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Wholesale Samsung Galaxy Note from China?

January 24, 2014 by Andrew Minalto - 10 Comments
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Dear Andrew,

I love the page and all the advice. I’m going to invest in your eCommerce Magnates course.

I’ve decided to buy from Ali Express as a tester and just to get a feel for the whole importing business plan. Just a bit of advice needed if you don’t mind.

I’m looking at buying a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N900. Selling for approx $260. The feedback is fantastic on the product and they offer warranty and he is a good communicator etc.

I’m just worried that the product is a fantastic copy of the real deal or whether it would be the same product as I would be buying from the UK. If you understand what I am saying.

I will be buying to sell and obviously wouldn’t want to sell something that isn’t 100% genuine. Basically it all seems too good to be true.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to your reply


Hi Chris!

Thanks for your email and question.

You bring up a very important query about wholesale BRANDED (Samsung, Nokia, Apple etc.) mobile phones currently selling on Ali Express and other China-based websites.

Are they the real thing? No, I’m afraid they are not…

Just like with any other branded products, you CAN’T get them in wholesale from Mainland China. These mobile phones in China actually cost MORE than in the UK or USA. The fact that they’re manufactured in China doesn’t mean you can buy them directly from factories there or from a seller on sites like Ali Express.

Samsung, Apple, Nokia and other such companies have very strict controls in place to NOT allow any direct sales out of the factory.

And this applies to ALL branded products. You can’t buy them in wholesale from China!

I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record as I have mentioned this in dozens of my blog posts but still – every week I receive emails from people like you Chris, asking me the same question.

Even if we ignore this completely and look just at the price; on Ali Express you can buy a so-called “Samsung Galaxy Note 3” for $200-$300.

Now, let’s check the price on Amazon.com for the ‘same’ phone: 

As you can see, it sells for $600-$700 or more, depending on the configuration and memory size.

So buy a top selling phone for $200 and sell it for $600… Let me just say this – NO ONE in the mobile phone industry has such HUGE margins!


Even if you bought thousands of phones in one order directly from Samsung, you would NOT achieve such high margins. Not even close.

The mobile phone industry works on very, very small margins (often less than 10%) so to think that you can buy a phone for 30% of RRP is just dreaming. It’s impossible. As you yourself said, it’s “too good to be true”.

So what are these Samsung Galaxy Note 3s selling on Ali Express?

They are high (or low?) quality copies. Fakes. Chinese made clones that visually may look identical to the real thing (apart from the materials often being cheaper/different) but inside you’ll find un-branded and inferior components.

Chinese are very good at making copies (surprise, eh?) and mobile phones are no different. You can buy a clone of ANY phone in China and even for much less than the $200 advertised on Ali Express.

Will those phones work? Yes, probably… for some time… And they will even have all the logos you want printed on covers and even some parts. But that doesn’t make these clones the real thing. They’re still copies and not genuine Samsung phones.

Can you import them to re-sell on eBay and other places?

  • If they have Samsung (or any other brand) logos on them (anywhere) – NO, you can’t buy and re-sell these phones as that would be buying and selling counterfeit goods. A crime, pure and simple.
  • If they don’t have logos (they’re generic Chinese phones that look like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3), I would still recommend staying away. Even without logos, often these items will breach some sort of IP right, like copy patents or registered designs.

If you want to sell cheap smartphones and import them from China, then you need to look for real Chinese brands that produce at least decent quality phones you can rely on. Still, don’t expect the same quality and longevity as the phones from high tech brands like Samsung.

If you’re looking for genuine mobile phone wholesalers for the big brands, you can try finding Honk Kong based suppliers (on the same Alibaba, Global Sources or Made-In-China). But be very, very careful as scammers are dominating this market and 9 out of 10 suppliers will be scams – either they will take your money and disappear or send clones.

It’s much safer to deal with established UK or USA based mobile phone wholesalers, with a proven track record, and premises you can visit and verify.

Hope this helps Chris!


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  1. Shaun Collier

    You should do some research. I just cringed upon reading this. Android is, for a lack of better words, a malleable platform. Many of these cheaper Chinese variants aren’t bad because they’re just Chinese. That kind of view, coupled with the “omg 9/10 Chinese are horrible people” are very ignorant. Yes, many Chinese scammers exist. It’s an extremely large nation. However, many more genuine and honest sellers deal online too. It’s called using your noggin. DHGate, for example, is a reputable marketplace as far as my experiences go. If a seller does not deliver on its promises you also get a £15~ bonus on top of your full refund.

    I actually own a genuine Note II. Over the course of 24 months I have paid out of my nose for one, and that’s just how it goes. I recently ordered two clone Note IIIs for less than £122, express delivery. They are far more powerful than my Note II, and as far as the longevity argument goes, I’ve had my Note II for about fifteen months and it has a lot of scuffs, despite taking decent care of it. Knock-off or not, no screen is safe from accidents. I’d rather escape the clutches of phone contracts just spending what I want with Giffgaff, and pay just over £60 for a clone that’s very good, rather than paying £400 for a standalone Note III. I should have done this beforehand. Even if it lasts half the time an original would, it’s a fraction of the cost. The hardware is great. Pretty much the only thing left in the equation is brand name attachment. Is it really that important?

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Shaun,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I think you have misunderstood this post – it’s NOT about how good or bad Chinese phones/clones are. It’s about the fact that you can’t get GENUINE branded mobile phones from China in wholesale. Key word – GENUINE.


  2. While I agree that you’ll probably receive a fake product by using aliexpress, your statement about the mobile industry’s profit margins is wrong. Apple iPhones cost about $200 to manufacture, so yes, phones are actually marked up that much.

    Proof: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9242677/Teardowns_reveal_Apple_s_customary_high_margins_for_both_iPhone_5S_i_and_i_5C

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment.

      We’re not talking about manufacturer’s profitability here…

      We’re talking about profit margins retailers get in the phone business. And these margins are extremely small.


  3. I want to know how trustworthy is ali express when buying from them?

    Thank you!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Aldo,

      You do not buy from Ali express but individual sellers.

      So you have to check each seller (feedback, comments) separately to see if particular seller looks reliable or not.


  4. Hello dear , I want to know if it,s cheap to buy used branded laptops & mobile phones from aliexpress. For resale purpose . Thank you for your honest response.

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Kenneth,

      No, DON’T DO IT!

      Stay away from anything branded on Ali Express and other Chinese suppliers. Otherwise you’ll get scammed or receive fakes.


  5. Marisela G Diaz

    Hello: how can I have two bank accounts on my personal paypal account,

    and link one bank account to ebay (have it already) and the other BANK ACCOUNT linked

    to the other auction site I want to work with, so the money from each auction sites stays

    separated in my personal paypal account

    Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Andrew Minalto

      Hi Marisela,

      Unfortunately this can’t be done (as far as I know).

      You’ll need two separate PayPal accounts to keep these transactions from two different auction sites separate.


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