Android handsets top hardware failures list

Android handsets top hardware failures list

Summary: Android device returns costing mobile operators a staggering $2 billion per year.

TOPICS: Hardware, Mobility

Android handsets are more likely to suffer from hardware faults than Windows Phone 7, iOS or BlackBerry handsets, according to research published by wireless experience management experts WDS.

WDS examined more than 600,000 support calls received over the past 12 months and found that Android handset hardware failures are twice as common as for iOS devices, with 14% of all Android support calls related to hardware failures. By comparison, only 11% of Windows Phone 7 calls were because of hardware failures. iOS did even better, with only 7% being down to problems with the hardware. BlackBerry handsets come out on top, with only 6% of the support calls being related to hardware failure.

Hardware-related support calls:

  • Android: 14%
  • Windows Phone 7: 11%
  • iOS: 7%
  • BlackBerry: 6%

WDS also offers a breakdown of hardware failures, which makes interesting reading:

Source: WDS

Source: WDS

WDS estimates that Android device returns alone is costing mobile operators a staggering $2 billion per year, with each handset return costing operators up to $130. While this might seem bad, Android does have a advantage over the competition, and that is that it is deployment across multiple hardware reference designs and component variants. This means that the Android brand itself is unlikely to be associated with a specific hardware issues.

The report also looks at the importance of handling hardware issues properly:

When hardware failures do occur, operators must take care to protect their consumers against potentially unbalanced and negative attention. Loyal consumers are both an asset to a brand and a threat to its competitors through the display of ‘oppositional loyalty'. This is the term used to describe the expression of unfavorable bias toward an opposing brand and its consumers (for example, Apple vs Android ‘fanboys'). The smartphone category has become a hypercompetitive environment and the prevalence of brand rivalry both within the industry and amongst consumers has formed a promising hook for media attention. Where an underlying theme of hardware failures can be linked to a specified brand, rival brands and consumer groups very quickly leverage this opportunity to launch an attack.

In other words, the 'fanboys' can make or break a handset.

On the subject of fragmentation, WDS believes that Android fragmentation 'has driven additional cost into many operators' businesses, either through support costs or product returns' and that 'the only way to truly combat both hardware and software version fragmentation would be to slow down the pace of development and/or mandate tighter deployment requirements.'

Full report can be found here [registration required].

Topics: Hardware, Mobility

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  • I found this almost meaningless.

    Without the total number of calls for each platform, this data does not mean much. It needs to be normalized out based on the number of phones of each type the carrier has of each type.

    As it is, did WP7 only have 50 support calls while BB or iOS had 400,000? Without that, this does not mean much.
    • RE: Android handsets top hardware failures list

      Taker a look at the Guardian website tech section where there is a bit more detail. Call volumes overall were roughly in line with market share other than for WP7. The $2bn figure seems pretty speculative.
      John Forbes
    • Missing info

      iPhones do not cost back to the carrier but to Apple.
      Based on this the iOS numbers are inaccurate.

      Do any other phones follow the Apple return guidelines?
      • RE: Android handsets top hardware failures list

        @rhonin Yes, All Motorola handsets go directly to the manufacturer.
      • More than repair costings that's has a rotten core

        Iphone's had a hude problem (might still have) with phone casings. Yet the stats list andriod as worst in class. Ha. Most iphone user's nearly had cracked cases until recently. Where's this data in the stats??
  • RE: Android handsets top hardware failures list

    Completely meaningless. Hardware problems have little or nothing to do with the OS. A breakdown by manufacturer would be relevant.
    • I disagree that they do not go hand in hand


      A large part of the problem would seem that while the iOS, WP7, and Blackberry OS's are installed on mid range to high end hardware, Android, since it is a free OS, is routinely placed on low end hardware (the free, to $29 handsets) in an attempt to make money from the sales of phones.

      And the less expensive phones are likely more prone to breakage and manufacturig issues.

      That, coupled with deficiencies in the OS (as all of the OS's have some issue) may exacerbate internal problems with the low end hardware, where the said OS is unable to compensate for the hardware limitations.
      Tim Cook
      • RE: Android handsets top hardware failures list

        @Mister Spock I know you guys like to take this approach blaming "cheap hardware" but in my experience the original droid had excessively high digitizer failures and Samsung hardware is very poor quality in my opinion! <br><br>Out of all the other hardware manufacturers, Nokia and Apple included, I have yet to see even one instance of the memory becoming corrupt on their handsets but I have seen this quite a few times with Samung Products including their tablets.<br><br> I know all of this can be attributed to their modding of the OS (Which is the most excessive of any vendor out there) but even still, it rests squarely on the shoulders of Samsung.
      • RE: Android handsets top hardware failures list

        @Mister Spock

        Yes, Android tends to be on cheaper phones (as well as some expensive ones), but it's not Android that causing the hardware issues. A high end Android phone could be better than any other on the market; it's misleading to imply that Android is at fault.

