Mobile phones tend to lead hard lives.
Thrust into pockets and handbags, clattered against worksurfaces and knocked off bedside units, these compact devices endure a great deal of unintentional misuse.
Despite being rigorously tested in factory conditions, nothing can truly replicate the treatment phones receive in their owners’ hands, or the day-to-day mechanical wear they experience.
Even a short drop might crack the screen on a handset without a case or cover, while increasing software complexity heightens the risk of software failures or fatal errors.
As a result, many of us will require handset repairs at some point.
Handset repairs under contract
Don’t think you’ll receive red-carpet service from mobile providers, even with a pay-monthly contract for a phone that’s technically still owned by your network operator.
They’ll probably say the handset has to be sent away for a couple of weeks.
In exchange for a refundable deposit, you’ll receive a temporary handset with your SIM card installed – typically a very basic model with no 4G or push notifications.
You won’t be able to install any apps, so communications platforms like WhatsApp are out of bounds – other email and social media platforms will only be accessible through websites.
Handset repairs for SIM-only customers
SIM-only customers own their devices, so it’s their responsibility to fix any faults.
There are plenty of mobile phone repair companies in existence, though using them might invalidate any manufacturer warranty – which we discuss in more detail below.
A quick internet search will identify local proprietors – some are iPhone specialists, while others double as IT companies.
You’ll almost certainly have to leave the faulty mobile with them – and they won’t dish out temporary devices.
The same is true of returning your phone to the manufacturer, who may be best placed to reinstall a blemish-free screen.
They’ll generally charge more than high street centres, but work is usually of a high quality – and insurance policies ought to cover legitimate costs.
While handset repairs are underway, consider purchasing a basic backup from a high street retailer.
This is actually better than receiving a temporary loan unit, because you can install every app required to stay connected.
A reconditioned unit will be perfectly adequate – and you might even discover useful features your current model doesn’t offer.
Although accidental damage won’t be covered by a warranty, you shouldn’t have to accept faulty hardware or software.
It’s harder to make a claim under the Consumer Rights Act after six months of ownership, but every new device should have a manufacturer’s guarantee for at least a year.
Some retailers (notably John Lewis) offer extended two-year warranties as standard, covering faults which weren’t caused by misuse.
You’ll have a strong case for free remedial work if a software update or app store purchase has caused a malfunction.
Finally, every network operator is a member of CISAS or the Communications Ombudsman Services.
These independent dispute resolution agencies may be able to escalate a complaint on your behalf, if you’re not receiving the support you should be from your network.