December 15th, 2010
12:53 AM GMT
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Shanzhai (山寨) is such an awesome word.

It's Chinese slang to describe a range of pirated or imitation goods. But with a difference. Shanzhai products include cellphones, cameras, computers and laptops that try their darndest to look like the real deal.

But Chris Chang of MIC Gadget offers a more nuanced definition. He says, "if a device looks like the authentic iPhone at first sight, we call it an iPhone knockoff. If it doesn't, we just call it shanzhai."

In tech markets like Shenzhen's Huaqiangbei you can score shanzhai versions of everything from Sony PSP players to Nokia phones. But Apple's designs are the most copied, as they are the most coveted.

Chang, a 19-year-old student based in Hong Kong, came by the studio armed with a select array of charming and eyebrow-raising shanzhai gifts including the shanzhai iPad. At first glance, you can imediately tell it's smaller than the real thing. It also runs a rival operating system, Google's Android, and lacks a truly multi-touch screen. In fact, you have to use your fingernails to touch it. But the shanzhai version has a handy feature that Apple left out of its tablet - a micro SD card slot. It retails in China for $135.

Next up, the Magic Mouse Phone. It has absolutely no link to the iPhone and looks just like Apple's mouse. It's a $45 GSM-only handset styled after a much-loved peripheral. Consider it a charming nod to Apple's design savvy. Shanzhai as geek tribute.

And then Chang revealed the very buzzy Apple Peel. It's a skin that turns an Apple iPod Touch into a GSM-only iPhone. When fully charged, it provides 4.5 hours of call time and 120 hours of standby time. Price tag? $45.

It may be a clever hack, but you have to extremely clever to put it together. It took Chang more than two hours to assemble at his first go, and that after jailbreaking his iPhone.

And yet Chang is a big fan, as the Apple Peel showcases Made-in-China tech not as a shameless rip-off or even shanzhai tribute... but as a "magical" example of innovation.

But there is one more thing...

The S-J "iDoll" is designed by MIC Gadget. With black turtleneck, glasses, and New Balance sneakers... it is a remakarable likeness. MIC had 300 figures made and, at just under $80 a pop, they quickly sold out. But then Apple told them to stop immediately, for violating Apple's copyrights and trademarks.

A bit ironic, considering the blog's content. It is after all a celebration of all things shamelessly shanzhai.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Kristie darling,
    That presentation was really lovely.I really like the Magic Mouse Phone and the price is quite good too..Actually China has long shed that image of the home of substandard goods and today it appears to be one of the best places to do business,because of its highly skilled but not-so-appreciated workforce.It's quite amazing the good things that can come out of China these days.
    I must have missed the outcome of the agitation for a better minimum wage staged by Chinese workers a while ago.Did the government oblige the workers?
    I'm convinced Shanzhai is awesome and a really good concept much like branding wouldn't you say?After-all all cars are not the same,but are derivatives of the same concept.The Wheel.
    Darling,it's been another wonderful and precious moment relating with you.I Just Can't Stop Loving You.Honestly.Compliments of the season and I wish you THE BEST GOD HAS TO OFFER ALWAYS.
    Much love from me,
    Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    December 18, 2010 at 2:22 am |
  2. Manuel Vilhena

    Innovation versus copy. A bit of both.

    Manuel Vilhena

    December 18, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  3. Claire

    shanzhai"山寨", a lot of SHANZHAI goods in China.

    December 21, 2010 at 5:49 am |
  4. Faraz

    China will destroy all big brands in 20 years. You'll see it, I'll bet.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:04 am |
  5. iRv Bills

    Me likes a lil bit of that Shanzhai, as long it comes with a fake warranty...

    December 23, 2010 at 8:11 am |
  6. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Kristie darling,
    Compliments of the season and Merry Christmas to you and the rest of the network.It's been a wonderful year and I bet non of you will disagree.My regards to those behind the scenes at CNN Inc and especially those reporting from war zones.It can only get better.
    Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    December 25, 2010 at 2:47 am |
  7. Gilbert Douglas

    That is great in regards to this news .. how things can changed and cause less values ... to the original... clones are the prefect way to done things... smarts and perfect for the changing era that we are in ..

    December 27, 2010 at 1:53 am |
  8. wanderer

    Is china the only country making shanzhai goods? Are chinese the only people making shanzhai goods?

    December 29, 2010 at 5:02 am |
  9. Benj

    People who trust brands won't touch Shanzhai, and this is incontrovertible. Things are going just well.

    January 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  10. Jeff

    looks like some of us enjoy buying those Shanzhai when we travel to China.

    January 18, 2011 at 5:34 am |
  11. Eudes

    ????????????? ?? ???????what did you pathetic ass do for your ctruony then? name one!????????????????: ??????? , ?????(?????)???? ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????To your question, what we do is to promote democracy in this ctruony, letting people there be able to live with dignity and respect. What did you do then? u pathetic loser

    September 5, 2012 at 8:13 am |
  12. Jaime Dilda

    The Micro SD card format was originally created by SanDisk. Earlier it was called as T-Flash; later on it was named Transflash before its renamed Micro SD card by latest. Micro SD Memory Cards protect valuable memory. It offers opportunity for high speed recording and power-free storage. Because of that small form factor and strong environmental specifications are easy to be carried anywhere in times of requirements. Micro SD cards are available in the market with very reasonable price.::':

    Our own online site

    July 10, 2013 at 12:30 am |

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