If you’re in the market for a new TV or a laptop that ticks the boxes for work and play, it’s natural to want to read reviews to see how it performs. However, it’s just as important to consider how long a new purchase might last.
We’ve analysed more than 92,000 tech products with the help of more than 15,000 Which? members, to reveal which brands lasted the longest and left consumers most satisfied. The research allowed us to create an estimated lifetime for each brand – that’s how long, on average, a product lasted before it needed replacing.
On some, you can expect a decade or more of high-quality use. For others, it’s less than half that.
Some brands are better than others at leaving customers satisfied and willing to recommend them, and some have mastered the art of customer loyalty – there’s just something about them that brings you back time and time again.
Find out more about the sorts of issues we encountered with popular tech. Our guides, linked below, offer an overview of brand performance and a detailed breakdown of how each brand fared, along with the most common issues to consider before buying.
TVs – picture problems
Our research found that issues with the picture were the most common for TVs – 35% of all faults were down to this.
But on the whole, TVs tend to have a decent potential lifetime, if looked after. This will be some reassurance to those looking to justify splashing out on a new set in the sales.
On average, 46% of models were fault-free after five years, with two brands lasting significantly longer on this front.
Interestingly, brand loyalty isn’t too strong with TVs – the best saw just 50% of customers choosing the same one again when they upgraded. With new features and ever-improving picture quality driving this market, and big discounts making sales periods something to savour, choosing the right set is more important than ever.
Laptops – battery troubles
The most common issue people encounter with their laptops is a severe drop in battery performance over a very short space of time. In fact, our research indicates this accounts for up to 23% of faults.
If you’re lucky enough to evade these issues, laptops have the potential to last – three of the brands we featured in our research have an estimated lifetime of over 10 years,
Customer loyalty is polarised – the worst brand saw just 15% of people sticking with it when they upgraded to a newer model, so shopping around for something a bit different is certainly appealing, if you pick the right model.
Printers – inkjet or laser?
Buying a printer can be quite hit and miss compared with some of the other tech products we looked at – the worst brand in one category had an estimated lifetime of five years less than the best.
Laser printers were also far more variable than inkjets, even though the best brands in this category seem to have the potential to last far longer.
Faults were varied, too. The most common were issues with the paper feed, although these only account for around 15% of problems with both inkjets and lasers.
Perhaps as a result of this variability, people aren’t especially brand loyal. Only around a third of users, on average, stuck with the same brand when upgrading.
Mobile phones – batteries and charging
Battery life is a common bugbear for many mobile phone owners, particularly those who like to keep their devices for as long as possible. This accounted for around 20% of all faults, which is frustrating when you consider the lifetime potential of some brands.
On average, a phone could last you five years before developing a technical fault that requires it to be replaced – according to our estimated lifetime data. Even in the case of the least reliable brand, just 28% of handsets developed a fault within the first three years that meant they needed replacing.
This would seem encouraging, but another important issue to consider is a lack of security support. Some brands stop supporting devices with important updates a little over two years after launch, and without these your phone is less secure to use. We’re fighting to help improve this situation for consumers, so we at least have the option to keep our devices for longer. Read our guide on mobile phone security for more.
Smartwatches and fitness trackers – watch that strap
The biggest issues we found with both types of wearables is one that’s been occurring for years – a broken strap. Some 30% of fitness tracker faults and 20% of smartwatch faults, cited this as the most common problem. As such, we’ve taken the decision to withhold Best Buys from any models that don’t offer removable straps, and would therefore become all but unusable if the strap breaks.
Fortunately, most models do now offer removable straps so you can accessorise and, of course, get your wearable back up and running if you encounter this dreaded issue.
And that’s a good thing, because generally speaking people are fairly satisfied with brands – on average, around 70% of users are satisfied enough with their fitness tracker or smartwatch brand to recommend it to others. There are standouts, though – the highest satisfaction score is 86%.