Who Makes the Most Reliable Android Phone?

by: Darcy LaCouveeJanuary 12, 2011
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Smartphones/Superphones are becoming more of a significant investment for everyday people. All around the world, people are signing up for two to three year contracts to get a nice chunk of change deducted off their new phone of choice.

Some of the new phones set to launch in 2011 feature the latest and greatest in everything mobile. At CES, the largest technology companies in the world peddled their wares to an eager and willing public, and it’s quite apparent that 2011 is going to be an amazing year for technology lovers everywhere.

Undoubtedly, some people are apprehensive to hop on this ever changing bandwagon. We have all experienced that fateful moment when our phone is suspended in midair; frantic, we desperately watch it fall to the ground in slow motion. Most likely, the phone doesn’t break, and the screen doesn’t crack. Unfortunately, the results aren’t always as pleasing.

It is a simple fact that some phones are made better than others. Some manufacturers go the extra mile, while others cut corners. Some feature “Gorilla Glass” while others feature less expensive and arguably inferior substitutes. The numbers game that manufacturers play in the pursuit of profit is a zero-sum game. While the company itself makes more money in the short term, they will potentially lose future customers once their manufacturing practices are brought to light. Additionally, once people who own the phone start to get public with their negative experiences, further distrust and dislike towards said company will be created.

Thankfully, we have the internet. Every day, it provides us with the information we need and crave. Reviews on every single conceivable product imaginable are out there for all to see. There is one company, SquareTrade, that specializes in selling people insurance on their expensive gadgets. It has kindly given us a heads up on what to expect moving forward in 2011.

In November, they publicly released a study detailing what company makes the most reliable Android smartphone. Some smartphones attract certain users, and those users are more prone to have accidents in their lives.

Regarding Android Smartphones, there are a few interesting things to note. Some smartphone manufacturers opt for higher quality manufacturing components and processes, while some outsource critical elements of the phone they are making to industry pioneers like Corning. Corning is the maker of the popular “Gorilla Glass.”

Some manufacturers prefer to hide behind the veil of secrecy, while others prefer to shine in the light of transparency. Corning has publicly stated that the following phones have their awesome Gorilla Glass on them.

What is Gorilla Glass you may ask? It is a high-strength sheet glass that is exceptionally tough and damage resistant. It’s one of the many things that Android Smartphone manufacturers can choose to put into their latest and greatest devices.

Phones with Gorilla Glass:

Dell:LGMotorola: Samsung:HTC
AeroAllyBackflipBehold IIIncredible
Venue ProCharmContinuum
CliqEpic 4G
Cliq XTFascinate
DefyFlight II
DevourGalaxy A
DextGalaxy S
Droid 2Transform
Droid 2 GlobalVibrant
Droid Pro
Droid X
Motorola i1


We have contacted HTC and they have not responded to our queries. According to Corning, the makers of Gorilla Glass, HTC does not have any agreements or arrangement with them. Therefore, it is safe to assume that HTC is opting for cheaper materials, and as such, is a less reliable manufacturer moving forward. That being said, they are under increasing scrutiny and pressure, and there are mixed reports of certain products that do potentially have Gorilla Glass. We know for sure that the new HTC Desire does not have Gorilla Glass, and being that it is one of their newest models, we can arguably assume that most of their new models in the future will not contain this much needed technology.

We can deduce from the above information that the most reliable manufacturer of Android Smartphones in the world, as of January 2011, is going to be Motorola. We must consider that because Samsung is a huge and diverse company, and a relatively new entrant to the smartphone space, Motorola is going to be a safer bet in the future. HTC and LG will certainly be ones to watch in 2011, but I wouldn’t be betting the farm. As all are market leaders in some respects, we should give them some credit. HTC produced some incredible phones in 2010, like the HTC EVO and the HTC Desire HD. Nevertheless, they have a much shorter track record than Motorola, and track record and experience in any industry or business go a long way in our book.

The Most Reliable Android Phone:

The winner is Motorola. In 2010, they enjoyed an excellent and low failure rate of 2.3%. HTC followed behind at 3.7%. Other smartphones fell way behind the pack at 6.7%. These numbers correspond to failure rates after a 12 month period.

Breakage Due to Accidents:

Everyone drops their phone. I’ve dropped my Droid probably four dozen times, and left it in the rain overnight. It still chugs along like a champ. Today’s smart phones see more use and abuse than any other portable electronic device in history. One would be hard pressed to find a single owner who has never dropped their phone. This issue deserves plenty of attention, especially with the growing popularity of ever larger, full glass panels on Android Phones.

