Smartphones are made up of thousands of tiny, intricate components.
Sometimes, when things break, and the issue is obvious, like a cracked screen, it’s easy to take the phone somewhere to have the screen replaced.
However, a lot of the time, when your phone slows down, stops charging, or GPS suddenly stops working, it can be much harder to diagnose the problem. This is why five billion phones will be thrown away globally in 2022.
Smartphone failure study
Here at Green Smartphones, we wanted to find out why smartphones break. Is it true that broken screens and back glass are the most common points of failure, or is it batteries and other internal components that are breaking most often?
To find out why smartphones break, we used Google search data to find out about the different issues that users are complaining about.
We gathered data on complaints about iPhones, Samsung phones, and phones in general, where no specific make or model of handset was specified. We analysed complaints made by UK residents.
|Rank||Complaint||Proportion of total complaints|
|2||Touch screen not working||10%|
|3||Speaker not working||9%|
|5||Microphone not working||8%|
|6||Battery draining too fast||7%|
|7||Camera not working||7%|
|8||Wi-Fi not working||7%|
|9||Bluetooth not working||4%|
|10||Volume button not working||2%|
|11||Power button not working||2%|
|12||GPS not working||1%|
|13||Wireless charging not working||1%|
Most common reasons smartphones break
The top three most common failure points on smartphones that users complain about are:
1. Phone not charging
The number one issue that people face with their smartphones is the inability to charge them.
There are a few different causes of this issue. The most common one is dirt and debris getting in the charging port, which can be solved using compressed air. However, if this isn’t the issue, you’ll have to test whether the cable or power adapter is broken, or whether your phone’s battery is failing, which is possible on an older device.
We’re excited to see how innovations in wireless charging technology help to prevent these types of issues from arising, and also help to reduce the number of power adapters and cables that need to be produced. From our research, far fewer people complained that their wireless charging is no longer working, although this could be in large part because relatively few people use wireless charging at the moment.
2. Touch screen not working
Your phone’s screen goes through a lot during day-to-day use. It’s almost constantly picking up dirt and debris, as well as oil from your fingers, and it’s nearly always turned on, especially if you have your always-on-display enabled. And given that your screen has a high chance of hitting the floor when you drop your phone, it makes sense that it’s a common phone failure point.
We think that phone screens should really be made tougher – it should be a lot harder to break them. Although replacing a phone screen isn’t all that difficult most of the time, since they’re so prone to cracking, many people get rid of their phones at the first sign that their screen is broken.
3. Speaker not working
Surprisingly, the third most common smartphone failure people complain about is their speakers breaking. This was a more common complaint than people saying that their phone’s battery was draining quickly, or Wi-Fi wasn’t working.
If your phone’s speaker breaks, this can be a serious issue, mostly because you won’t be able to make phone calls. Also, the speakers on a phone are typically quite difficult to replace – although they’re on the edge of the chassis, at the top and bottom, they’re not normally easy to get to.
The problem is, your phone’s speakers are exposed to a lot of dirt and debris, because they need to be exposed for you to hear them. Although advancements have been made in recent years with phones getting stronger IP ratings, meaning they’re more water and dust-resistant, it’s still very common for speakers to fail on modern smartphones.
- The statistics gathered were only for certain keywords, rather than all possible search terms. For example, someone who searched “phone speaker not working” would be included, but someone who searched “huawei p40 speaker not working” would not be included. However, we used the same methodology across all smartphone failure points, to ensure a fair comparison.
- This list is not a complete list of reasons why smartphones break. There could be other keywords pertaining to other common smartphone issues that we failed to include.