ISLAMABAD - The trend of purchasing inexpensive Chinese cellular handsets is rapidly increasing among the masses and the cellular shops containing such handsets are fast mushrooming across the country. Besides the twin cities, the sale of Chinese handsets is witnessing an upsurge in Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad and even the smaller cities as well. On account of cheaper prices, improved quality, long-lasting nature, multiple functions and sturdy built, the demand of these mobile phone sets is flourishing along with the cellular accessories. The traders of Chinese handsets told this correspondent that they had resorted to the sale and purchase of Chinese stock, as it was a profitable business nowaday. In the twin cities, Faizabad, Commercial Market, Murree Road, Raja Bazaar, Bank Road, Aabpara Market, G-10 Markaz, Karachi Company and Peshawar Morr are the focal points of sale and purchase of Chinese handsets. Shehbaz Soomro at G-10 Markaz told this scribe that the demand of branded cellular phones was decreasing among people. "Instead of spending too much money on purchasing a mobile phone of any prominent cellular company, customers prefer to spend less and get the similar quality and Chinese mobiles serve the same purpose." Soomro stated, adding that China-made replicas of any cellular sets were available in the market. When asked about the durability and working of such products, Naveed Mehmood at Peshawar Morr argued that unlike the past, the quality of Chinese mobile phones had substantially improved. "Around a couple of years ago, when Chinese cellular products had hit the market, they couldn't grab much attention of the consumers owing to their substandard quality and after-sale complaints. However, Chinese phones have shown remarkable improvement indeed and seem to become market leader in near future," he added. Market evaluations revealed that a fully loaded Chinese mobile phone with some latest functions and features was available at a price ranging from Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 as compared to the price range of Rs 25,000 to 30,000 of imported and branded sets. A senior United Nations (UN) official, requesting anonymity, told TheNation that he had purchased a Chinese handset containing dual SIM features, TV, radio and 1.3 mega pixel camera with unlimited video recording options at Rs 8,500 about a year ago. "One year has passed and my cell phone is working perfectly. All of its accessories are working excellently," he said. The traders of Chinese phones claimed that there was no cheaper and durable replacement for dual SIM handsets than the Chinese ones. "A reasonable dual SIM phone is available from Rs 4,000 to Rs 7,000. The price exceeds if you want additional functions and advanced features," mentioned the shopkeepers at Karachi Company. In addition, TheNation witnessed that Chinese batteries, hand-free devices, mobile chargers, phone casings and covers were available between Rs 150 to Rs 300. Responding to a query regarding the provisions of warrantee for Chinese mobiles, traders told that the span of warrantee period varied from set to set depending upon its quality and price range. Ordinarily, 3 to 6 months warrantee was offered against cheaper mobile sets, while one-year warrantee was offered for the sets with higher prices and advanced features. "The after-sale complaints of Chinese handsets have substantially reduced. These handsets work well for years," they added. However, some leading cellular dealers in Jinnah Super and Blue Area deplored the sale and purchase of Chinese handsets. "We make heavy investments to provide our customers with valued services and standardised cellular products, but these Chinese phones are spoiling our market," said Hamid Nawaz in Blue Area. Another trader Asif Qureshi alleged that the sale and purchase of Chinese mobiles was illegal as those sets were brought from border areas through smuggling. "All those dealers who are selling Chinese cellular products are badly affecting our business by illegal means. The law enforcement agencies must conduct a crackdown on them to put them behind the bars," he demanded.