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8 July 2021

How to repair your smartphone

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.
Tom Morgan
Phone insurance1

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

In our snapshot study on smartphone repair, we've compared prices from both the mobile manufacturers and third-party repair websites. Our featured brands include Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Google and Xiaomi. Keep scrolling for screen and battery repair costs.

If your smartphone needs replacing entirely, invest in a top-tier replacement – see our selection of Which? Best Buy smartphones.

How much does it cost to fix a broken screen on a mobile phone?

New features on premium smartphones are driving prices (and therefore repair costs) higher. In recent years, we've seen a surge of phones with under-display fingerprint sensors and mechanical, pop-up front-facing cameras – these are intricate components that can be a pain to fix.

Screen replacement costs compared

Make and modelRetail priceOfficial screen replacement costCheapest 3rd party repair cost
Samsung A51£237.05£109£129
(iSmash)
Samsung A21s£142.50£84£99
(iSmash)
Samsung S20£669£229£229
(Repair My Phone Screen)
Samsung S21 Ultra£1,329£259£329
(iSmash)
Apple iPhone 11£594£196.44£94.99
(Phones Rescue)
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max£1,054£316.44£399
(Repair My Phone Screen)
Apple iPhone SE 2020£399£136.44£48.99
(Phones Rescue)

Based on the selection of smartphones we've featured above, the average repair cost for a broken screen is around £170. If your device is covered by warranty, you'll either end up paying far less or nothing at all.

But if you've dug deep into your wallet for a smartphone with a high retail price, you'll want to be extra careful. Smash the display on Apple's iPhone 12 Pro Max, for example, and you can expect to pay £316.44 to get it fixed by Apple if it's out of warranty. You could buy a new Which? Best Buy smartphone for the same price.

From the results above, you'll notice that official repair costs for smashed displays usually work out cheaper compared to third-party alternatives. This isn't the case 100% of the time, though – Apple charges £196 to fix a broken iPhone 11 screen, while Phones Rescue charges less than £100.

Why aren't some screen replacement repair costs listed?

In some instances, we were unable to confirm a repair cost through the official route because the brand needs more information about the phone. This might even require sending the device to them to be analysed.

If you're considering using third-party repair, you may be out of luck here as well. We weren't able to confirm that screens were repairable for five popular phones across any of the seven reputable third-party repair services we checked.

If repair costs are something that might factor into your buying decision – or even if they just constitute 'nice to know' when you're choosing a handset — it's important to do your research in advance.

How much does it cost to replace a mobile phone battery?

Fortunately, replacing a battery is usually a lot cheaper, although in some instances – such as with official costs for Samsung's recent flagships – it can still be extremely expensive.

Battery replacement costs compared

Make and modelRetail priceOfficial battery replacement costCheapest 3rd party repair cost
Samsung A51£237.05£109£49.95
(Timpson)
Samsung A21s£142.50£84£49.95
(Timpson)
Samsung S20£669£229£60
(iSmash)
Samsung S21 Ultra£1,329£259£79.99
(Phones Rescue)
Apple iPhone 11£594£69£49.99
(Lovefone)
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max£1,054£69Unavailable
Apple iPhone SE 2020£399£49£34.99
(Repair My Phone Screen)

Batteries are far cheaper to fix than smartphone displays. In fact, our table above shows that the average repair cost for a broken battery (if you go directly through the manufacturer) is around £85. OnePlus is the cheapest of the bunch, charging just £13 to replace a dodgy battery.

That's reassuring if you want to give your smartphone a new lease of life, but you also need to consider support periods if a phone is more than a couple of years old. 

Use our mobile support calculator to find out if the phone you own is still getting important updates.

How can I get my mobile phone repaired?

The process for initiating the repair varies by brand. Find out how much hassle is involved by checking your brand in the list below.

Samsung repair

If the unthinkable happens and you damage your Samsung smartphone, you have three options if you don't want to use a third party: doorstep repair, pick-up repair or in-store repair.

Choosing Samsung's doorstep service means a mobile repair van will come to you and repair your product. Repairs can be completed on the day of the appointment, although Samsung notes that this depends on the 'realistic repair time for the issue and parts available.'

Pick-up repair means a courier will pick up your device and take it away to be fixed. This can take 'up to 10 days' from the date of collection. 

Alternatively, you can try in-store repair. You'll need to book a slot with a Samsung Expert via the brand's website.

Screen and battery repairs for Samsung gadgets are bundled together. In other words, if you smash your screen, both the display and the battery will be replaced.

