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When your smartphone breaks overseas, who you gonna call?

By danwarne     Filed under: Apple, smartphones, Consumer rights, RIM, BlackBerry, Samsung, LG, Motorola, HTC, Nokia, Sony Ericsson

There are few items more vital to the business traveller than the smartphone -- and when it stops working, it's a major inconvenience.

Here's the bad news: if your mobile goes toes-up while you're overseas, you're almost certainly stuck up the smartphone creek without a paddle.

Mobile phone manufacturers don't offer any form of international warranty, despite their products being pretty much destined to travel.

So although most smartphone brands have repair centres dotted around the world, they'll only service phones purchased in that respective country -- your Aussie-bought smartphone will likely be treated as a potentially expensive off-the-street repair job, even if it's well within the warranty period.

Here's where each of the big brands stand.

Apple

Apple's iPhone family come with a 12 month warranty and a whopping caveat: according to Apple, the warranty "may" be limited to the country where you purchased the phone.

In practice, you can take your faulty iPhone to the genius bar at any Apple Store worldwide for troubleshooting and tech support, and they may swap it over for an as-new refurbished handset outside Australia.

Apple also offers out-of-warranty repairs at a set price in each country. For example, in Australia it's $249 for any repair to an iPhone (but really, what Apple does is swap your phone over for an as-new refurbished handset on the spot.)

BlackBerry

RIM doesn't offer any service options for faulty BlackBerry handsets, whether they're in Australia or elsewhere in the world.

It defers all repair enquiries to the Australian telcos, who, predictably, do not have repair centres overseas.

HTC

According to HTC, if your phone was purchased in Australia, you'll have to return to Australia to have it serviced.

HTC will return the repaired phone, or replace it, at its option.

LG

There are no overseas warranty provisions for LG handsets, so phones cannot be repaired overseas under warranty.

According to LG, this is because warranties vary from country to country, and service structures also vary between countries, so a global warranty program does not exist.

In Australia, if an LG phone malfunctions within seven days of purchase, it will be replaced with a new one. The company advises: "service centres require authorisation from LG to do on the spot swap – which can be provided in certain circumstances otherwise there is a turnaround time as phone is checked for faults, damage, liquid ingress etc."

Motorola

Motorola says that warranty repairs overseas "may be assessed and an individual decision can be made at each country's discretion, if the product is still sold within that region."

In Australia, "Motorola always try to deal with repairs within 72 hours."

Nokia

Nokia does not provide an international warranty for smartphones. They can only be repaired in the country in which they were purchased.

Samsung

There's no international warranty on Samsung phones sold in Australia. Within Australia, Samsung smartphones "are taken or sent to one of our authorised service centres for repair and return" says a company spokeswoman. "At some of our service centres the customer may be able to wait for their phone to be repaired."

Sony Ericsson

Sony Ericsson says its warranty is only applicable in the country of purchase "because phones purchased in that country have been approved for use there."

"Repairs made outside the country of purchase could mean components or modules not approved for that market are used."

Any malfunctions under warranty with Sony Ericsson handsets require the phone to be left with a service centre in Australia for assessment and repair.

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About danwarne

Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 8/2/12 by wilsoni

If your iPhone (or iPad or iPod) suffers physical damage (as opposed to say electronic meltdown), i.e. you've dropped it or it's been run over (don't laugh, mine was) and is less than 12 months old then you can get a new one at any Apple store for half price. Mine was wrecked in South Africa and I got a new one in London. Just be sure to take the broken one in with you. But, and it's a big but, you won't get any data (address book, iCal, music, apps or anything else) copied over from old phone to new. It's not a tech issue, they just don't do it; at least not in London, despite pleading and offering to sell your children. That all has to be synched through your MacBook etc, and if you don't have that item with you then you're effectively stuffed until you get home anyway.

1 on 8/2/12 by wilsoni

By the way, this was 12 months ago. Maybe the Cloud has made things easier for data transfer etc.

2 on 9/2/12 by here2go

Apple is the only manufactuer that provides truly, "International Phones," as they refuse to deliver carrier-specced phones.  All other manufacturers provide regional and carrier specced variants.  For instance, Nokia has over 1000 different product variants for the N8-00 phone.  Carriers must approve regional variants before they are released too.

This perhaps explains why you can't get support OS, as support staff are trained to be knowledgeable in the local variants only.  It also explains the painful experience Australians can experience in getting product updates in Australia.

I tried to get my Telstra-bloated N8-00 upgraded from from Symbian 3 v1.0 to v1.2 at the Nokia Care Centre while in Singapore last year (there isn't one in Darwin - Adelaide is the closest), as Telstra refused to approve the update for public release.  Nokia Care Singapore advised they would charge, and would not guarantee the success of the upgrade.  I declined, deciding to accept the MMS and MS-Exchange faults with the phone, rather than no phone.  Six months later I finally got the phone upgraded at a Nokia Care Centre in Melbourne (Telstra still hadn't approved an update).

 

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