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Buying a new phone: how important are the warranty and damage protection plans?

Is Warranty as important as the price and features when deciding what phone to buy? What about when you damage your phone, what do manufacturers offer?
By
June 8, 2015

Choosing a new smartphone often depends on price, your choice of platform and/or manufacturer, as well as the recommendations from friends and family. But is after-sales care just as important to you?

What happens when disaster strikes and you’re left paying an expensive contract but have a phone that doesn’t work as it should do? If it’s a manufacturer fault, it should be covered under your warranty but if you’ve broken your phone, you may need an additional policy.

While some of you may have insurance, others will rely on the options offered by your manufacturer. So what does your warranty cover and what happens if the worst does happen and your phone no longer works?

Warranty

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 drop test cracked screen aa 8

The warranty is a key part of any smartphone experience as it determines how long each manufacturer is liable for faults with your handset. However, most warranty agreements have certain clauses and don’t cover faults that you may believe are covered under your warranty.

As an example, dropping your phone and denting the corner could result in a warranty claim months later for a faulty USB port being rejected due to accidental damage, even though the fault is unrelated to the damage. Another example I’ve seen first-hand in the UK is with manufacturers refusing to repair device faults due to liquid damage, even though there are no outward indicators showing liquid damage.

Some examples of issues covered under the manufacturers’ warranty are the headphone jack no longer working, the display not turning on (unless it’s been damaged), the USB port no longer functioning and most faults that naturally occur with a handset through use (any accidental damage doesn’t apply).

Let’s take a look at the warranty included by some manufacturers:

ManufacturerLength of CoverageExtended Warranty available?Extended Warranty Cost?
Manufacturer

Length of Coverage

Extended Warranty available?

Extended Warranty Cost?

Manufacturer
HTC
Length of Coverage
24 months
Extended Warranty available?
No
Extended Warranty Cost?
N/A
Manufacturer
Samsung
Length of Coverage
24 months
Extended Warranty available?
No
Extended Warranty Cost?
N/A
Manufacturer
LG
Length of Coverage
24 months
Extended Warranty available?
No
Extended Warranty Cost?
N/A
Manufacturer
Huawei
Length of Coverage
24 months
36 months for P8 in selected European markets
Extended Warranty available?
No
Extended Warranty Cost?
N/A
Manufacturer
Apple
Length of Coverage
12 months (24 months coverage in EU if quoting EU law)
Extended Warranty available?
Yes
Extended Warranty Cost?
$79
Manufacturer
Sony
Length of Coverage
24 months
Extended Warranty available?
No
Extended Warranty Cost?
No
Manufacturer

Length of Coverage

Extended Warranty available?

Extended Warranty Cost?

In Europe, all electrical items must come with two years’ manufacturers warranty but the same rules don’t apply in other markets. However, some manufacturers offer extended warranties for their flagship devices so the warranty included with your device will vary depending on which phone you buy and which region you buy it in.

When the worst does happen, you’re often left without a working phone so what do manufacturers do? Let’s take a look at some of the damage protection policies available:

Damage Protection

LG G Flex Drop Test Outdoors AA  (23 of 25)

When disaster does strike and you’ve got a broken phone, your options are either to rely on your manufacturer or your insurance company to repair your broken phone. With most people buying expensive smartphones on lengthy contracts, having a broken device with no protection can often mean relying on an old phone while still paying for your new device.

The accidental damage policies of each manufacturer do vary and often, some companies will provide one-off assistance that’s out of policy but this depends on each individual case. Some manufacturers have revealed accidental damage protection policies to protect your phone so let’s take a look at the different options that are available:

ManufacturerAppleHTCLGSamsung
Manufacturer
Program Name:
Apple
Apple Care+
HTC
Uh Oh Protection
LG
LG G4 Screen Replacement
Samsung
Samsung Protection Plus Mobile Elite
Manufacturer

Apple

HTC

LG

Samsung

Manufacturer
Available in
Apple
Global
HTC
USA & Mexico
LG
South Korea Only
Samsung
USA
Manufacturer
Cost of Program:
Apple
$99
HTC
Free
LG
Free
Samsung
$99 (Galaxy S4, S5, S6)

$130 (Note 3, Note 4, Note Edge, S6 Edge)
Manufacturer
Repair Fees:
Apple
$79
HTC
None
LG
None
Samsung
$95 (Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Note range)

$75 (Other Galaxy devices)
Manufacturer
Protection valid for:
Apple
24 months
HTC
12 months
LG
12 months
Samsung
24 months
Manufacturer
Coverage:
Apple

HTC

LG

Samsung

Manufacturer
Broken Screen
Apple
Yes
HTC
Yes
LG
Yes
Samsung
Yes
Manufacturer
Liquid Damage
Apple
Yes
HTC
Yes
LG
No
Samsung
Yes
Manufacturer
Terms:
Apple
2 replacements
HTC
1 free replacement
LG
1 screen replacement
Samsung
Up to 3 claims
Manufacturer
Registration Required?
Apple
Within 60 days of device purchase
HTC
None
LG
None
Samsung
Within 30 days of device purchase

The table shows that the availability of policies varies according to the region you purchase your phone in and each policy has specific terms regarding registration, the amount of claims and the period of protection. The policies can be categorised into two categories: the freemium ones that offer one claim at no additional cost and the premium ones that offer protection for multiple incidences at a price and personally, I think the premium ones are worth the cost when something does go wrong.

A special mention goes to the HTC Uh Oh program, which offers you $100 towards the cost of your next phone if you don’t make a claim for repair in the 12 month period. If any of these do interest you, it’s worth noting that some require you to register within a certain period to be eligible to claim.

A new battleground?

lg g4 vs samsung galaxy s6 edge quick look aa (14 of 14)

OEMs have traditionally competed on price and features but with the introduction of extended warranties and damage protection policies, after-sales care is slowly becoming another area that these OEMs can compete on. Whether it’s to compare their policy to the competition or just to provide reassurance to customers, after-sales care is only something that many users consider when the worst does happen.

Apple has always offered shorter warranty periods that its rivals but has made up for this with its Genius Bar and in-store service, while Huawei hopes that its extended warranty and same-day replacement services might entice customers to buy its handsets. HTC’s Uh Oh program offers some peace-of-mind should the worst happen and LG’s screen-replacement programs promises to repair your handset for free should the screen break. Samsung‘s Protection Plus policy offers extensive coverage and should keep you covered for the length of your contract.

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While these policies do offer some protection, are manufacturers doing enough and do you really care about after-sales or is the price and features enough to base your decision on? Let us know your views in the comments and be sure to vote in our poll below!