It seems the new scam is fake memory chips. These are the chips we need for cameras, phones, and other mobile devices. The old proverb, if it seems too good to be true then it probably isn’t, is at play here.
Samsung Galaxy S Phones
I wanted more storage for my phone. A 64gb SD memory chip goes for US$60 to $100. On sale you may find them in a big box electronics store for $50. You can however, find them on eBay for $5 to $25. But, those chips are very likely fakes. They are very good fakes. The markings on the chip and the packaging all look very authentic. But, the chip doesn’t work.
The blue Samsung package I show here is a fake package. The differences are so minor it is not worth pointing them out. What is important is that this is an older style package. The new Samsung packaging looks like the second image. But, the second image also is a fake. My third picture is from the Samsung site. The two are amazingly similar.
There are threads online about people having problems with their S4 phone losing its connection to the SD Card. People are losing photos. I thought I had bought a defective phone or because I first purchased a SanDisk chip I thought it might be incompatible. A number of people had seemingly fixed their S4 phones by buying a Samsung chip for the Samsung phones. I ran down a Samsung chip and bought it ($26 what deal).
I also started looking for an app to test the phone and memory chip. In the search I came across some comments about fake memory chips. Then I found videos and apps for testing for fake chips. SD Insight is one. SDCard Tester is another. A1 SD Bench tests transfer speed. Fake cards are usually slower than advertized, especially the write speeds.
I think the reason most think the phone may be bad or the chip may have gone bad is that the chip is designed to accept write commands and not error out. Even when writing to areas on the chip that do not exist no error is raised. It is only when the phone tries to read the data and error is noted. Since the phone thinks the chip is bigger than it is, it can’t figure what is wrong and gets confused. The result in my S4 is it disconnects from the chip.
If you do not format or otherwise try to fix the chip while it is in the phone, you can take it out and use a free program named ZAR – Zero Assumption Recovery from your PC. The free version only works with SD Cards. The paid version works with additional storage media. It took awhile, but it got most of my image files back.
On the PC side there is a free program named: H2TESTw. It is hard to find a clean download of this one. But, it runs on your PC and does SD card testing by writing and reading from the disk. I recommend running it on any new card before placing the card in the phone. With bad chips the results can be copy/pasted and printed for helping convince a customer service person it is the chip and not your phone.
A quicker test is Crystal Disk Mark, a free benchmarking tool that runs on the PC. It is demonstrated in the first video.
I got my money back for the fake Samsung chip. But, I had the fake SanDisk too long. So, this was a $20 and lots of time lesson.