It's been three years since I last updated the phone my mum is using. I went online and found this amazing deal, a Xiaomi Mi 8, for just around S$250. The phone comes with the previously flagship Snapdragon 845, Super AMOLED display and even an Infrared face recognition system!
Upon receiving it, I started noticing weird things about the device. Do note that the device was marked by the seller as 'brand-new' and global variant. The phone even came 'sealed'. At this point, I have already gotten a full refund.
Upon closer inspection, I started noticing everything wrong about the product I received
I have checked the IMEI on the box against the phone itself and it matched! Nice try! Let's look at the other contents of the box...
At this point, I knew I wanted a full refund on the product. That aside, we move on to the phone. The first thing I noticed after turning on the phone was that it was bootloader unlocked! I don't think any manufacturer will sell devices with bootloader unlocked so that was a dead giveaway that someone have been into the phone before. The phone setups fine, and seems to be running the global rom of Xiaomi's MIUI 10.
It even got an update to MIUI 11, then again to MIUI 11 based on Android 10.
Besides the proximity sensor not working, I also noticed that the main camera at the back was unable to focus on any subject (seems stuck).
My conclusion is that, someone out there is selling refurbished Mi 8 as new.
The phone is obviously a Chinese variant flashed with a global ROM. For the Mi 8, Xiaomi implemented some measures that prevent users from locking their bootloader after flashing global ROM, doing so will brick the device. This is the reason why the seller did not lock the bootloader.
Because of the low price, the seller also replaced every accessory that came bundled with the phone with cheaper versions of it. QC4 charger replaced with a standard 5V 2A charger. SIM Ejection PIN replaced with a cheap Chinese knockoff and heck, the phone even came with a preinstalled screen protector (how convenient).
If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. I tried my best to get the platform to take down the listing, but it seems the seller created multiple merchant account selling the same phone. The seller also run them on sale using those accounts one after another. It even went on the platform's best seller list at some point in time.
Many buyers who are buying this would most probably accept the phone. I would think that not everyone received their phones came with non working sensors like mine. Using a phone with a permanently unlocked bootloader has security risks in itself. Smartphone devices we use hold a lot of our personal information in them, so I would never compromise on something like this.
Just a quick update to put some awareness out there.
I hope all of you are staying safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stay at home and be socially responsible.
As always, take care and I'll see you again.
Updated: 12 March 2021
Dazhong Primary School
Bukit View Secondary School
(Diploma in Computer Engineering)
University of Wollongong
(Bachelor of Computer Science - Digital System Security with Distinction)