This $179 Galaxy S5 Clone Will Definitely Fool You

It has the same textured back as the Galaxy S5, the same home button, and the same 13-MP camera lens. You’ll even find the same TouchWiz interface and wallpaper as Samsung’s flagship handset. In fact, the only way you’d be able to tell that this $179 smartphone from China from a Samsung Galaxy S5 without close examination is by looking at the logo on the back, which says “No.1″ rather than “Samsung.”  

We had a chance to spend some time with the No.1 S7, a very well-designed clone of the Galaxy S5, and were impressed with how well it mimicked the original’s look and feel. Unfortunately, when we dove below the surface, it became obvious you get what you pay for.

Samsung Galaxy S5 and No.1 S7

MORE: iPhone 5s vs. Samsung Galaxy S5: And the Winner Is…

Screen

We immediately noticed that, while the No.1 S7’s 5.1-inch screen wasn’t as vibrant, bright or sharp as on Samsung’s AMOLED display. In fact, the clone’s screen is a mere 960 x 540 pixels, compared to Samsung’s 1920 x 1080 panel. At least the No.1 S7’s display uses IPS technology, which promises decent viewing angles.

Galaxy S5 (left) and No.1 S7(right)

Software and UI

We don’t know whether No.1 re-engineered Samsung’s TouchWiz Android skin or took a Samsung ROM and modified it, but the S7’s interface looks identical to the Galaxy S5’s in almost every way, from the look of the lock screen and app drawer to the quick settings menu that appears when you pull down the notification shade and the full settings menu.

We did notice a couple of key things missing from the No.1 S7’s software. First, there’s no Multi Window mode. While there’s a side nav bar that lists apps like the multi window bar on the Galaxy S5, it doesn’t actually allow you to drag two apps on to the screen. All you can do is tap a shortcut on the bar to launch a single app. 

The camera app looks a bit like Samsung’s, with the same icons for mode and settings, but it has none of the functionality you’ll find on the Galaxy S5. There’s no real-time HDR, no drama shot, no eraser mode, no Best Face or any of Samsung’s other special modes.  There’s simply the option for HDR or panorama, two things that are available on any Android camera. 

Though the Galaxy S5 has a fingerprint reader, the No.1 S7 does not. Forget about using a finger to unlock your phone, to pay with PayPal or to access your specially encrypted data. As you might imagine, there’s also no Samsung Knox enterprise software. We also did not see the Samsung browser, Samsung app store, Group Play or S Voice.

MORE: Samsung Galaxy S5 Bloatware Removal Guide

The clone phone apparently supports Samsung-like eye and gesture controls such as Smart Pause, Smart Stay and Smart Scroll, as all of these were available through the QuickSetings. In fact, as we were using the web browser on the phone, it kept scrolling up and down as we tilted the handset. An eye icon in the notification bar showed us when it recognized that we were staring at the screen, just as it does on Samsung phones with Smart Stay or Smart Pause enabled.

No.1 S7 App Drawer

The No.1 S7 does include a copy of Samsung’s S Health fitness app, but as far as we could tell, the app cannot read your heart rate like the S5 can. In fact, the heart rate monitor on the back of the phone appeared to be fake; we’re not sure if it’s actually a working component at all.  When placed side-by-side with a real Galaxy S5, the monitor on the S7 looked like it was painted on or possibly a sticker.

Camera

The No.1 S7 has a 13-MP back-facing camera and 5-MP front-facer as compared to the 16-MP / 2-MP cameras on the Galaxy S5. We didn’t get a chance to shoot any photos ourselves, but our colleagues at Mobilegeeks.com, who showed us the device, took several pictures as part of their review of the No.1 S7 and found the images somewhat washed out.

Performance and Gaming

While the Samsung Galaxy S5 packs either a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU or a Octa-core Samsung Exynos processor with 2GB of memory, the No.1 S7 has a much less powerful 1.3-GHz MediaTek MT6852 quad-core chip with just 1GB of RAM. In our brief hands-on time, we found the clone’s UI less responsive than the Galaxy S5, but still acceptable. However, when the team at Mobile Geeks benchmarked the S7, they found the device significantly slower than the original, particularly on graphics tests and games. That said, Mobile Geeks was able to play the first person shooter Dead Trigger 2 on the S7 without a hitch.

