Asia is known for the production and distribution of counterfeit products. Also in the electronics sector, especially in China, since the beginning of the smartphone era, mainly iPhones and Samsung devices have been modeled on the S and Note series and sold for a fraction of the original purchase price. Since a clone of the Samsung Galaxy S series has already passed our test in the last few years, we didn’t want to miss the fun of continuing the tradition with the S9.
In the capital of consumer electronics, Shenzhen in China, we went on a search and, as expected, quickly found what we were looking for: after a short price negotiation, we got a golden S9+ in OVP for around 90$ in a bag with Apple’s golden logo which now can prove itself in our test.
Purchase and versions of Samsung S9 fakes
During our search, we noticed that all exhibited clones of S9+ were identical, and also the devices on the Internet were the same. Therefore, we suggest that the production of these devices is done by a single company and our following review may apply to all Galaxy S9+ clones. Shenzhen is also the original source of a large proportion of electronic devices sold globally and, therefore, we assume that our review is valid worldwide. Finally, our thesis can be backed up by the fact that the trade in counterfeit smartphones from and in China has declined significantly. As a result, the sales market appears to be correspondingly small and to be slightly slack with few production facilities.
Design and build quality
Much has happened in the world of smartphones since last year. This was the case with the S8 and the corresponding clone, as only the original had an Infinity display. But this has changed now because also in the S9+ clone you find a display in 18:9 format, which occupies a large part of the front. Even if the fake doesn’t quite reach the thin bezels of the real S9+ and has a smaller 6-inch display, it still has the rounded corners that make the device look much more similar to the original than the S8 clone did. The rest of the equipment is the same as the original in all respects. Meaning: a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB-C port on the bottom, as well as a dual camera, the fingerprint scanner and a heart rate monitor on the rear. Even the key arrangement corresponds to the original and the well-known Bixby button can be found as usual on the left side. The scope of delivery is also largely modeled after the original and includes headphones, charging cable, SIM ejection tool and a simple silicone cover.
Measuring 156x73x9.7mm, the clone is thicker than the original Samsung S9+, but still within the limits of what can be expected from a low-budget device. The Galaxy S9+ Fake surprised us in the test with its good build quality, which does not correspond to the real S9+, but can be described as above average for the price. Differences to the original can be found on the rear, which consists only of plastic, and on the slightly harder transition from metal frame to front and rear and the display, whose panel itself is not bent. However, we can well imagine that the device will not be uncovered as a copy by the eyes of a layman.
Depending on the price category, smartphones differ radically, especially when it comes to displays, which are often a negative point for inexpensive devices. Since these are also among the most expensive components of a smartphone, manufacturers usually tend to save money at this point, in order to make the price as attractive as possible. Therefore, it is not surprising that our Galaxy S9+ clone shows striking differences to the original. For example, instead of 1440×2960, the display resolution is only 720×1440, reaching a density of 268ppi. As a comparison: the real Galaxy S9+ reaches 503ppi with a 6.2-inch display, and this difference is clearly noticeable. Font and image look much sharper on the original display and individual pixels cannot be seen with the naked eye. On our clone, for example, icons seemed somewhat coarse-grained. Furthermore, the clone “only” has an IPS display of reasonable quality, which is inferior to the AMOLED original in all respects. The viewing angle stability is fine, but otherwise, the display is quite weak in terms of color and brightness. The Samsung Galaxy S9+ clone is therefore similar to a 100$ class device. The display reacts quickly to inputs in the test and detects up to 5 touches simultaneously. Thanks to the 2.5D glass, the operation is very pleasant to the touch. We recommend not to leave the device in the same pocket with your keys and coins, because the surface has no special hardening.