Other Points to Consider:

Anyone that has owned a smartphone knows that they are not invincible. As internal components grow more advanced, so too will the opportunity for hardware failure to occur. This is not necessarily true in all cases, as technological innovation towards tougher tech could potentially ensue. In reality, most of the Android Smartphones have relatively similar components, made by similar companies. Consulting with sites like IFixit and PhoneWreck, it becomes readily apparent that the costing and hardware of the latest and greatest Smartphones is all very similar. In reality, it all comes down to the design, choice of hardware, and the manufacturing firm that said company chooses is best for business. Of course, experience plays a large role and quite simply, the most experienced Android phone manufacturer is Motorola. Some will disagree and say that HTC Phones are better, or that Samsung are better. Regardless of this, none of the other major players have the breadth of experience of Motorola. Additionally, Motorola has also dabbled significantly in Military-Spec quality phones. For example, the Motorola Defy is one very tough phone. They have undoubtedly acquired specialized knowledge and experience there, the likes of which is likely to be employed in every phone they design and put out.

Samsung, LG, Motorola, and HTC are all seriously committed to the smartphone game. For HTC, it’s their lifeline. For Samsung, they have many other operations within their company, and are highly diversified in their approach. Although some of what you have read is grounded in research, some of it is also my personal opinion. I would be willing to say that the most reliable Android smartphone in 2011 will most likely be Motorola, followed closely by HTC, and then Samsung. Good luck with your Android smartphone, and let us know your opinion in the comments below. Which company do you think makes the most reliable Android Smartphone?

  • pkpistol

    I think motorola makes the best phones I have two of the og droids and love them and when upgrade later this year it will be to another motorola phone on big reds network

    • harry

      Also say avoid sony. They stop charging within six months. Some after only a week. Sony say it is not a serious problem as far as they can tell. Ha

      • tomahawk

        Same for my Motorola Triumph!!! Won’t charge just shy of 6 months… arrrrrggghhhh:(:(

  • Darcy Alexander

    Motorola definitely makes a quality product. I’m also a big fan too. I take it your experiences with upgrading have been positive? They have certainly tried to keep pace, and my experiences have been more than positive. Mainly though, i’m very satisfied with the hardware.

  • Shawn Michael

    I look forward to something that will be a bit more reliable than my previous droid phone. I am now on my 4th replacement of the Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant I9000, and it just died on me yesterday. I think I may tend to lean towards the Motorola Droid phone in the future.

  • This is a timely article and it would be nice to read follow up article on “drop-resistant” Android phones. That is, phones that would continue to work even if accidentally dropped to the floor from 3-5 feet.

    There used to be a class of “rugged laptops”. With smartphones (AKA “smaller mobile computers”) such class makes even more sense. Perhaps Android phones without a touch screen, or Android phones that continue to be fully functional even if the touch functionality is lost for some reason.

  • Isaiah G

    I honestly do not agree. I think Motorola makes terrible phones. So far, I have had nothing but high expectations that were nowhere near met. Personally, I think the distribution to my area may be the cause as each Motorola user I know has had issues with their phone.

    My first “smartphone” was Motorola’s Moto Q9m and that phone was great for about 31 days, then it went haywire. It would call people unexpectedly and frequently shut off and on. Every replacement I’ve had did the same thing in a matter of weeks.

    Two years later, I upgraded to a Motorola Droid and I thought that was the best phone ever. It was very fast, responsive, and had a nice “feel” to it. Until after the 30th day when it began calling people on its own, opening apps, sending messages, shutting on and off randomly, and doing anything else like it was being operated by someone else. I replaced it about 4 times and now, I am using a defective but usable device that I can not wait to get rid of.

    Personally, I think there are great devices and faulty devices all jumbled up. Somehow, I seem to be in a large group that gets the faulty devices which makes me think they are only being sent to my area. Crazy right? Or a simple business tactic? You tell me.

  • Kpvergos

    Got my HTC Desire in October 2010.
    After a few months the screen would lock up.
    Sent in for repair, got it back 2 weeks later… nothing fixed!
    Sent it again on 2 June 2011. 7 weeks later still no phone!
    Spoke to Vodaphone (in Greece), they say they are waiting for a new pcb (Are they bringing it from Taiwan by boat?).
    Recently received an sms informing me that phone will be ready after 21 July 2011.

    Well my daughter has the exact same phone. It seems to have the same problem mine had!

    Vodaphone passes the responsibility on to HTC saying they have no service of their own in Greece.

    I think that both Vodaphone and HTC just lost a customer.

  • Greg

    I would just say AVOID SONY, Mine had a defective antennae, I had to wait nine weeks for the replacement, the replacement was bricked on arrival, now I have to wait another entirely arbitrary nine weeks for a second replacement.

  • Big_jase31

    ive two motorola atrix in 12 months wifi card always fails after 5-6 months

  • Ed

    Motorola droid 2 starwars edition, at the 1 year mark, the ROHS compliant solder joints started to fail. Sometimes it will boot, but usually crashes and fails to restart after doing any web browsing. I’ve had to re-flow the solder 5 times now in order just to get it to boot up and use it for a day. It’s now almost 1 1/2 years and it won’t boot anymore, and I have no money to replace it :( Avoid the Motorola Droid series, or expect to replace it 1-2 times a year.

  • AndrewC

    Good article but “Other” smartphones…Samsung??? The Galaxy 3 is arguably the top selling android smartphone in the world right now? Really would have liked to see a thorough comparison between them and Motorola.