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Most reliable mobile phone brands

By Tom Morgan

Unique Which? reliability data can help you choose a smartphone that lasts. We survey owners of the likes of Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Motorola phones to find the best brands that develop the least faults over time.

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The results of our smartphone reliability survey show that if you've got a problem with your mobile, it's probably related to the battery. In fact, batteries that refuse to charge (or quickly lose their charge) account for 18% of recorded faults in our survey.

Knowing which brands develop the most faults and how quickly can be an important buying decision. That's why each year we ask more than 10,000 Which? members to tell us whether they are happy, or have experienced problems, with their smartphone in our unique reliability survey.

Our survey data takes in to account the fault rates reported by smartphone owners plus the severity of these faults and the speed with which they occurred after they'd been bought.

In our latest analysis, we've looked at the performance of the biggest smartphone manufacturers – including Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Motorola – and have calculated a reliability rating for each, so you know which brands to choose and the ones to avoid.  

In this article:

Difference between the best and worst smartphone brands

As you can see, there's a noticeable difference between the top-performing brand for average Which? test score (75%) and the brand in last place (52%). Without enlisting the help of our expert smartphone reviews, you run the risk of buying a dud.

The most reliable smartphone brands 

The table below summarises this year’s reliability results. Brands are ranked by their customer score, which relates to whether their customers would recommend it. The more stars for reliability, the fewer the problems reported.

Only logged-in Which? members can view which brands achieved the ratings and verdicts in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access. 

Brand Reliability rating Reliability score Customer satisfaction score
87% 72%
86% 60%
83% 90%
82% 74%
81% 82%
80% 75%
76% 64%
74% 64%
74% 73%
74% 68%
71% 59%
Table notes
Results based on feedback from 6,404 smartphone owners, surveyed June-July 2018.

Key

Member Content

Common smartphone problems 

As part of our annual reliability survey, we question Which? members over faults they've experienced while using their smartphone. This year, we've seen that the most common fault is related to smartphone batteries that won't charge or lose charge faster than they should - 18% of respondents said this was an issue.

Sadly, there are plenty of other issues that can affect your smartphone. Around 13% of Which? members noted an issue with their phone freezing and becoming unusable, while another 7% mentioned issues with specific applications such as email clients, music players and web browsers.

Over 10% of owners of smartphones from our worst-rated manufacturer reported that they had experienced a fault on a year-old device.

But if you've purchased a smartphone from the brand with the highest reliability score in our survey, you're less likely to suffer from a faulty mobile. Our table-topping brand  this year earned an impressive reliability score of 87%. Only 8% of owners with a smartphone from this brand had experienced a fault on a four-year-old device.

Which smartphone brand stays fault-free for longest? 

The graph above shows how the brand that stays fault-free for the longest compares to the worst brand and the overall average. Which? members can see how brands compare for faults over a five-year period in the table below.


Only logged-in Which? members can view which brands achieved the ratings and verdicts in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.
 

Brand name % faults after one year % faults after four years
6% 8%
3% 11%
8% 12%
6% 13%
5% 15%
7% 15%
2% 17%
8% 15%
7% 18%
8% 19%
11% 20%
Table notes
Results based on feedback from 6,404 smartphone owners, surveyed June-July 2018.

Key

Member Content

How we measure faults and reliability in smartphones

The table data takes into account minor, major and catastrophic faults (see below).

  • 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, loss of data such as a phone contact.
  • 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, a cracked display.
  • 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, a hardware issue that means the screen stays blank even when the smartphone is on full charge.

Smartphone brands rated 

Choose a brand from the list below to find out more detail about its performance in our survey.

