A brand new smartphone is a thing of beauty. It is shiny and responsive, a blank slate that can be filled with apps and widgets and fun. The battery still works, you can hear people on the other end of a phone call and the interface is zippy.
But eventually it all goes to hell.
FixYa, a community-based troubleshooting guide, has aggregated the top problems of smartphones from a variety of manufacturers and assigned a “dependability” score to each. The data comes FixYa’s database of 30 million users with about 8 million product problems. FixYa's "Smartphone Reliability Report" looked specifically at four smartphone manufacturers: Apple, Samsung, Nokia and Motorola.
Smartphones can go from exciting and shiny new toys to problematic and frustrating devices in the blink of an eye. Anybody that bought a HTC Thunderbolt will tell you that, after a week or so, the battery could not keep up with the large screen or LTE connectivity. What use is a wireless phone that you have to keep plugged in all the time?
I’ve had smartphones that completely lost battery life after about nine months (greetings, Samsung Captivate). Smartphones where the batteries, literally, blew up (hello, BlackBerry!). Others where the proximity sensor and camera just stopped working after about a year (looking at you, Motorola Atrix). After several months, one smartphone just decided it no longer wanted to let me scroll down the screen easily (Nokia, take a bow).
Sometimes problems are the result of straight user error (I swear, 33% of people I know have cracked screens). Other times it's just shoddy manufacturing or design. Batteries can be abused by people that don't really know how to take care of a rechargeable device.
No one company is immune from dependability issues. The biggest complaint against Apple’s iPhone is battery life. Samsung apparently suffers from a litany of microphone issues. People dislike Motorola for pre-installed apps (Motoblur was a disaster, but that should change with Google’s stewardship).
Who came out the winner in FixYa's ratings? To the surprise of probably no one, Apple.
It's not that people had no problems with their iPhones on FixYa. Battery life was a major issue for users, followed by a lack of new features.
Samsung ranked well below Apple, but far ahead of Motorola and Nokia. Given the variety of smartphones that Samsung makes, it is hard to point at any one model and say, "this is the problem." For instance, users rated the battery life on the Galaxy S3 as a positive feature, while denigrating battery life on the Galaxy Nexus.
Nokia was well behind its arch nemeses Apple and Samsung, though it's also hard to pinpoint any single device as most problematic. FixYa gives Nokia a 22.15% market share, so it's taking into account Symbian and Asha devices as well as the newer Windows Phone Lumia lines (market share stats cited by FixYa from StatCounter). Nokia also has an interesting problem in that some users complained that "the glass gets hot."
Motorola is the trailer in the group. Users said they like the battery life on Motorola devices, but hated the pre-installed apps. Those pre-installed apps come from a previous generation of Motorola devices (like the Atrix) and from carriers like Verizon. Motorola's Android skin, Motoblur, is essentially being phased out as Google takes a more active role in designing the hardware and software of the devices.
What is the most common problem you have with your smartphone? Let us know in the comments.
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