The Dangers of Buying Phones From AliExpress

The Dangers of Buying Phones from AliExpress

I was on Facebook when I came across the question stated below. “What are the implications of buying Redmi Note 13 5g from Aliexpress, even though it will come through a Nigerian vendor, considering the fact that it wasn’t launched in Nigeria. Your opinion please.” So in this article, we’ll be looking at the dangers of buying phones from AliExpress.

Now I understand that there are non Nigerians on the channel so I have to expand my answers to incorporate you guys as well. This also very much could answer any question like this that you might have regardless of where you live.

So there are several implications of buying a phone from AliExpress. Let’s quickly go through them one after the other.

1. Shop ROM

A ROM in smartphone terms doesn’t refer to the storage. It usually refers to the software that runs on your phone.

Most phones on AliExpress are made for the Chinese market. Chinese variants use Chinese based software which the rest of us can’t read and lack access to Google Mobile Services (GMS).

So most shop owners tend to unlock the bootloader and flash a semi-custom ROM on the device which should enable people from other parts of the world to be able to use these phones.

This may seem like a foolproof solution until you see the downsides.

  1. Device may not be able to access Google services and if it does, there will be hiccups here and there.
  2. The device won’t be eligible for OTA updates from the manufacturer because of it’s unlocked bootloader. Even if the bootloader is locked, there will be incompatibilities with the shop ROM that will defeat whole process.
  3. Sensitive apps won’t work on a shop ROM e.g. Bank apps. There are workarounds but these aren’t foolproof.

2. Network bands

I have spoken at length about what network bands are and if you weren’t here, please feel free to search this channel or click on the following links:

Network bands are how ISPs transmit their signals to their consumers wirelessly.

These phones may lack the hardware needed for the reception of some of the network bands that ISPs in a certain country use. A good example being the (in)famous Glo band 28.

3. OEM Warranty and support

Buying phones outside of their designated regions means that you won’t be able to claim warranty if something goes wrong or access tech support. A brother on this channel once went to Xiaomi’s HQ in Lagos with a defective (read: deadboot) Poco M3 and they refused to accept it stating that it wasn’t for this region. The plot twist is that he said he bought it from their official store on Jumia.

Benefits of Buying Phones from AliExpress

That being said, buying phones on AliExpress has its benefits such as:

1. Better hardware
2. Faster processors
3. More affordable prices
4. Access to better phones that may not be available in your region

These, and more, lure people to buy smartphones from AliExpress but as you can see, it’s not exactly a rosy affair.


Besides these three that I have mentioned, there could be more dangers of buying phones from AliExpress such as being sent the wrong device, device not coming at all or being damaged or stolen along the way.

However if you’re bent on such a route, ensure that you’re buying the international version of the device from via a trusted vendor or AliExpress store. Ensure to use paid shipping to guarantee the delivery of your phone. That’s it from me. Cheers and happy weekend.

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