Apple smartphones overview
Number tested in the past three years 11
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 11 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 6,404 smartphone owners conducted in June-July 2018. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 11 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Want to know how Apple smartphones score for reliability? The results of our latest survey reveal all.
  • Using feedback from thousands of Which? members, we've identified common faults affecting Apple's iPhone range.
  • Respondents were asked how satisfied they were with their smartphones, and how likely they were to recommend them to others.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
BlackBerry smartphones overview
Number tested in the past three years 6
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 11 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 6,404 smartphone owners conducted in June-July 2018. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 11 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • BlackBerry smartphones are known for being secure, but are they reliable? See how BlackBerry compares against rivals like Samsung and Huawei.
  • Users report on a range of faults with BlackBerry phones, including battery problems, display issues and hardware failures. See which are most likely to occur.
  • We reveal BlackBerry's customer score – determined by how satisfied people are with their smartphones, and how likely they were to recommend them to others.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Google smartphones overview
Number tested in the past three years 3
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 11 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 6,404 smartphone owners conducted in June-July 2018. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 11 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Google smartphones score for reliability, and how Google fares against rival smartphone brands such as Samsung and Huawei.
  • Discover the most common issues found with Google smartphones as users report on a range of faults, including battery problems, display issues and hardware failures.
  • See how Google fared based on its customer score – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with their smartphones, and how likely they were to recommend them to others.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
HTC smartphones overview
Number tested in the past three years 12
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 11 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 6,404 smartphone owners conducted in June-July 2018. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 11 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Our annual reliability survey shows how well HTC smartphones hold up over the years.
  • After quizzing Which? members on problems affecting their smartphones, we've identified the most common faults.
  • As part of our annual survey, we've calculated a customer score for HTC smartphones - see how that score compares with other big-name brands.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Huawei smartphones overview
Number tested in the past three years 18
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 11 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 6,404 smartphone owners conducted in June-July 2018. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 11 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • If you're thinking of buying a Huawei smartphone, check the results of our reliability survey to see if Huawei is a brand you can trust.
  • Feedback from thousands of Which? members has allowed us to uncover the most common faults affecting Huawei smartphones.
  • How does Huawei's customer score compare to rival brands including Apple and Samsung? 
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
LG smartphones overview
Number tested in the past three years 11
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 11 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 6,404 smartphone owners conducted in June-July 2018. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 11 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Unlock the results of our reliability survey to see how LG smartphones perform versus rivals.
  • Which? members have told us about the faults they've experienced on their LG smartphones.
  • Can LG top our table for customer score?
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Motorola smartphones overview
Number tested in the past three years 13
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 11 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 6,404 smartphone owners conducted in June-July 2018. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 11 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • If you're a buyer on a budget, you may be tempted by a new Motorola smartphone. Before you part with your money, see how the mobile brand scores for reliability.
  • Unlock our full results table to find out the most common faults affecting Motorola smartphones.
  • Are Motorola smartphone owners satisfied with their purchase? Our reliability survey results have the answer.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Nokia smartphones overview
Number tested in the past three years 8
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 11 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 6,404 smartphone owners conducted in June-July 2018. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 11 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Nokia smartphones score for reliability, and how Nokia fares against rival smartphone brands such as Samsung and Huawei.
  • Discover the most common issues found with Nokia smartphones as users report on a range of faults, including battery problems, display issues and hardware failures.
  • See how Nokia fared based on its customer score – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with their smartphones, and how likely they were to recommend them to others.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
OnePlus smartphones overview
Number tested in the past three years 3
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 11 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 6,404 smartphone owners conducted in June-July 2018. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 11 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • OnePlus aims to offer premium specs at an affordable price, but do OnePlus smartphones age well?
  • Find out how OnePlus smartphones score for reliability compared to big-name rivals such as Apple and Samsung.
  • By unlocking our full results table, you can find out which faults are reported regularly by OnePlus owners.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Samsung smartphones overview
Number tested in the past three years 20
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 11 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 6,404 smartphone owners conducted in June-July 2018. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 11 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Our reliability surveys, combined with our extensive lab tests, mean we can recommend the best Samsung smartphones you should buy.
  • Samsung owners have reported on a range of faults with their smartphones, including battery problems, display issues and hardware failures. See which are most likely to occur.
  • Every smartphone brand in our reliability survey has an overall customer score. See how Samsung's customer score compares to Apple's.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.
Sony smartphones overview
Number tested in the past three years 12
Number of Best Buys
Average test score
Brand reliability rating
Customer score (%)
Loyalty score
Typical spend
Table notes Average test score based on results of models tested in the past three years (as of 11 October 2018) that are still available. The customer score and brand reliability rating are based on a Which? member survey of 6,404 smartphone owners conducted in June-July 2018. The customer score is based on whether members would recommend the brand to a friend, and reliability is based on members’ experience of that brand. Table last updated 11 October 2018.

Key

Member Content
  • Find out how well Sony smartphones score for reliability, and how Sony fares against rival smartphone brands such as Apple and Huawei.
  • Discover the most common issues found with Sony smartphones as users report on a range of faults, including battery problems, display issues and hardware failures.
  • See how Sony fared based on its customer score – we asked those in our survey how satisfied they were with their smartphones, and how likely they were to recommend them to others.
  • Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings and verdicts. If you're not yet a member, Join Which? to get instant access.

How we calculate the best and worst brands 

Which? has a wealth of information on Britain's favourite smartphone brands. Every year we ask Which? members to tell us about the technology products they own - from how likely they would be to recommend a brand, to how reliable the products are once they get them home. This year nearly 10,000 Which? members told us about more than 20,000 devices. We calculate a brand's reliability and its customer score based on the results of our annual survey.

Our reliability surveys, combined with our extensive lab tests, mean we can recommend the best smartphones you should buy.

This data is crucial for our testing, too. If a brand falls far below the category average, we take away the manufacturer’s Best Buy and won’t recommend any of their products unless a marked improvement in reliability is shown.

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