Shanzhai Phones: Knock-offs are Knocking on Africa's Door

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Mar 10, 2010

Vodafone's release of a $15 cell phone earlier this year at the GSMA Mobile World Conference made waves in the mobile industry, but the phone may have some stiff competition. Shanzhai phones coming out of China provide smartphone capabilities with prices that are significantly lower than phones from Western mainstream brands. describes the shanzhai (alternate spelling shanzai) as “1. mountain fortress/bandit 2. a vendor, who operates a business without observing the traditional rules or practices often resulting in innovative and unusual products or business models.” The production of knock-off phones in the Shanzen region of China is having an impact on the mobile industry as a whole. The shanzhai phenomenon is relatively new. New York Times explored the shanzhai phone explosion noting: