According to the Telegraph newspaper, pictures of a booming trade in 'refurbished' iPhones have emerged from south-east China, where broken handsets are cannibalised for components that are then used to create fully-working devices.
Tired and broken iPhones are making their way to China where they are stripped for parts and used to build complete handsets, according to photographs taken by an anonymous source.
The booming trade for rebuilt phones reportedly sees technicians scavenging working components from old handsets and using them to construct fully-working devices in polished cases that appear brand new.
The images, taken by an anonymous photographer and distributed through news agency CEN, show a makeshift phone factory in a small shop where several workers sit around a glass cabinet littered with hand tools and empty iPhone cases.
In one photograph a worker is seen adding a new sticky cover to the screen of a freshly polished iPhone 4S. In other images there is what appears to be fake Apple packaging awaiting a handset.
According to the photographer, these handsets appear new and are sometimes sold as such in China to unsuspecting buyers.
They said: "The only way to tell is to open up and look inside and who does that when they buy a new phone? They are carefully polished to make them indistinguishable from new devices.”
The informer said that the centre of the business has developed in Shenzhen in southeast China’s Guangdong province, and that the iPhones are smuggled into China as it is not legal to bring them in openly.
"They even know how to put codes on the iPhones again to make them indistinguishable from the brand-new models. And it costs a fraction to buy up the parts and build a second hand phone rather than buying a new one, and by selling them as new there was a lot of money to be made," they added.