Battery

The No.1 S7 comes with a 2,800 mAh battery just like the Galaxy S5. Also like the S5, the No. 1 S7’s back is removable so you can swap the battery out. Though we did not attempt to swap batteries back and forth with the real Galaxy S5, both batteries were the same size and shape, leading us to believe that they are probably compatible. Mobile Geeks did not run a battery test on the No.1 S7 but found the battery life disappointing in everyday use.

Samsung Galaxy S5 (left) vs. No.1 S7 (right)

MORE: 10 Smartphones with the Longest Battery Life

Ruggedness

While Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is built to survive 30 minutes under water, the No.1 S7 makes no such claims. Even though it has a port cover over the USB connector, we wouldn’t count on this device to survive a dunk or spill.

Samsung Galaxy S5 (left) vs No.1 S7 (right)

Availability and Final Thoughts

As a knockoff phone, the No.1 S7 isn’t going to show up on the shelves at Best Buy or any other major North American or European retailer. However, users outside of China can purchase it from an online distributor such as cect-shop.com, which currently lists the S7 for $179.13. You can find more details, benchmarks and photos by reading Mobile Geeks’ review of the No.1 S7.

If you like the look and feel of the Galaxy S5 and are willing to compromise on performance, battery life, screen quality, software, camera and durability — pretty much everything — the S7 at least looks like its predecessor for less than a third of its full retail price (an unlocked Galaxy S5 goes for $600 to $700). However, we don’t anticipate that many shoppers will be willing to make all of the above trade-offs.

AUTHOR BIO
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. nick Says:

    I nearly got stung buying a second hand s5 today. It was exactly like the s5 except for quality of screen and some functions that showed when I was dialing a number and also the camera.
    I had actually done op deal, but had taken photos of the guy and his car. 30 seconds after we completed the deal I had a panic attack because I didn’t feel right with it. I pulled over and tried to get the guy on the phone to cancel the deal. Would u believe he was also panicking as he thought I was a cop. He got very aggressive, wanted our of deal, why was I taking pictures etc and wanted to meet and get out. It took me until now to really realise I was lucky I followed my instincts. The labels on the phone were all perfect matches, including behind the battery. The paper battery cover was the same but a little faded. I had a note3 with me and had bought a new s5 from a store the week before so I had some reference.
    Scary stuff and happy my girlfriend didn’t do the deal, as planned.
    Cheers
    Nick

  2. Melita Says:

    ciao a tutti ,io non so’ gli altri ma io ho preso un clone s5 da http://www.cloneitalia.com lo pagato 239 euro ma è fantastico ,secondo me è migliore dell’originale ha tutte le applicazioni identiche e tutti i sensori, è meraviglioso va velocissimo ,la mia amica ne aveva preso uno simile in un altro sito,sempre octacore e la pagato 180 euro + spese ma non ha nulla a che vedere,sono identici d’esterno tranne che quello della mia amica e marcato no.01 , ma non c’è paragone la fotocamera e la velocità in generale non ha nulla a che vedere, il mio sembra migliore dell’originale,da oggi farò acquisti solo da loro,davvero un ottimo servizio .ciao

  3. Hollski Says:

    I intended to buy a second hand S5 when the word ‘copy’ in the ad stroke me. Lucky I found this site!

  4. Ruby H. Says:

    The No.1 S7 is riddled with bugs. Even No.1
    admited that ver 03 that the phone ships with has issues that render the phone useless. Don’t believe me? Just Google ‘No. 1, bugs, S7, Google Player, GPS’. If you don’t know how to ‘flash’ a new ROM, you’re out of luck. Even with the latest ROM, many features still don’t work.
    In short, the target audience of these phones is unsavvy consumers from developing nations who think they’re getting a great deal when in fact they’re getting ripped off. Caveat emptor.

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