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Repairing those low-end Androids may cost carriers up to $2 billion

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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Repairing those low-end Androids may cost carriers up to $2 billion
WDS, a company which provides device management and call center services to carriers, has done a study of 600 000 tech support calls from its centers in Europe, North America, Africa and Australia, and found out that those cheap Android phones don't come as cheap in the end.

Android has been taking over the smartphone world for a while now, and a lot of its current 57% market share success is due to affordable handsets that cost as little as $100 or less to produce, and which many carriers are offering at the low-end of their smartphone portfolios.

These comprise both of handsets that aren't from a well-established brand, as well as phones from Samsung, LG or other household names. Tim Deluca-Smith, the VP of marketing at WDS, says: "While this price point sounds very attractive, when you look at a total cost of ownership its a different story... At the moment, Android is a bit of the Wild West."

He clarifies that packing, transporting and repairing such handsets, which have much higher warranty failure rates than high-end Androids, iPhones or BlackBerries, costs carriers 80 pound sterling ($128) on average. With the proliferation of such entry level Android phones, carriers might be on the hook for up to $2 billion globally in repair costs.

source: Reuters

22 Comments
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posted on 03 Nov 2011, 10:39 3

1. downphoenix (Posts: 2329; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


this does suck for carriers. Working at a carrier call center myself for Sprint, the low cost smartphones are by and far the most common replacements. Even something like the Transform for example, which I doubt they've sold any more than 1/10th of what they sold Evos, and I see more customers complaining about that phone than the Evo despite there being at least 10x more Evos activated out there. And there's phones that are even worse that we sell out there, but they have either been discontinued already or are rarely seen. Carriers should hold phone manufacturers more responsibly and penalize them if there is a high failure rate on a device.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 11:12 1

3. protozeloz (Posts: 5377; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


Ha I knew it! Low end android phones don't sell as good as high end devices Plus they are the ones with the highest return rate. If you want a cheap phone you wait a couple of months and grab an offer when its available, creap low end android devices drag the system down

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 11:58 1

7. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


Where did you see in the article that low end androids don't sell as much? In fact it says the opposite. Read below.


and a lot of its current 57% market share success is due to affordable handsets that cost as little as $100 or less to produce, and which many carriers are offering at the low-end of their smartphone portfolios.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 12:58 2

12. protozeloz (Posts: 5377; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


1. I'm referring to downpenix.

2. so a lot is a number... also can you prove how much is a lot? 20% 30%? many of the sellers I know say the same thing downphoenix just said, they get paid better for selling high end phones, those same phones get more promotion and cause less trouble to them.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 14:28 3

19. JeffdaBeat (unregistered)


This is why there needs to be some kind of standard to license Android. I'll never stop saying this, but Microsoft had the best alternative to the iOS way of doing things. Give a basic standard of what hardware and screen resolution is needed to run Android and ALL apps. No more fragmentation, manufacturers can customize the hardware from that standard, and no more low-end Androids that give people problems. But even Microsoft has backed off on this in order to get more folks on Windows Phone 7.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 14:45

20. protozeloz (Posts: 5377; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


standard can be a double edged sword, for example 2012 may be the year for dual core on the MS campus when everyone goes quad core, I think ICS had a little trick to cut low end from the android lines as it requires certain things a low end cant accomplish to have, but will have to wait and see

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 11:20

5. terabyteRouser (Posts: 420; Member since: 18 Oct 2011)


Good point, like buying an e-Machine versus a Dell (well at least in 1999).

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 11:08 4

2. protozeloz (Posts: 5377; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


Maybe with this companies understand that WE DO NOT NEED LOW END CRAP it makes android look really bad and sales are not worth it

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 11:16 1

4. GALAXY-S (Posts: 701; Member since: 07 Jun 2011)


We have to keep in mind that android is open source and its made for everyone.. there are smaller carriers out there that need these low end devices , i dont know any one that has regional carriers such as cricket spend more than 250$ retail for a phone
.. also most everybody starts out with low end android then move up because they fall in love with the OS ..
Its a small price for carriers to pay in order to get more customers and create competition as well

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 11:35

6. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


Not everyone needs high end device so it's carriers problem. As a consumer, I don't care.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 12:59

13. protozeloz (Posts: 5377; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


go troll somewhere else

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 13:13 2

15. andro. (Posts: 1955; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)


Most carriers are begging for their groins not to be twisted so tightly and mutilated by massive expensive controlling contracts from apple when stocking the iphone,as phonearena has reported many carriers are in massive debt or have stopped carrying the iphone entirely.