        That's why I feel it's meaningless.
    • Heads we win, tails you lose

      A breakdown by manufacturer would be relevant when discussing market share as well, but if the Andoid fans want to live by the "Android is #1!" canard, they should be willing to die by it as well.

      We can bet that the carriers are keeping track of which hardware causes them the most grief; they're out looking for replacements now.
      Robert Hahn
      • True, the carriers will stop selling phones with issues

        @Robert Hahn But the bigger problem is Android really is a mess and that is the source of my frustration (phone locking up, apps not updating, one way audio.)

        I had one screen issue right out of the box, but it was under warranty and so it was replaced for free. Im hoping ICS is a big improvement...if not, then I may have to go with Apple...
  • Interesting, but only goes to show what I've been saying

    Google/Android is taking a similar if not identical path ad MS/Windows. A lot of MS's problems were not related to Windows. (some were of course but certainly not all). No it was the quality of the equipment that Windows was placed on. Still many a time the actual consumer came away with a bad taste in his/her mouth and thought that Windows was at fault and hence MS. This will happen with Android. Then there is going to be quality issues both hardware related and support related as carriers and OEM's strive to squeeze every penny out of their devices they will be very hesitant to invest in testing, R&D, and support personal. It's just the way of price wars. Finally there is blank ware. Again as a result of price wars OEM's and carriers will be drawn to bundled of software all designed to get more out of the consumer on their devices and what a mess that shall be. Again effecting the individuals Andriod experience.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • RE: Android handsets top hardware failures list

      @James Quinn

      The difference is that people with Windows PC's know that they are running Windows....but most people with Android phones don't even know what 'Android' them it isn't an 'Android phone', it's an HTC or Samsung or Motorola or whatever...
      Doctor Demento
      • Perhaps at this time but it is early yet.

        @Doctor Demento ... At first back in the early days everyone thought they were buying a PC related to IBM in some fashion cause they were looking for a system similar to what they were using at work and to eveyone IBM meant business. As time passed IBM faded and MS and or Windows gained. With time Android will become known and yes the OEM as well as the OS will in one degree or another be held to blame.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • RE: Android handsets top hardware failures list

      @James Quinn I do not agree completely since there was some serious deficiencies with Microsoft OS(turned off firewall in xp was not a good idea, vista was a disaster) at different points of time, though they are quite less now compared to before. Having said that you are right that android has become the windows of smartphones in the sense that there are a huge number of manufacturers trying to assert their separate identity to consumers, yet at the same time churning out half-baked phones.
  • RE: Android handsets top hardware failures list

    Okay, so Android handsets have roughly 56% of mobile operating share world wide and Apple has roughly 26%... Android handset failures are 14% to Apple handset failures at 7%... What's the problem again? These seem pretty even to me.
    • Lack of intelligence lead to dumb comments

      @Peter Perry

      Apparently you are too dumb to understand basic info. The percentages of failure shown are based on the total per OS, not on market share.

      Even a kid in 5th grade understands that simple fact .......
    • RE: Android handsets top hardware failures list

      @Peter Perry

      It is not '14% of all returns' it's '14% if all Android phones', there's the difference....
      Doctor Demento
  • RE: Android handsets top hardware failures list

    From working on most of these devices I can say that if its not a cracked/broken screen, they have bricked it. As anti-apple as I am I can (shakes head) say that a built in recovery option (ie. DFU mode) or the built in recovery rom option in more expensive phones like htc's and droid would save most of the calls/repairs that need to be done. People that own idevice's know this best via itunes restore.

    This is just one thing missing that should be in all phones for all platforms. Being already familiar with the process regardless of manufacturer would cut down support/returns. Most android phones (not droid's, htc's) need something like Rom Manager/ClockWork mod installed for any kind of recovery feature at all. Better hope they know before something happens or oops, off to the manufacturer...
    With apple products you just plug it in and hit restore unless there is a hardware failure and the device just isn't detected. I'm not saying it has to be exactly like apple's process, droid's and htc's have the feature built in with button combonations but to the average user not so tech savvy, how are they supposed to know? See my point?
  • RE: Android handsets top hardware failures list

    Funny how this document points out that Android has a large list of flaws and not iOS, yet in your breakdown of hardware failures you clearly show there is a higher percent of iOS phones with problems after adding up the percents to get a grand total. :P