The life and travails of a smartphone

A recent study of over 30,000 handsets by Onsitego brings out a list of common smartphone problems and the average repair cost.

By Shubhendu Parth

The damage of screens is the most common problem that smartphones suffer. According to a recent report by Onsitego, the company which provides repair services for electronic devices, a smartphone often gets damaged well before it becomes obsolete, and in 71% of cases, the damaged screen is the primary cause of the problem.


This is followed by the booting or starting issue that accounts for nearly 8% of the reported cases, complete device damage (6%), and damage due to liquid (3%). Other issues included battery damage, software issue, charging malfunction, and camera malfunction. The white paper ‘Making Smartphones Last Longer’ is based on the study of 30,000 smartphone failures over a one year period by the company.

The paper also highlights that there is a need to educate consumers on how they can take better care of their devices. “A smartphone may become slow when apps updated to the latest API version become slow and processor-heavy. When this begins to happen, a phone cannot meet the demands of new apps and becomes challenging to use, which in turn slows down the device,” it states.

For devices that were reported to have screen damage, repair or replacement was required in 97% of the cases, while there was a need to repair or replace the back cover in 15% of the cases. Similarly, of the phones with damaged screens, repair or replacement of the motherboard was required in 11% of phones, and in 13% of the cases, the camera and the battery needed to be mended.

In cases with booting problems, it was found that installing a lot of third-party apps that were not cross-compatible with other apps and/or with the OS of the phone resulted in frequent crashes in most of the devices. “Such devices have overheated motherboards and repeatedly shut down. The motherboard had to be repaired or replaced in 94% of such cases, while there was a need for repairing the screen in 55% of the instances. In 19% cases the back cover, and in 15% of the cases the battery also required repair.”

The whitepaper also pointed out that was also common for phones to suffer damage from liquids. Though many phones claim they are water-resistant, the majority of them are not. While some are only splash-resistant, only a few are waterproof. “The average cost of repairing a phone that suffers liquid damage is Rs 9,700 and the motherboard and screen need repair or replacement in 69% of the cases. In 14% of the cases, the device required full-body replacement, depending on the damage. Also, in 12% of the cases, the battery was changed, while 11% of such cases needed replacement of the back cover.”

Onsitego also reported that when a device costing less than Rs 10K or over Rs 50K is damaged, its cost of repair is highest and usually around 40% of the handset price. In case of a device priced between Rs 10K and Rs 20K the cost of repair is often 33% of the device’s price, while for a smartphone priced between Rs 20K and Rs 35K, the average spent on repairs was 27%. The cost of repair for a damaged phone, priced between Rs 35K and Rs 50K, was found to be nearly 32% of the device’s price.

The report was first published in the April 2020 print edition of Voice&Data

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