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Technology.

22 November 2021

Most reliable mobile phone brands 2021

Our independent survey can help you decide which smartphone brands have reliable phones that last. We asked Which? members who are customers of brands such as Apple, Samsung and Motorola about their experiences.
AA
Amy Axworthy
Choosing-your-perfect-phone

We understand how important it is to have all the facts before choosing a smartphone. Whether you are most interested in a long battery life, a beautiful display or the best possible cameras, we’ve surveyed more than 15,000 members to find out more about the problems and experiences they've had with brands over the past eight years. 

Battery problems are by far the biggest fault that can develop in smartphones and they account for a third of our members' problems. However, issues with phones crashing or freezing, as well as becoming sluggish over time can be common too.

Fortunately, smartphones seem capable of lasting a good amount of time. According to our survey, the estimated lifetime – how long a product will last without a fault or a problem - is on average more than 5.5 years for smartphones. Unfortunately, brands don't often support devices for this long. While iPhones tend to receive five or six years of updates, some Android phones stop receiving them after two or three. Using a phone that is no longer receiving security updates is a risk – read our guide to mobile phone security to see how long a phone has left.

In our latest research, we’ve investigated the performance and reliability of some of the most popular smartphone brands including Apple, Samsung, Motorola, Huawei, Google, Sony, Xiaomi, OnePlus and Nokia.

Smartphone brands rated


Which? members can log in to see the scores and star ratings it earned in our latest survey. Not yet a member? Join Which? now to get instant access to all of our reviews.

Brand
Customer satisfaction score
Loyalty score
Estimated lifespan
Consumer lifespan
% replaced within two years
Faults developed within the first two years
M
88
57%
n/a
n/a
25%
0%
M
84
96%
6.3
4.8
11%
1%
M
84
50%
n/a
4
26%
3%
M
84
42%
n/a
n/a
n/a
1%
M
79
76%
6.1
4.8
14%
1%
M
77
52%
5.9
4.7
21%
0%
M
73
23%
5.3
4.4
15%
3%


Table notes Results are based on a survey of 10,716 Which? members who own smartphones, conducted in July 2021. Where 'n/a' is reported, there isn't enough data.

  • Customer satisfaction rates how happy the respondent is with their smartphone brand and how likely they would be to recommend it to a friend.
  • Loyalty score is the percentage of respondents who have or would choose the same brand again when they upgrade.
  • Estimated lifespan is the average length of time a smartphone would last before needing to be replaced due to a fault or significant drop in performance.
  • Consumer lifespan is the average length of time before a respondent upgraded their smartphone for any reason other than a fault or significant drop in performance.
  • % replaced within two years shows what percentage of the total number of smartphone replacements occurred within two years.

Best vs worst smartphone brands

How long will my smartphone last?

We have calculated an estimated average lifetime for each brand of phone. This is based on our own members' experiences when they have to replace a phone because of a fault that's out of their control.


The above data is based on a survey of Which? members in July 2021 covering 10,716 smartphones.

The three most common smartphone faults

1. Battery problems (33%)

The majority of reported faults by far are to do with the battery life, the charger or the phone quickly losing power. You can improve the time it takes to charge a phone through buying a more powerful charger, although this doesn’t do anything to help battery life. Often powerful processors and impressive displays on expensive models drain batteries faster, but manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung seem focused on improving these in their new models. If you don’t need your internet on all the time, turn this off to improve battery life. Dimming the screen usually works too.

2. Phone crash (8%)

8% of members in our survey with a phone fault reported that their smartphone crashed or froze. When this happens, it’s worth reducing your storage and memory because this may be slowing things down. Restarting or resetting the phone altogether can help too.

3. Slow and sluggish phones (7%)

To try to alleviate sluggish phones, cleaning up your storage and clearing your cache will help the processor. The cache stores lots of information to speed up your experience using apps and web browsers, meaning it could be storing things you don’t need. Always double check that your phone is not due an update because running an older operating system can slow things down. 

How we calculate the best and worst smartphone brands

We surveyed more than 15,000 Which? members and asked them about the technology products they own including smartphones. 

We calculate a brand's reliability and its customer score based on the results of our annual survey. We combine these with our rigorous lab tests to form our recommendations. 

Our scores take into account what’s important to consumers. We will take away Best Buy status if a phone is going to run out of security updates within one year.

Head to our smartphone reviews 

We independently test more than 80 smartphones a year at all prices from £80 to nearly £2,000. Our extensive scientific tests mean each phone is tested under identical conditions so they are directly comparable. 

Know which smartphone you want? Use the links to go straight to our reviews and find the model that works best for you: