Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy.

Which mobile phone brand?

Most reliable mobile phone brands

By Oli McKean

Article 1 of 11

We lift a lid on the mobile phone brands that make handsets likely to stand the test of time, as well as the least dependable

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

Smartphones are an expensive, albeit essential, piece of tech. The last thing you'll want is a model that becomes faulty too soon.

That's why we survey thousands of Which? members each year about their experiences with their smartphones. We ask them to tell us about any faults that their handsets have developed, when these happened, and how severe these issues were.

We then crunch the numbers, so that we can reveal the best and worst mobile phone brands for reliability. We've found some marked differences between the most and least reliable manufacturers. While just 7% of phones from the most reliable brands had developed a fault within two years, 32% of those from the least reliable brand had.

When a brand scores fewer than three stars for reliability, its products won't become Best Buys. Fortunately, no mobile brand for which we have enough data sits in this camp. To find out about the top-scoring smartphones you can buy, check out our Which? Best Buy mobile phones.

The table below shows the brands that are victorious in our reliability survey, andreveals those that you should think twice about. We've ordered brands by their reliability score, from highest to lowest.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings in the table below. If you're not yet a member, sign up for a £1 trial to get instant access.

Which mobile phone brands are the most reliable?
Brand Reliability rating Reliability score
93%
88%
88%
85%
85%
81%
80%
75%
73%

Table notes
The above data is based on a survey conducted on 3,783 Which? members June-July 2017.

Key

Member Content

Which mobile phone brand stays fault-free longest?

The graph below shows how the brand that stays fault-free for longest compares with the worst brand and the average. Which? members can see how brands compare for faults, and which are the best and worst, in the table underneath.

Brand name % faults after one year % faults after three years
9% 15%
8% 28%
20% 34%
3% 7%
12% 32%
10% 20%
10% 15%
11% 19%
15% 27%

Table notes
The above data is based on a survey conducted on 3,783 Which? members June-July 2017.

Key

Member Content

How mobile phone brands compare

Our latest survey has unearthed a significant gap between the most and least reliable smartphone brands.

Only 7% of phones from the most reliable brand developed any kind of problem over our three-year survey period, while it's 32% for those from the least reliable brand. Plus, phones from the least reliable brand are more than eight times more likely to break over the first three years of ownership.

The top-rated brand has a few Best Buy smartphones in its line-up, too, making it a worthwhile choice for your next smartphone.

93%The reliability score for the most reliable smartphone brand

We ask thousands of Which? members annually about their experiences with their smartphones. We ask them to tell us which faults have developed, when these happened, and how severe these problems were. Faults are classified as minor, major or catastrophic, based on the following guidelines:

  • Minor A fault that doesn't affect the product's performance significantly or a fault that only occurs occasionally with minimal impact. This issue may be irritating or annoying but it isn't frequently problematic and you can easily work around it. For example, slightly worsened sound quality.
  • Major A fault that has a noticeable effect on the product’s performance. This fault affects how you use the product and can be problematic. For example, the smartphone might frequently turn itself off.
  • Catastrophic A fault that renders the product unusable, with the fault needing to be repaired or parts replaced before it can be used again. For example, the smartphone might refuse to turn on, or the touchscreen might stop working at all.

Any brand that scores fewer than three stars for reliability can't earn our Best Buy recommendation. While there's a big difference between the best and worst mobile phone brands for reliability, none are so bad to earn only one or two stars.

Common mobile phone problems

  • 30% of smartphone faults related to the handset running out of battery quickly, or refusing to charge.
  • 13% of faulty smartphones turned off of their own accord.
  • 10% of issues related to the touchscreen stopping responding.

Quite simply, we're all busy people with more important and exciting things to do than worry about our phone losing juice on a day out. The most common smartphone fault is a battery either running out of battery quickly, or refusing to charge. There are a few things you can do to help boost your battery life, such as stopping apps you're not currently using from running in the background, and reducing the brightness of the screen.

If your touchscreen stops working, it means you can't use the handset at all. While turning it off and on again sometimes solves the problem, it becomes hugely frustrating if this happens frequently.

Other reported faults included problems with buttons, deterioration of sound quality, and applications stopping working.

SHARE THIS PAGE