of people in Brazil buy these things, thinking they’re buying the real thing. Some people here swear they have a dual-chip iPhone 4 or even the iPhone 5, which they bought for 800 reals (US$ 450), while the real iPhone 4 costs about US$ 1150.

  • MacRat

    Be nice, Allen is probably a tween just hitting puberty and learning that girls don’t have cooties.

  • Matheus Perkmann

    I’m brazilian. I have already gone to Santa Ifigenia. There is the best place here in São Paulo to buy eletronic stuff. Here, we know what is fake, we aren’t stupid to buy this kind of celular thinking that it’s original. Who buys it, buy because of the price. I have an Iphone 4 16gb and I paid 1300 reais. One of these “chingling” is 200 reais. It’s good to go there because of the price, just because of it.