Fake iPhone 8 phones found in Huaqiangbei do not have the latest animoji function. Photo: Google Maps, Apple Inc
Fake iPhone 8 phones found in Huaqiangbei do not have the latest animoji function. Photo: Google Maps, Apple Inc

Imitation is always the highest form of flattery in China. But if the Chinese copycat version of the next generation of iPhone is any guide, there are things to worry about Apple’s upcoming iPhone sales.

Although iPhone 8 is not available until September 22, plenty of similar products are available at Huaqiangbei in Shenzhen for a fraction of the price.

Five stations away from Lo Wu station is Huaqiangbei, a 1.1 million square-meter complex dubbed the Silicon Valley of Hardware because it is a thousand times larger than its rival Sin Tat Plaza in Mongkok.

Read: Why the new iPhones won’t be hot items in Sin Tat Plaza

One can find almost anything in the world’s largest mobile trading center at a discount, because of the vast scale and advanced products, which may not even be on the market.

One example is iP8, the copycat version that was available – for only 800 yuan (US$123) – a week before Apple chief executive Tim Cook announced the product launch this week.

Users can tell the copycat version, which looks 90% like the new iPhone 8 in color and even function keys. But of course, it can’t run an app store.

Instead it runs on an Android operating system, with a poor camera experience that some have likened to the standard of an iPhone 4, not to mention any advanced features like airpods, wireless charging and a bionic chip.

Buyers, we suspect, simply want people to know they are fashionable, without friends looking at how the phone really works.

But the most important attraction is the price – and this is especially important, because Apple is trying to market its most expensive phone this time around.

iPhone 8, which represents a slight improvement on iPhone 7, will be priced at a minimum of HK$5,988 with iPhone 8 Plus going for HK$8,188.

But the iPhone X, which will be launched on October 27, will be priced at an auspicious HK$9,888, which many people in the mass market say is aggressive pricing.

Traders at Huaqiangbei were relatively bearish about sales of the iPhone 8, predicting there might be a few hundred dollars premium for the early buyers, following a similar pattern when Apple launched iPhone 5S and iPhone 7.

But the real attraction is the iPhone X as there are already offers to buy them for 20,000 yuan because of its special features, like facial recognition, a homeless button and Animoji, and above all, the limited supply of them.

So, all eyes will be watching iPhone X sales in Huaqiangbei and Sin Tat Plaza – to see if it brings joy in autumn.