The cost of mobile handsets

Here on MBM design problems are our bread and better, so this report is maybe worth highlighting.

samsung-galaxy-nexus.jpgHere on MBM design problems are our bread and better, so this report is maybe worth highlighting.

A company called WDS, which describes itself as a “wireless user experience” specialist, has reported on handset costs faced my mobile telecom providers, with particular reference to the Google Andorid platform.

Over a 12 month period it has tracked how consumers interact with their phones, including analysis of 600,000 technical support calls, to identify the platform’s ‘cost-of-ownership’ for operators.

This ZDNet blog post was among many covering the report – Android handsets top hardware failures list

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes:

 Android handsets are more likely to suffer from hardware faults than Windows Phone 7, iOS or BlackBerry handsets, according to research published by wireless experience management experts WDS.

 WDS [found] that Android handset hardware failures are twice as common as for iOS devices, with 14% of all Android support calls related to hardware failures. By comparison, only 11% of Windows Phone 7 calls were because of hardware failures. iOS did even better, with only 7% being down to problems with the hardware.

There are lots of other interesting figures. Here, for example, is a breakdown of hardware faults, by OS:


And here is a breakdown of best-in-class and worst-in-class, in terms of hardware faults across different mobile platforms:


WDS also writes:

Of the smartphone technical support calls analyzed by WDS 14% of Android calls were assigned to hardware faults such as button or touchscreen failures, speaker and microphone faults and battery performance.

Moving away from Android, the company has this to say about the Apple iPhone 4 antenna problem, which was previoulsy featured in Made By Monkeys:

Following the release of the iPhone 4 reports began to emerge of an alleged hardware fault with the phone’s antenna. Although only 0.55% of consumers calling in this issue [sic] to Apple Care, the story received an unprecedented amount of media attention provoking an urgent PR challenge. Despite a relatively insignificant proportion of devices affected, the barrage of negative press posed an irrefutable threat to the overall perception of the quality delivered by the Apple, brand forcing the then CEO, Steve Jobs to take the spotlight in defense of Apple and the iPhone 4.

You can read the full Guardian breakdown of the figures, or the Reuters analysis. Alternatively, you can read the full WDS whitepaper (PDF).



  1. Very fair points – not all the data has been released by the company.
    I particularly agree with Glen that, by the relatively open nature of the platform, “Android phones” are going to cover a wider spread of price points. And I guess Windows has a similar range. But there can be no such get out for RIM.
    I’d disagree with you Les-M, tho, about the lack of absolute numbers rendering the graph meaningless – I would have thought a relative, percentage approach was the right one (given the large sample size they say they covered).

  2. That’s a pretty useless graph without knowing the numbers of handsets in each failure category. From the data given, any of the handset types could be the worst. The Guardian article goves better info but still hides some of the detail.

  3. Blackberry OS runs on hardware made by RIM
    Apple IOS runs on hardware made by “Apple” (actually they are made by Foxconn)
    Windows Mobile runs on hardware made by “loads of companies”
    Android runs on hardware made by “loads of companies”
    It makes no sense to run a survey on “Hardware problems” and then group the results by OS
    Without breaking the hardware down by manufacturer all that can be gleaned from this is that “Some” manufacturers that provide devices that run Windows and Android operating systems make substandard hardware.
    I would suspect that this is down to the broad spectrum of hardware available to Windows and Android users from el cheapo to very expensive.
    Whereas Apple/Blackberry have a limited number of devices that they offer their OS on.
    If you look at it that way then your results pinpoint Blackberry as being the worst. They make their own hardware and have full control of the integration of their OS and hardware but still have hardware related issues. Whereas Windows and Android have little control over what hardware their OS is run on and can hardly be blamed for the shortcomings of certain hardware manufacturers.

  4. Erm…. isn’t comparing hardware faults by platform like comparing car body faults by brand of fuel used?
    Surely comparing makes would have been more beneficial as there are both cheap and expensive makes of phones that run the android platform.
    Only Apple run their own iOS and only Blackberry run their own Blackberry OS.

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