HOW TO SPOT A FAKE XIAOMI M365
This post first appeared here.
The Xiaomi M365 came to widespread prominence in Europe and North America in 2018 when scooter hire companies Bird and Lime put them on the streets of many cities. This had the (not completely unforeseeable) effect of creating a surge in retail demand, which contributed to a global shortage as Xiaomi struggled to keep up. Both Lime and Bird moved on to the Ninebot-Segway ES2. In turn, the global shortage in M365s produced a growth in the fake market, with most copies coming out of Eastern China.
Many of these Chinese companies advertise their scooters as "original Xiaomi M365" electric scooters despite them being copies. As crazy as it seems that a company can get away with such flagrant disregard for honesty, trademarks and copyright, this is the world we live in. To make matters worse, such companies often use images from Xiaomi's own marketing on their sales pages.
Spot The Difference
But how do you avoid buying a fake Xiaomi M365? It can be very hard to tell a fake M365 from a real M365 by looking at it. Indeed, the companies producing the fakes go to great lengths to make their products look real. Often, a fake will be missing the Xiaomi serial number, which is one possible way to spot a fake. However, this requires taking a close look at the e-scooter in person and a fake Xiaomi serial number could be put on a fake scooter. The image below shows the location/format of M365 serial number.
The innards (such as the battery and motherboard) of a fake will be different but you are unlikely to see the innards of the scooter before purchase (if ever). However, there is one simple question you can ask to weed out the fakes from the authentic Xiaomi scooters before purchase, and that question is "What app works this scooter?". If the scooter does not work with the official Xiaomi Home app, then it is a fake. More often than not, the app the fake scooters use is the MiniRobot, a generic scooter app. Thus, should you come across an M365 for sale at a suspiciously low price, be sure to ask about the app.
Mi Home App vs MiniRobot App
A fake M365 may work reasonably well but it is unlikely to have been built to the same standards as the realthing. Added to this, Li-ion batteries can be dangerous and you would not want to be riding or charging a scooter with an unsafe battery. Xiaomi, on the other hand, is a reputable company that has recalled scooters when a safety issue has been discovered.