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How to repair your smartphone

By Tom Morgan

If you're torn between handsets, repair cost could be a key factor that sways your decision. Our expert guide explains how to spot a good deal.

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Flagship mobiles are getting pricier, which means you could be forced to pay a hefty fee if you smash the display. Before you contact the manufacturer, it's worth looking at third-party alternatives to see if you could save some money.

New features on premium smartphones are driving prices (and therefore repair costs) higher. This year, we expect to see a surge of phones with under-display fingerprint sensors and mechanical, pop-up front-facing cameras.

Smash the display on Apple's iPhone XS Max, for example, and you can expect to pay £326 to get it fixed by the tech giant if it's out of warranty. If the damage sustained by the iPhone comes under 'other damage' (faults not related to the display), that number could rise to a whopping £596.44. For the same price, you could buy a brand new Which? Best Buy smartphone and a Best Buy smartwatch.

In our snapshot study on smartphone repair, we've picked a trio of popular, premium mobiles - the Apple iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S9 and Huawei P20 Pro.

Keep scrolling for deals on screen and battery repair, or see our selection of Best Buy smartphones.

How much does it cost to fix a broken phone? 

From looking at a selection of popular flagship smartphones, we can see that out-of-warranty screen repair costs can go beyond £300 depending on the phone you own. OnePlus is the cheapest of the bunch in this case, while Apple's most powerful iPhone to date sits at the other end of the scale.

Not every big-name smartphone brand lists repair prices online. But if you own a smartphone from Apple, Samsung, Motorola, LG or OnePlus, use our tool to check screen repair and battery replacement fees:

Phone repair costs for other brands

If you're dealing with a broken smartphone that isn't made by one of the brands mentioned above, it might be a bit more difficult to find out exactly how much your phone costs to repair. Reach out to the company's repair service in-store, online or over the phone, or of course you could use a third party. 

This could save you money, but you'll want to know that your mobile is in safe hands. Below we compare repair costs across three popular handsets, and outline some other important considerations to take on board.

Cheapest way to get a mobile phone screen replacement 

When it comes to replacing a damaged screen, should you stick to the manufacturer's own service, or try third party? Here's an overview of the deals we found:

If you decide to get your iPhone fixed by Apple, the price you pay is dependent on the type of damage, and whether or not you're covered by AppleCare+. If you pay for the service, you're covered for two incidents of accidental damage and only have to spend £25 as a service fee. Applecare+ coverage (for 2 years) starts at £89 for the iPhone SE. It costs £129 for the iPhone 6s, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, or £149 for the iPhone 6 Plus, 7 Plus, 8 Plus and XR. If you own an iPhone X, iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max, expect to pay £199 for Applecare+ .

FoneFunShop (which offers a mail-in service) had the cheapest price of the websites we looked at, charging £183.33 for iPhone X screen repair.

Samsung told us that if your S9 has physical damage, it's counted as an out-of-warranty repair - only manufacturing faults result in a free fix. The estimated maximum cost of screen replacement for the Samsung Galaxy S9 lands at £219, but that could rise if additional work is needed. MyTrendyPhone is a touch cheaper.

Official Huawei phone repairs are handled by SBE UK. We contacted the company and were told that a pricing estimate wasn't possible without first sending off the phone. If you want to send off your mobile for repair, Huawei will ship out a jiffy bag and a pre-paid label. Total turn-around time is said to be around 8-10 days. The cheapest quote from a third party we received came from MyTrendyPhone at £242.

Cheapest way to get a mobile phone battery replacement 

If you're on a budget, you might want to consider using a third party for battery replacement. Here's a look at some recent quotes for the phones we're spotlighting:

If you're struggling with a faulty battery on an out-of-warranty iPhone X, you'll have to pay £65 to get it sorted at the Apple store. Using Team Knowhow could save a tidy £35.

Samsung told us that you could have the S9's battery replaced for free, provided you're dealing with "defects in materials and workmanship". The company advises contacting your nearest Samsung Service Centre to have the device inspected. Note that if your device is physically damaged, repair is always chargeable. The cheapest third party quote we had came from Team Knowhow at £39.99.

Huawei is willing to repair a faulty battery for free, provided the issue is a manufacturing problem and the P20 Pro doesn't have any physical damage. If the device is out of warranty, you'll have to send it off for a quote. Alternatively, you can try iMend for £49.99.

How to find a reputable repair service 

Assuming you opt for a third-party repair service, you'll need to decide whether or not to hit the high street or use a mail-in service. The high street is convenient, but costs can be high depending on where you go. A mail-in service is easy to arrange online, but you could be waiting weeks for the return of your mobile.

When picking a company to handle your smartphone, remember:

  • Do your research - check customer reviews to make sure your mobile is in good hands.
  • Be prepared to wait - if you're using a mail-in repair service, ask the company how long you'll be without your phone. You might need to arrange for a temporary backup phone while you wait.
  • Check your software - poor battery life could be improved by downloading the latest software update to your smartphone. See if those changes have an effect before going ahead.

Should you repair a broken smartphone yourself? 

Probably not. The process of repairing a smartphone yourself can be frustratingly fiddly, especially now that very few phones have easily removable rear covers. If you don't know exactly what you're doing, there are clear safety concerns, and you could do more harm to your mobile than good.

Buying a second hand or refurbished phone 

If you're faced with a large out-of-warranty repair fee, buying a replacement refurbished smartphone is also an option. Phones that have been officially refurbished by the manufacturer or retailer should come with a warranty, typically for one year, so you may find yourself in a better position that you were with your existing phone.

Be more wary of buying phones that claim they are refurbished but don't have a warranty, or buying second-hand phones from individuals on site like eBay. You could bag yourself a real bargain, but might find yourself in trouble if you have problems.

Out expert guide on How to buy second-hand or refurbished mobile phone has more details.

Insuring your phone against loss or damage 

As we've shown, repairing a mobile phone can be an expensive business. Making sure you're protected against loss or damage is probably a wise move, so consider your options carefully.

Dedicated mobile phone insurance

With dedicated mobile phone insurance, you're covered when it comes to repair and replacement costs if your phone is lost, stolen or damaged. Most policies also cover phone accessories and protection abroad, though check the policy wording carefully and make sure you don't need to add this to your holiday insurance. Read our expert guide on mobile phone insurance for more.

Existing insurance

If you have contents insurance, this might already cover you for damage to a mobile phone, though check the terms carefully and speak to your insurer if in any doubt. Accidental damage and cover away from home are two key terms to enquire about, as well as any excess you have to pay - which may be different for each. Also check to see whether cover away from home includes holidays abroad - in some cases this can save you having to take out additional protection. For more, read our guide on contents insurance.

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