A new study from SquareTrade indicates that smartphones are 50% more likely to fail than simple phones over a 3-year period.
SquareTrade’s claims database indicates there is an increased material cost of upgrading to a feature-packed smartphone: 1 in 3 smartphones malfunction under normal use within the first 3 years, compared to about 1 in 5 simple phones in the same time period. And this does NOT include accidental damage from dropping your cell phone or getting it wet.
Why the difference in reliability?
Our experience servicing cell phones indicates that simple phones are just that—simple. They have fewer components to malfunction. We see only 3 basic things that fail under normal use on a plain-jane simple phone: the LCD screen, the internal connections to the motherboard and the power port jack.
The biggest problem SquareTrade observes are internal disconnections of the antenna, speaker, or microphone with over 50% of claims relating to a lost connection to the chip. Coming in second at about 25% of claims are broken power ports. And in a close third place at just over 20% are failures related to screens going white, black or in-between.
Smartphones, on the other hand, are bedeviled by precisely what makes you buy them: features. The added complexity of Bluetooth connectivity, touch pads, full keyboards and big hard drives means that more things can, and will, fail.
Here is how smartphones are dying:
#1 – Loss of features: whether it turns on but doesn’t respond to your frantic button pressing, or doesn’t allow any calls, or won’t connect to Bluetooth, or the touch screen is nonresponsive, roughly 30% of failures we see are related to internal components not working.
#2 – The power port: whether its corrosion, the connector becoming too loose or the internal wire to the motherboard breaking, this represents another 30% of failures observed of phones no longer being able to charge – even after you replace the battery!
#3 – You can’t hear them, they can’t hear you, or you are being disconnected randomly – we see about 20% of failures related to the speaker, microphone or antenna losing connection to the motherboard…and a phone isn’t very helpful as a one-way radio.
#4 – The big screen: the phone works, but about 15% of claims relate to the display back-light going out or the LCD cable is disconnected or gets streaky.
#5 – And the remaining claims relate to a broad assortment of failures such as buttons that fall off, broken USB ports or a camera takes rotten pictures all of a sudden.
So let’s put how Smartphones can leave you Smarting in perspective.
Before you decide to splurge on a $400+ smartphone like an iPhone or Treo…consider this: The cool factor of a smartphone's added features comes with not-so-cool costs that start mounting from the day you buy the phone.
- Price of Phone:
You will generally spend $200 to $500+ for an iPhone, Blackberry or other smartphone. And that often includes some heavy discounting by carriers (e.g., Verizon, AT&T) so they can lock you into a two-year commitment for their phone service. However, if you need to replace your phone for any reason (i.e., it fails in a year), you will have to pay full price for a new smartphone (more like $400 to $800).
- Data Costs Big Money:
On top of your basic phone bill, most carriers charge you a pricey additional data fee so you can access the Internet, download music, send/receive email on your flashy big display. My quick check shows Verizon Wireless charges an additional $25 to $45 a month for data plans, Sprint charges an additional $20 a month, and T-Mobile charges an additional $20 to $30 a month for their data plans. This is really the place where a smartphone adds up big time!
- Lower Reliability:
Our claims data indicates you have roughly a 31% chance of having your smartphone fail over three years vs. only a 22% chance with a simple phone. And, if you aren’t ready to resign for a full 2-year commitment, get ready to pay full retail price for the replacement phone. A fairly priced warranty really makes sense given this reliability data.
Let’s add up the cost of a smart phone:
Simple phones are often free or less than $100 with a 2-year plan
Smartphones generally will set you back $200-$500 when you sign up for a 2-year service plan
None (other than text messaging which you will pay for both for simple or smartphone)
$20 to $45 extra per month (that adds up to $720 to $1,600 over 3 years)
We are seeing roughly 22% odds you will have replace your phone over 3-year time period
We are seeing 31% odds you will have to spend replace…at full retail that is $400 to $800
Extra you spent for that smartphone over 3 years ...
$1,100-$2,600 MORE than a simple phone
So maybe that simple phone you have is looking pretty darn smart now.
If you do buy a smartphone, SquareTrade offers warranties at over 40% less than what you pay Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. SquareTrade’s warranty on a smartphone is a smart decision. Know you can say “NO” to the overpriced warranty offer from wireless stores and big box retailers.
You will always find the best pricing and the best no-hassle warranty at www.squaretrade.com. Just visit SquareTrade within 30 days of buying a new cell phone or most any other consumer electronic or appliances you buy no matter where you buy the item.