Shanzhai ji (bandit phones) came into existence in 2005, the year that mediatek, a semiconductor design company from taiwan, introduced an innovation that significantly reduced the cost and complexity of producing mobile phones.
Shanzhai cell phone, or “shan zhai ji” in chinese, refers to cell phones manufactured by unauthorized home based or small factories on the south east coast of china they usually copy the design and the function of branded phones and sell them at much lower price.
Since then, the shanzhai ecology has moved beyond cloning and enabled a wealth of iterative innovations including dual-sim for frequent travelers to avoid roaming charges, seven-speaker phones for workers to listen to music at construction sites, and custom-designed phones for migrant populations unable to afford the latest smartphone. Shanzhai is a chinese neologism that means “fake,” originally coined to describe knock-off cell phones marketed under such names as nokir and samsing these cell phones were not crude forgeries but multifunctional, stylish, and as good as or better than the originals.
Half of the shanzhai phones produced were exported to markets such as india, eastern europe, africa, south east asia, the usa and even australia fake iphones originating from china regularly surface on ebay australia.