For many people, taking out a contract with a mobile phone operator is the most viable way to own a top-end smartphone. Instead of having to pay hundreds of pounds up front for the latest iPhone, Galaxy, HTC One or whichever brand you have your eye on, a contract allows you to spread the cost of ownership with monthly repayments.

Plus, of course, you get all of your minutes, text and data bundled into the same price.

Contract smartphone owners do, however, face a conundrum. Most devices are supplied on 24 month contracts as standard. Manufacturer’s warranty on most smartphones only lasts for 12 months. That means, should your handset breakdown after the first year of ownership, you have no automatic recourse for repair or replacement, yet you are still locked into a contract for several more months.

What can you do if you find yourself in this situation? The options depend on the nature of the problem with your phone.

smartphone broken before contract is up

Smartphone Technical faults

Once your warranty has expired, you may still be able to claim free repair and replacement for certain technical faults under consumer protection laws. For example, consumers are entitled to expect that products they buy arefit for purpose’, and there have been examples where mobile phone owners have been able to use this to make claims in cases where their device does not last the duration of a 24-month contract.

However, the difficulty is you have to be able to prove that the handset carried a manufacturing fault when it was purchased which meant it was never going to last for two years. This means paying for engineer’s reports and takes time and effort.

Further protections exist if a breakdown is caused by an operating system update or by a faulty app. It is important to remember that claims made under these laws must be made to the retailer, not the device manufacturer - so, in the case of faulty updates etc, from your mobile operator, in the case of apps from the app store you made the purchase from.

Smartphone Accidental damage

If your phone becomes faulty as a result of accidental damage or general wear and tear, there is not much recourse to free repair or replacement outside your warranty period. Your mobile operator may offer an aftercare service, but this will in most circumstances be paid for. Some manufacturers, e.g. Apple, also offer paid-for extended warranties.

If you are locked into several more months of a contract and your handset is completely unusable, it becomes a case of weighing up the best value solution. Repairs through a third party can often be less expensive than going through your mobile service provider, although you may not get a guarantee on the work.

For the most serious faults, repair may be either highly expensive or simply not possible. You could look at cancelling your contract and starting another to get a new device, but you will probably have to pay a termination fee. In many cases, it is cheaper to buy an unlocked second hand phone to use your SIM in for the duration of the contract.

Overall, the best way to guarantee being able to repair or replace your broken smartphone at any point during your contract is to take out insurance. At, we offer unlimited repairs and free collection and return on all smartphones, covering accidental damage, cracked screens, water damage, technical breakdown, theft and loss. Click here to find out more.

*The information in this blog is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed. Please seek a professional for expert advice as we can not be held responsible for any damages or negative consequences upon following this information.

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