Service & Reliability Survey 2010: Smartphones

We asked our readers whose smartphones they buy, what goes wrong with them, how good is the technical support they receive, and more.
Written by Charles McLellan, Senior Editor on


Which vendors do you use for smartphones?
We received information on smartphones from 35 respondents. On average, the organisations they worked for used about three (2.86) smartphone vendors each, giving a total of 100 responses. RIM, Nokia, Apple and HTC were the most widely cited smartphone vendors:


Which operating systems are installed on your smartphones?
Not surprisingly, the smartphone operating system picture reflects that of the leading vendors, with Windows Mobile (present on many HTC and other devices), RIM OS (BlackBerry), iPhone OS (Apple) and Symbian (Nokia) to the fore.

The Android platform has not penetrated our sample population to any great extent, although one respondent reported that 'all' their smartphones used Google's OS. Also rare in the survey are phones running any other variant of Linux (Android uses a modified Linux kernel) or Palm's recently released webOS:


Which smartphone form factors are deployed?
Touchscreen smartphones (which include Apple's iPhone and many Windows Mobile handsets) and non-touchscreen QWERTY devices (mostly Blackberries) are among the most prevalent form factors in the survey. Older and more consumer-focused designs like slider and flip phones are rare:


What are the points of failure on your smartphones?
Smartphones should be designed to cope with the slings and arrows of a mobile lifestyle, but how well do they stand up in practice? Our survey asked about 13 points of failure on smartphones and found that the battery and the keyboard/keypad (if present) had the highest incidence of 'very common' failure citations.

Also mentioned at least once in the 'very common' failure category were software, case, touchscreen, screen (non-touch) and camera:


Less often seen as points of smartphone failure — at least in our survey — were ports, SIM/expansion slot, GPS, power input, AC adapter and wireless (GSM, mobile broadband, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth):



How do you rate your smartphone vendor's technical support?
The survey returned more than 10 responses on technical support for four smartphone vendors: RIM, Nokia, Apple and HTC. For RIM and Apple the modal tech support category is 'good', while Nokia and HTC's responses cluster around 'average'. For Apple and HTC, the left-hand tail extends into 'poor' and 'abysmal' territory.


Other vendors surveyed: Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Palm, HP, Motorola, Toshiba, Acer/E-TEN, Airo, LG

How do you rate the reliability of your smartphones?
Our respondents' evaluation of smartphone reliability should be relatively encouraging for vendors. The distributions for RIM, Nokia and HTC all have 'good' as the modal category, while most of the Apple customers in our survey rate their iPhones' reliability highly:


Other vendors surveyed: Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Palm, HP, Motorola, Toshiba, Acer/E-TEN, Airo, LG

How likely are you to repurchase smartphones from your current vendor?
If you're satisfied with a vendor's service and reliability record, you're likely to reward the company with further custom. For RIM and Apple the picture looks pretty healthy. Even so, the tail of 'possibly', 'unlikely' and 'no chance' responses show that some respondents have issues. Nokia and HTC's customers seem more ambivalent about their repurchase intentions:


Other vendors surveyed: Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Palm, HP, Motorola, Toshiba, Acer/E-TEN, Airo, LG


How does your smartphone vendor's environmental policy affect your buying decision?
Most technology companies strive to present themselves as good environmental citizens. Here is Nokia's policy, for example. Of course we applaud such efforts, but do they have traction at the sharp end of the buying cycle?

Our survey, in which only two respondents (one RIM customer and one Apple customer) rated their smartphone vendor's environmental policy as 'paramount', suggests not. However, over time, we expect green issues to become increasingly important to buyers.


Other vendors surveyed: Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Palm, HP, Motorola, Toshiba, Acer/E-TEN, Airo, LG


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