How to spot a fake phone

The Uganda communications commission (UCC) acquired equipment to set up the central equipment identity register (CEIR) a database that contains a list of IMEIs of mobile terminals which are active in the mobile network, according to The New Vision newspaper. IMEI is an abbreviation of International Mobile Equipment Identity, a unique number used to identify mobile phones, as well as some satellite phones. It is usually found printed inside the battery compartment of the phone, but can also be displayed on-screen on most phones by entering *#06# on the dial pad, or alongside other system information in the settings menu on smart phone operating systems.

The equipment acquired by UCC hosts a system that contains IMEI’s that are permitted for use, devices that do not conform to standards and numbers of devices which have been reported stolen or lost. These will not connect to any mobile network, UCC has further gone ahead and provided a feature on its website for subscribers to verify whether one’s phone is genuine with instructions “Type #06# on your mobile phone to gets its IMEI number, a 15 digit code, Fill the number into a text field provided on the website and press the ‘verify my phone’ button. The model, manufacturer and frequency bands of the phone corresponding to the IMEI number are instantly displayed”

How to spot a fake phone

Counterfeit mobile phone manufacturers imitate all facets of a branded phone’s appearance to make their products appear genuine. The phone’s outer shell and screen, the printed logos and branding, the packaging and the included accessories can all be copied, making it difficult to identify whether a phone is fake or genuine. When possible it is always preferable to buy a phone through a registered retailer or reseller who can vouch for a phone’s authenticity.

Research about the phone you are going to buy.

It is important to do a little research before buying a new phone. You should only buy a phone made by a trusted manufacturer. Before committing to a purchase you should know the phone’s specific model number, available colours, features, what software and hardware comes included and what warranty is offered with the product. Information about a specific model of phone can be found on the manufacturer’s website. Once you have this information it will make the job of identifying a fake much easier.

Appearance and Features

On first glance a counterfeit phone may appear identical to a genuine model. On closer comparison you may be able to identify some obvious differences between a genuine and a fake such as: the colour, location of buttons, size or spelling of the brand name. Some fakes are less obvious. Counterfeit phones can have differing features to genuine models, such as dual SIM cards, analogue TV etc. Check the model number and technical specifications of the genuine phone you wish to buy and ensure they match what is being offered. Counterfeit phones may also differ from a genuine in colour availability, memory capacity, camera mega pixels, screen quality and operating system. It is important to compare technical features to ensure the phone is genuine.


Every genuine mobile phone has a serial number to register it to a carrier network. This number is called the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. The IMEI number can be used to verify the legitimacy of a phone. Often counterfeit models won’t have an IMEI number or use a fake one.

If your phone does not have an IMEI number, if the IMEI number cannot be verified or the corresponding information does not match your phone, that is confirmation that your phone is fake and will soon be unusable.