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Technology.

12 August 2021

Most reliable mobile phone brands

Which? reliability data can help you choose a smartphone that lasts. We survey owners of the likes of Apple, Samsung and Motorola phones to see which develop the least faults over time.
Alice Williams
Choosing-your-perfect-phone

When a phone develops a fault, it's likely to be due to the battery, as our exclusive data shows. A problem with the battery or charger accounted for 12% of all faults, with the battery quickly losing charge at another 8%.

Knowing how long a brand will last you, which brands develop the most faults and how long you can expect to see problems is invaluable to making a smart buying decision. That’s why we've asked more than 15,000 Which? members to tell us about the problems and experiences they’ve had with brands over the past eight years. 

Our unique survey data reveals when popular brands developed a fault, how serious this fault was and the reasons why products are replaced. We also look at brand loyalty to find out who you turn to time and again, and crucially reveal how long you can expect smartphone brands to last.

Browse our reviews of the best mobile phones, and check our regular round up of the best mobile phone deals.

How long do different smartphone brands last? 

To find out how long you can rely on your smartphone, we calculated an average estimated lifetime for each brand, based on how long respondents were able to keep a product before having to replace it because of an issue that was out of their control. 

Estimated lifetimes should only be used as a guide – there’s nothing to say your smartphone will suddenly stop working when this time period is up. But as a comparative indicator between brands, it’s a useful way to get an idea of how a product you own or are shopping for compares to others. 

Another important consideration with mobile phones is security updates. While iPhones tend to receive updates for five to six years, many Android phones stop receiving them after just two or three. Using a phone that's no longer being updated is higher risk, even if it's otherwise working ok. For more information, read our guide on mobile phone security: is it safe to use an old phone?

Brand
Estimated average lifespan (years)
6
5
4
5
6
5
4
5
5
6
5

The above data is based on a survey of Which? members in July 2020 covering 12,611 smartphones.

How quickly do different smartphone brands need replacing? 

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

Smartphones replaced due to fault after...



Brand
One year
Three years
Five years
1%
35%
84%
4%
32%
77%
1%
49%
88%
3%
54%
88%
12%
72%
91%
7%
52%
93%
1%
46%
93%
5%
54%
93%
7%
26%
65%
1%
45%
87%
4%
59%
92%

The above data is based on a survey of Which? members in July 2020 covering 12,661 smartphones.

How satisfied are customers with different smartphone brands? 

Our survey also reveals how satisfied people are with a brand overall – we use this to calculate a ‘customer satisfaction’ score, based on how likely people are to recommend it. 

Loyalty is also an important factor. Though it doesn’t always correlate directly with satisfaction, some brands have what it takes to keep customers coming back time and again. Our loyalty score is based on whether people stuck to the same brand when they upgraded.

There's a big variation in how the best and worst smartphone brands perform in the test lab, and how customers rate them, but the biggest differences are found in customer loyalty. The best brand for loyalty had 19 out of 20 of its customers buying from them again, whereas the same number abandoned the worst brand when they bought a new phone.

Brand
Customer loyalty score
Customer satisfaction score
9%
54%
95%
85%
17%
74%
21%
60%
40%
84%
6%
64%
32%
71%
5%
67%
57%
77%
7%
70%
51%
90%
74%
81%
26%
73%
11%
59%

The above data is based on a survey of Which? members in July 2020 covering 12,661 smartphones.

Common smartphone problems

A problem with the battery or charger is the most common smartphone fault, at 12% of the total. Batteries losing charge too quickly isn't far behind, at 8%. It's inevitable that your lithium-ion battery will degrade over time,  but you can prolong its life by making sure your phone doesn't get too hot or too cold. Also look for a replaceable battery when you choose your phone, so you can swap it when it dies rather than buying a completely new handset.

Smartphone brands rated

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

How we calculate the best and worst brands

Which? has a wealth of information on Britain's favourite computing 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 more than 15,000 Which? members told us about nearly 100,000 devices. We calculate a brand's reliability and its customer score based on the results of our annual survey.

Our brand 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 awards and won’t recommend any of their products unless a marked improvement in the longevity of its products is shown.