Seeing as android is the highest market share and seller carriers are delighted to stock android

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 13:25 1

16. Sniggly (Posts: 7038; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


This right here is an example of you deliberately trying to start a flame war.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 13:28

17. protozeloz (Posts: 5377; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


just to confirm with one more , do you get better paid for selling low end android phones of the high end ones? witch you think gets promoted the most (TV commercials, online adds, stores)

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 14:47

21. Sniggly (Posts: 7038; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Well, I see the high end phones promoted more. There are exceptions, but not always. And where I work now, I get paid exactly the same for high end and low end phones. And since my store actually slashes prices on some high end phones (for example, the last I checked the Bionic was going for 230 bucks) I'll sell the best phones I can.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 12:23 2

9. dvancleave (Posts: 32; Member since: 19 Jul 2010)


My advice would be to pay the extra money up front and save yourselves the headaches later. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for. And there really isn't a huge difference in cost between a "low end" or "high end" device - at least under contract on Verizon, Sprint, AT&T or T-Mobile.

I made the mistake of going with a "low end" Android phone for my daughter because she liked it. Everyone else got the "high end" phones. Well, we only had trouble with 1 out of 5 phones on the plan. Any guesses which one? Customer Service and Tech Support were both understanding and helpful. But it was still quite a fiasco having to deal with it. We swapped it out twice in 3 months. Ultimately they qualified her for a full upgrade so we could get her a "high end" device. And there was much rejoicing in the land. Since we swapped it out we have had no issues with any of the devices.

If Android ever wants to bolster a positive reputation for a solid platform, they need to consider stricter guidelines for the hardware. Open source is great. But you also have to offer a solid, stable solution along the way. Apple has a serious advantage in this. They design both the hardware and the OS. And they closely regulate the apps that go on it. This ensures that everything tends to play nicely. Sure they may have some bugs to fix too. But overall the platform is far more stable.

And FYI, all 5 devices on my plan are Android. So please don't grab the torches and pitchforks make ready to wage war.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 13:01

14. protozeloz (Posts: 5377; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


I wont recommend a low end device to anyone no matter what OS is has, you better just save for an extra pair of months and get a good device they cause little issues

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 12:25

10. Tmachaveli (Posts: 425; Member since: 01 Apr 2011)


Haha thats funny

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 12:29 1

11. downphoenix (Posts: 2329; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


there's nothing wrong with having low cost handsets, its only a problem that they are manufactured very poorly. I dont expect a low cost handset to have the same screen size, resolution, processor, etc. as a high end handset, but I expect it to at least last the 1 yr warranty the manufacturer promises. Which is a crock in and of itself, your warranty is for 1 yr, your contract for 2. The FCC needs to step in to either switch to 1 yr contracts or 2 yr warranties.

posted on 03 Nov 2011, 13:32

18. ang999 (Posts: 1; Member since: 03 Nov 2011)


I'm not sure I agree with all of this. First of all, this article implies that those purchasing high-priced Android smartphones require very little support. From my experience, this isn't true. People that spend a lot of money for their phones expect good service, and in many cases, they are very critical consumers.

Second, I have many friends with high-priced Android phones, and let me tell you, they aren't troublefree by a longshot. Smartphones in general, with the exception of maybe Apple, are junk, even if they cost $600. The more moving parts, like sliding keyboards, the more problems, and cutting edge chips, like WiMAX and LTE cause added problems.

Thirst, low-cost Android phones are designed for emerging markets, like Africa, India, China, etc. I don't know how much of this study was based on these areas, but these people are poor, and live within a world where poor service is the norm. Consequently, they take very good care of their devices, even if they only cost under $150, which can be many months salary.

And fourth, low-cost Android devices are made by Chinese and Indian companies, and the ones I have seen have very good quality. Low-cost doesn't always translate to low-quality. That assumption has lead to where we are today, where Chinese made goods can have higher quality than American made.

posted on 04 Nov 2011, 00:16

22. ardent1 (Posts: 1997; Member since: 16 Apr 2011)


"Thirst, low-cost Android phones are designed for emerging markets, like Africa, India, China,"

That's since not true since low-cost Android devices are making its way everywhere. I have a Motorola Triumph, which is basically a Huawei phone with the Motorola band.

Additionally, I have examined the prepaid market in the USA and just about every carrier offers an android phone for less than $150. Take a look at the Optimus V from LG -- currently at $100 if on sale and that phone is not exactly a cheaply made product. The Samsung Dart is going for $120. The new Samsung Exhibit II 4G is $200.

The problem is that the mainland Chinese are very good at making knockoffs (as well as counterfeits) and that also extends to the handsets and that is a big problem since the knockoffs didn't use the better quality products. Basically, the mainland Chinese are again shooting themselves in the foot.

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