For a price of about 100$, it was clear already before the purchase that the manufacturer couldn’t use a Snapdragon 835 processor and a 6GB RAM, as in the original. The information in the analysis tool was amusing, saying that exactly this processor would be installed. But after our analysis, we found out that, in reality, the device houses an MT6580 processor with 2GB of RAM. An old acquaintance in a new look, because the Galaxy S8 clone already had exactly the same processor. The 22nm SoC has four Cortex-A7 cores, each capable of clocking at a maximum of 1.3 GHz and supported by a Mali-400 GPU. With the modern Exynos 9810 Octa-Core and 6GB RAM, Samsung Galaxy S9+ is way superior to its clone. This is, of course, also confirmed in the benchmarks, in which the clone reaches around 20,000 points.Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result Geekbench Single Result
An original Samsung Galaxy S9+ with 240,000 points delivers more than 10 times this value(!). However, we would like to remark that our copy did not activate the GPU during the test, and thus, we estimated other 3,000 additional points for the clone. The performance corresponds to a smartphone for about 50-70$ and is sufficient for everyday tasks like messenger and Internet. In games, however, the S9+ clone falls to its knees with a slightly higher number of effects. 2GB of RAM are still sufficient for common scenarios, but deliver a very poor speed of 1.282MB/s. The same applies to the 8GB (not 128GB as shown) large memory, which has a reading speed of 118MB/s and a writing speed of 19MB/s. The storage can be extended via Micro-SD through the hybrid slot.
The Galaxy S9+ clone has a heavily modified version of Android 7.0, which looks very alike to the original. Icons are kept in a UX look and also standard apps correspond in layout to the original Korean model. The Bixby button also leads to a corresponding view, which is amazingly similar to the original but serves as a shortcut for the pre-installed apps. Fortunately, important services such as the Google Play Store are included. Apart from a few small jerks, the system did not make any serious mistakes in the test and was always stable and reliable. Here, the copiers have done a better job than many other professional manufacturers. Additional functions such as the Edge Apps could also be used and thus offer added value for the user.
In the copy of the Galaxy S9+ Fake, a 12-megapixel sensor and a fake lens were installed on the rear. Its performance is simply not comparable to that of the original and is qualitatively far away from our low-budget top 3 smartphones. The sensor hardly catches details and the images appear washed out. Problems with exposure and slow focusing are therefore still the least of the problems. As to be expected, pictures in bad light conditions or in darkness are almost useless. Even regarding the selfie camera, our negative impression does not change. The images are similarly blurred with constant background noise and also quite lifeless. During the test, we also noticed that the operation of the camera app and the focusing is very laborious and hardly suitable for snapshots. Video recording, at a maximum resolution of 1280x720p and 15 frames per second without image stabilization, is as bad as photos.
Due to the outdated chipset, the Galaxy S9 clone does not support LTE, but all relevant 2G and 3G frequencies are included. Bluetooth 4.0 and 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi correspond to the usual low-budget equipment. The performance of the listed radio modules meets the expectations of a device in this price range and enables an average range. Phone calls sound good and the person you are talking to also enjoys a reasonable voice quality. Thanks to the hybrid slot, up to two SIM cards can be used, but then you should renounce the storage expansion. During the analysis of the built-in sensors, we were very surprised by the built-in E-compass, in addition to brightness, acceleration and proximity sensors. However, this one, as well as unfortunately the GPS module of our test device, does not work in any application. Therefore, only Wi-Fi technology was able to determine a very imprecise location, which is therefore also not suitable for navigation. Concerning the fingerprint sensor, we were surprised when the very fast working sensor on the rear unlocked the device even with not registered fingers. The logical conclusion is that at this point only a capacitive area was built in, which does not represent a real security for the smartphone. Surprisingly, iris and face recognition were usable via front camera and could not be tricked with a photo. However, their error rate was so high that we deactivated them directly. The speaker at the bottom sounds tinny and is without bass like we are used to from the low-budget range and headphones produce a rather nice sound quality using the 3.5mm headphone connection.
The built-in battery has an average capacity of 3,000 mAh and achieves a run time of 6h in the PCMark test. With normal use, the smartphone lasts a good day, but in the evening it urgently needs to be plugged in. In some cases, the clone delivers better performance than other low-budget devices but is far from catching up with devices with more efficient Snapdragon processors.Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours