What do warranties on cell phones cover?

Moneybags journalist Jessica Anne Wood examines cell phone warranties, how long they last and what they really cover you for.

The latest smartphones come with a high price tag, and the cost of replacing something like your phone’s touch screen can be crippling if you haven’t budgeted for it. In some instances repairs may be covered by the manufacturer warranty. But how do you know what is and isn’t covered?

The simple answer is that you need to read the terms and conditions and other documentation that accompanies your cell phone when you purchase it new. But there are a few standard warranty terms that appear to apply across the board.

The warranty period

Cell C highlights that a cell phone warranty is manufacturer dependent. “Apple, Huawei and Sony devices carry a one year manufacturer’s warranty, while Samsung, ZTE and Microsoft devices have a two year warranty.”

Vodacom concurs with Cell C, adding that the warranty varies from device to device on Vodacom/Vodafone branded devices.

However, Larry Annetts, chief consumer officer for MTN South Africa, highlights that MTN’s warranty offering is different. “MTN’s standard warranty period is 24 months on all brands except for Apple, which is 12 months.”

Hisense is currently offering a 24-month warranty on any handset purchased between 1 September 2016 and 31 December 2016. In a statement released by the company at the beginning of the warranty offering, it noted: “In the first six months from date of purchase, the faulty product may be repaired or exchanged by Hisense, or credited by the dealer or store once approved by Hisense.

“For the remainder of the warranty period (after the first six months from date of purchase) the product may be repaired or exchanged by Hisense, or be requested to be credited or exchanged by the store or dealer where original purchase was made.”

Can you extend the warranty period?

It is possible, depending on the manufacturer and the device in question, to extend the warranty. For example, Vodacom reveals that Apple customers can extend their warranty at an Apple store, while customers with Vodacom or Vodafone branded devices can do this through Vodacom Insurance or their preferred insurance provider.

Cell C advises that you contact the manufacturer of your device to find out how the extended warranty programme works. However, it adds that an extended warranty is more like an insurance policy taken out on the device.

By contrast, Annetts reveals that MTN does not have an extended warranty policy.

What does the warranty cover?

The details of what a warranty covers may differ according to provider or manufacturer. However, there are several standard features and items that warranties will cover. According to Annetts, a standard cell phone warranty covers all mechanical damages and excludes physical or liquid damage.

Cell C elaborates: “A standard cell phone warranty covers defects in material, design and workmanship. The warranty cover only applies if the device is used according to the manufacturers’ guidelines and for the intended purpose of the device.”

When is a warranty void?

There are a number of instances when a warranty may be void. While these may differ slightly depending on the manufacturer or supplier, there are a few common exclusions to a product warranty. According to Vodacom, these include, but are not limited to, physical damage and/or misuse or abuse, liquid damage, repairs and/or product modifications and alterations that have been executed by unauthorised third parties.

According to the Hisense South Africa Warranty for cellular phones and tablets, after six months the warranty does not include “enamelled surfaces or plastic covers, any accessories and other parts subject to wear and tear or discolouring. Damage caused by abrasive and highly concentrated cleaners and/or cleaning materials or cleaners prohibited by the user manual.”

Furthermore, Hisense notes that a warranty will no longer be valid and the company will not be responsible for “damage or injury of any kind resulting from electricity fluctuations and surges, lightning strikes, faults in the building wiring, faulty installations, and improper use of controls and or failure to use the product in accordance with the operating instructions and or general misuse and or abuse, or if not used for domestic purposes only, or for damage caused by a superior force (vis maior).”

Hisense adds that the warranty is void “where the product has been infested with insects or pests, physically damaged after it left the store or if water or liquid caused the damage to the product. If the warrantee seal is tampered with. Any repair or tampering by an unauthorised person or attempt to repair or tamper with the equipment, or use of parts not supplied by authorised agents, or alterations or modification to the equipment, shall render the warranty null and void.”

Vodacom strongly encourages that you read and understand the terms and conditions when purchasing, upgrading or signing a new contract, and to also check the warranty of the device prior to leaving the store.

Handy contacts

If you have queries or concerns regarding your cell phone’s or other mobile device’s warranty Cell C advises that you contact the manufacturer. “The service provider merely enforces the manufacture guidelines set out by the manufacturer.”

If you are a Vodacom customer though, you can contact their repair call centre on 082 1944 or alternatively you can visit the nearest Vodacom repairs store or Vodacom shop.

Annetts adds: “Consumer concerns regarding cell phone warranties should be directed to the store at which they have purchased the device, or they can call MTN’s call centre on 808 for post-paid and hybrid or 173 for prepaid.”


For more information on the cost of repairs, click here.