Which mobile phone brands develop the most defects?

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Battery issues, crashes, and poor performance are all issues that smartphone owners notice with their devices over time.

New Which one? the data, based on ownership of more than 20,000 smartphones purchased over the past seven years, reveals which phone brands develop the most defects and how quickly these can occur.

Fortunately, many of them can be fixed, either for free or at a lower cost. Read on to find out more.


Check out our guide to best smartphones for 2022 to see which models impressed in our rigorous lab tests.


The Best and Worst Cell Phone Brands for Defects

As you can see from the table below, smartphone brands differ quite a bit when it comes to the chances of developing a fault in the first few years – and it might surprise you where the most popular brands, Samsung and Apple, are placed.

Table Notes The findings are based on a survey of 20,659 smartphones belonging to Which? members and members of the public. Sample sizes indicated in parentheses after the mark. The phones were purchased between 2015 and 2022. Research conducted in March 2022.

Sony phones have developed the most defects among those studied above. Regarding, 1 in 5 Sony phones have developed a fault after only three years of ownership, which corresponds to the duration of certain telephone contracts.

On the other hand, the brand that developed the fewest defects was Xiaomi with a staggering 96% seeing no defects after five years. Releasing seven phones so far this year at a range of price points, they could be a brand worth considering.

Samsung, Apple and Google are the most popular brands on the market, but they are in the middle of their competitors for the number of defects they develop.

However, only 11% of defects affect smartphones within three years of owning them, so there’s not too much to worry about when it comes to a phone’s hardware if you want to keep it for longer.


You can filter our cell phone reviews by brand, to see the scores of each model in the range during our tests.


What are the most common cell phone faults?

1. Battery issues (35%)

Without a doubt, the biggest problems affecting smartphones are related to the battery. This includes rare cases of battery swelling or failure, but the most common are reports of battery life deteriorating significantly over a short period of time, accounting for a quarter of all reported faults. A phone losing its charge quickly or becoming very sluggish or sluggish was an issue for less than 1 in 10 people.

Overall, the battery life of the phones is improving. But if you notice the situation getting worse, there are things you can do to help. Turn off your internet connection when you’re not using it or turn down the screen brightness to help out in the short term. If your battery is still too low to support, consider buying a replacement battery instead of upgrading the entire handset. Find out prices and more in our guide to cell phone repair.

2. Slow and sluggish phones (9%)

The second most common fault to develop in phones is that they become sluggish or sluggish over time.

The easiest way to stop this is to restart your phone every few days to clear memory and all apps running in the background. Also avoid installing many apps and uninstall the ones you don’t use. You should also install software updates regularly and as they become available – as well as important security patches and bug fixes, these often include optimizations to help your phone run more smoothly.

3. Phone crashes – i.e. apps quit unexpectedly or shut down (6%)

The third most common fault in our survey is phone crashes, although the odds are still quite low with just 6% of smartphone owners experiencing it.

Like when your phone seems slow, try restarting your phone and uninstall apps you don’t need. Also, make sure apps are regularly updated. You can turn on auto-update in the App Store so you don’t have to manually check for updates.


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4. Phone freezing (5%)

Only 5% of respondents have seen their smartphone freeze.

If this happens, force a restart according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If this continues, try freeing up some of your phone’s memory by deleting apps, photos, and videos that you don’t want to keep. Or add a micro-SD card to expand your phone’s memory (if your phone supports it). If that doesn’t work, you might need to factory reset your phone as a last resort.

5. Cracked screen (5%)

Many of us fear breaking our screens by dropping an expensive phone, and while it’s not a fault as such, 5% of survey respondents found it had happened to them. If you’re worried, use a case to protect your smartphone from occasional drops.

Cracked screens are usually a more expensive problem to fix, but if you shop around you should be able to find a good deal. See prices and more tips in our mobile phone screen repair guide.

What faults are not as common?

Worried about losing your photos or messages? Our survey data suggests there is no reason to be with just 1% reporting these issues over a seven-year period. Cases of software update issues came in at 4%, overheating phones at 3%, and speaker failures at just 1%.


See the full survey results, including customer satisfaction scores and more, in our guide to what brand of cell phone to buy.


What else should I consider when buying a cell phone?

With only 13% of smartphones showing defects over five years, which ones? the data suggests that we could keep our phones much longer than most phone contracts. However, although the hardware can last, most of the time important security updates are not delivered to smartphones long enough to continue using them safely.

Security updates are important to prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities in a phone’s software. The longer a phone goes without security patches, the higher the risk. Top manufacturers support phones for at least five years from the phone’s initial release date. This includes Apple and some Samsung and Google phones. The worst only aim to support handsets for two years regardless of price. Find out when your phone should lose security updates in our guide to cell phone security.

With the number of flaws being so low for smartphones, buying an old second-hand phone could save you money on your next handset with little compromise. Just be sure to choose one of the strongest smartphone brands above for a reduced risk of developing defects and a brand with a good period of security support. Find out more in our Guide to buying a used phone.


Who? questioned more than 16,000 Which one? members and members of the public in March 2022 about their experience with technology products, so that we can help you decide which brands to buy. Discover the best brands of mobile phones, laptops and printers in our guides below.

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