See also: Samsung support page

iPhone repair

Before you can bring a broken iPhone in-store, you'll need to make an appointment online or call so a technician is assigned to your case. It's a good idea to back up your important files before you go just in case. Apple also says you should keep a record of your Apple ID and password.

If you'd rather send in your iPhone, you can arrange for a box to be shipped to you by visiting the Apple website.

An AppleCare+ plan can be used to cover screen repair costs. The scheme includes two incidents of accidental damage cover (excess of £25). If you don't have AppleCare+, you'll have to pay the out-of-warranty fee.

See also: Apple support page

Huawei repair

Break a Huawei smartphone that's still under warranty and you obviously won't have to pay up to get it fixed. Meanwhile, out-of-warranty repairs are calculated by adding the spare part price, labour fee (£34) and VAT.

Before you make an appointment online, Huawei advises phone owners to back up and save personal data, then perform a factory reset. It's important you remember to remove your Sim card, SD card and any protective case.

Once you have an appointment, you'll need to take your device and proof of purchase to a Huawei service centre at the confirmed date and time.

See also: Huawei support page

Google repair

Google manages broken phones through the Repair Center page on its website. 

We reached out to Google for estimated repair costs and weren't able to obtain figures for the Pixel smartphone range. This is because Google requires an IMEI number (found in your phone settings) before it will escalate a case and discuss pricing.

See also: Google support page

Xiaomi repair

Xiaomi lists repair costs for each individual smartphone component on its website. The price you pay varies depending on model.

But regardless of the model you own, you'll need to pay a £26.45 'Inspection cost' and £18 for shipping.

See also: Xiaomi support page

Motorola repair

If you send off your Motorola smartphone, the company will send it back or swap it out for a like-new replacement. A repaired device or replacement is usually sent 'within 7 days after receiving the original device'.

Broken screens or 'other physical damage' are not covered by Motorola's standard warranty, so you'll have to pay for the repair separately. The brand says that phones suffering from liquid damage can't be repaired, although they are covered under the Moto Care Accident Protection Plan.

See also: Motorola support page

OnePlus repair

To fix your OnePlus phone, fill in an application on the website and ship out your device so it can be inspected. If a specific part of your OnePlus phone is damaged, there's a chance you can get that individual piece replaced on its own.

OnePlus has a full list of out-of-warranty prices on its website, listing both cheap models like the OnePlus Nord and pricier alternatives such as the OnePlus 9 Pro.

Interestingly, each type of camera lens has a different repair cost. For example, break the rear mono camera on a OnePlus 9 Pro and you'll pay just £1 for a new one. Meanwhile, the rear main camera is £60 to replace.

See also: OnePlus support page

Third-party repair

Most third-party repair websites will ask you to send in your damaged smartphone by post and some even provide a free shipping label. When sending your phone, ensure the device is well protected. Ship it out in the original packaging if possible.

Larger companies are likely to have physical stores dotted around, which might be the more convenient option in some cases. Timpson, for example, says it has more than 1,200 locations nationwide that can take a look at your phone. Meanwhile, iSmash customers can visit one of 32 locations.

Turnaround times will vary depending on the company you trust with your mobile. Pay close attention to what the brand is promising before you start the process. Also, back up your important data before you hand over your smartphone just in case your device gets wiped.

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 the following:

  • 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 back-up 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 than you were with your existing phone.

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

Our 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 a wise move, so consider your options carefully.

Dedicated mobile phone insurance

With dedicated mobile phone insurance, you're covered for repair and replacement costs if your phone is lost, stolen or damaged. Most policies also cover phone accessories and protection abroad, although you should check the policy wording carefully and make sure you don't need to add this to your holiday insurance.

For more details on what phone insurance covers and whether it's worth buying, see our expert guide – mobile phone insurance: how to get the best cover.

Existing insurance

If you have contents insurance, this might already cover you for damage to a mobile phone, although 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 whether cover away from home includes holidays abroad; in some cases this can save you having to take out additional protection.

Find out how contents insurance works, what it covers and typical exclusions to watch out for with our contents insurance explained guide.

Which? calls for improved repair standards for consumers on mobile phones

Which? believes that smartphone manufacturers should make it easier for consumers to repair mobile phones and offer greater access to competitively priced independent repair options. This would prevent high costs from prematurely ending the lifespan of mobile phones.

This includes:

  • Consumers being given a legal right to repair by requiring manufacturers to make spare parts, repair tools and repair information available to third-party repairers at prices that encourage repair, rather than the purchase of a new device.
  • Consumers being provided with warranties reflective of the typical expected lifetime of the device, which our research has found could be on average five to six years.
  • A labelling scheme clearly indicating how repairable a device is, to increase transparency at point of purchase.