Skip to content
13 July 2023

Want to buy a phone that lasts? Consumer NZ introduces new repairability score

New Zealanders now have the power to choose a phone they can use for longer with Consumer NZ adding repairability to its smartphone scoring.

“Our data has shown us that a repairable phone doesn’t have to be an expensive phone,” said Dr Paul Smith, Consumer head of testing.

The Samsung Galaxy A54 5G model scores 84% for repairability, costs $689 and performs well enough to earn the Consumer Recommended tick. It compares favourably to the iPhone 13.

While the Apple model is also recommended by Consumer, it is less repairable (scoring 62%), and at $1,399, it costs twice as much as the Samsung.

“Choosing a phone with better repairability doesn’t mean compromising on phone performance either – you can buy a reasonably priced phone that performs well and can be repaired if something goes wrong.

“This is good news for your pocket and our planet,” said Smith.

In France, manufacturers must provide a repairability score for smartphones at the point of sale. Consumer has incorporated this data into scores for 92% of models it has tested.

How Consumer tests phones

Independent lab testing of phone performance makes up 50% of each phone’s score.

“We also gather reliability data from thousands of phone owners – we take account of faults and length of ownership – this makes up 25% of the overall score.

“The repairability, based on the French score, makes up the final 25%.”

Consumer now has scores for 65 phones covering 11 different brands. Scores range from 55 to 76%.

“Following our testing and analysis, we only recommend 17 models from five different brands,” said Smith.

Frequent phone faults

The watchdog’s surveying has found most phone faults are not fixed because repairs are too complex or costly.

“Our research shows that one in 20 phones develops a fault before the five-year mark.

“We also found that fewer than half of serious faults get fixed.

“That’s a lot of faulty smartphones being thrown out or languishing in household drawers and cupboards.”

Screens and batteries are the most common culprits of serious faults – many of these phones could be repaired by swapping out the screen or battery.

However, only one in five broken screens or batteries get replaced.

“It was not that long ago that you could remove your phone battery quickly and easily yourself,” said Smith.

“It is not hard to make a phone repairable – all we need are instructions, the ability to easily remove broken parts, and access to reasonably priced replacement parts.

“These three things are well within a manufacturer's realm of possibility.

“Instead, many tech manufacturers intentionally make repairs difficult or impossible.

“Some manufacturers are gluing parts together, withholding replacement parts, or hard-coding locks that stop unofficial (replacement) parts from functioning. Such behaviour is unethical and frankly outrageous.”

The right to repair

“We are all wasting money on products we can’t repair. We can’t afford for things to carry on this way, and neither can the planet.

“Add your voice to our right to repair campaign and tell the powers that be that we demand a right to repair.”