/ Technology

Are Sony Xperia Z phones cracking by themselves?

Cracked smartphone

Phone screens cracking by themselves? Sounds spooky, but that’s what we’ve heard from some Sony Xperia Z customers. The question is whether Sony’s fixing phones for free under warranty.

Smartphones aren’t invincible, even with developments like the scratch-resistant ‘Gorilla Glass’. A drop from your pocket can result in a broken phone, and an unhappy owner. But what if the cracks weren’t caused by your clumsiness? What if they mysteriously appeared?

That’s what some Sony Xperia Z customers have been experiencing. This is a phone that’s meant to be tougher than your average smartphone, with the added benefit of being waterproof. And yet there are reports of hairline cracks appearing as if by magic, without any force being applied. One theory goes that these small cracks are due to the phone overheating, which is then making the phone unusable.

The cracks are beginning to show

In a lively thread on Sony’s forums, Monsoon comments about his Xperia Z:

‘I pulled my phone out my pocket at the weekend and there were two hairline cracks running diagonally down the screen rendering the top 2/3 of the screen useless.’

Scoops99 says they’ve had the same problem:

‘[I] had the phone in my pocket like I have done for the last four months and found the phone did not work, I cannot unlock the phone or enter the PIN. On further investigation, after removing the screen protector, I noticed two hairline cracks coming from the right-hand side of the screen. The phone has never been dropped or bashed.’

When these customers get in touch with Sony, some have been quoted more than £200 for a repair. One of Social Student’s writers said:

‘I was told that there was a £200 fixing fee as the phone was ‘BER’ (Beyond Economic Repair) and was not covered under the standard warranty. If I didn’t want to accept the repair bill, I would be charged £15 for them to send the damaged phone back to me!’

Replacements under warranty

However, some customers appear to be having some luck with Sony. Some forums and unofficial blogs claim that Sony will replace phones under warranty if there’s only a ‘single crack in the display’, and that there’s no evidence of abuse. However, this is not something we can confirm, as we’ve also read comments from customers who say they’ve had difficulty getting a replacement, like Bettyboo on Sony’s forum:

‘I had the same issue within a day of use, screen cracked by itself with a hairline crack and stopped responding. I sent to Sony UK, got a quote back for over £240 and they claimed it was down to physical damage not a manufacturing defect. […] I literally begged and told him it’s not accidental damage but a problem with their screens. He never admitted there was, but promised as a good will gesture they will on this one occasion replace it.’

So, do you own a Sony Xperia phone? Has a crack appeared as if from nowhere? How has your experience been with Sony’s customer service team?

We reached out to Sony for a comment – a spokesperson told us:

‘We are sorry to hear that some customers are reporting cracks in the screens of their Xperia Z smartphones.

‘We build all our devices to a high quality standard, and submit them to rigorous testing procedures. In the case of Xperia Z this has included evaluation against our Global Reliability specifications. Tests carried out include free-fall, bend, pressure, heat and other simulations to reflect the different uses of our products in the field.

‘Xperia Z’s frame is made from glass fibre polyamide, the same tough material that is used as a metal substitute in cars. The glass used is tempered, and has a shatter-proof coating, making it much stronger than regular glass. This along with its proven water and dust-resistance contributes significantly to the durability of Xperia Z.

‘However, damage can occur to any smartphone screen for a variety of reasons. These include, but are not limited to, a screen suffering a sharp knock, exceptional localised pressure, or simply from being dropped.

‘Assessment within our product returns process demonstrates that only a small proportion of reported cases cannot be obviously attributed to an identifiable cause such as those listed above. Our quality control monitors confirm that the return rate of Xperia Z smartphones due to a cracked screen are at a very low level and, we believe, well within norms for the high-tech consumer electronics industry.

‘In cases where no identifiable cause can be found, we have replaced the customer’s phone quickly and without charge.

‘When a customer has an issue with their Xperia smartphone we urge them to call our local customer service centres – the UK number to reach them is 03705 237237.

‘Our customer care and repair centre agents are required to handle all enquiries on a case-by-case basis and try to determine the most likely cause of damage. We will generally repair or replace the device if there are no obvious signs of customer damage.’

‘Once again, we’re sorry to hear that some consumers are unhappy with their devices, or the service they receive from Sony. If any customer has any concerns we urge them to call our customer service centre on 03705 237237 (8am – 8pm Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm Sat). We commit to assess every complaint on a case by case basis to reach a fair resolution as swiftly as possible.’

Comments

I have unfortunately experienced the same issue. I kept my phone in a hard case but found after a few months that 2 diagonal cracks had appeared at the back. I raise a case with Sony who said I should send the phone back for inspection but that I would be charged if the the repair center deemed the warranty was void. I decided not to take the risk of incurring a potentially necessary £20 cost as the phone worked perfectly well. 5 months later the back camera stopped working after an android update. I tried to reset to factory settings and use the Sony diagnosis tool but it did not fix the issue. I decided that sending it back to the repair center was worth it. It turns out that it is an electrical issue but that the screen being cracked has voided the warranty and I must therefore paid for the repair. A picture of the crack and the general condition of the handset is apparently all it takes to work out whether your warranty is void or not so I fail to comprehend why this is not requested by default by customer service when logging a repair request. I feel more than a bit cheated that I now have to pay £20 for the phone to be sent back. Paying for the repair is utterly pointless as I have been advised that the work is in no way guaranteed: if it passes its test at the repair centre and you do not report the fault not being fixed within a couple of days of receiving it, then any further issues will invariably be due to 3rd party apps affecting the phone, regardless of whether the fault is there when you reset the phone to factory settings.
I was a big fan of Sony phones before this debacle. I will not longer use their handset or recommend them.

Bhatti Rajpoot says:
8 December 2016

Can’t we bring a lawsuit against these b*****s, i had the same issue with my phone (cracks appearing on the screen) around March 2014 and they charged me above $300 for repair.

Jamie says:
17 December 2016

I have a had a z1 compact a year. No issues. Great phone. Spontaneously screen smash recently. Next day l bought a used z3. Mint condition. Two days later: picked it up off a desk. Big cracking on my screen. Heart sank. What now? I’m so angry. So frustrating. I’m in lreland. No idea if l will get any comeback from Sony. Anyone had dealings with Sony Ireland?

Jamie I would be very much surprised if the Sony policy in Eire is any different to the UK or the rest of the world .It depends where the actual glass was made and whether ,say the US , are being supplied with higher quality glass. Sony moved their factory out of China and now are in Thailand , the factory should be in operation now but it will take a while to see if their source of glass changes . I would like it to be Corning “Gorilla Glass ” but I dont see any indication of that yet. After re-checking the US has exactly the same problems.

Reese says:
27 December 2016

It looks like i’m a late comer to the party. i used my Z5 this morning and all was well, Placed it on the side to charge, came back an hour or so later and was unable to swipe unlock the phone due to a hair line crack in the screen diagonally from the bottom RH corner with no apparent reason.

sunnylioooooon says:
31 January 2017

okay then tell me why my iphone that ive had for 6 years hasnt got a single scratch (and i have thrown it around, dropped it etc) but the xperia z2 just one day cracked all at the back making it unusable??? it overheated possibly but i barely used it- shame. now i have to repair it and it was not my fault.

Simples- they designed faulty phones but wont admit it . Its well known, even admitted that overheating can crack the glass which imo is inferior to others who use Gorilla Glass by Corning . Take your time checking out where to repair it charges vary greatly . Now for those under the allusion that they use Gorilla Glass , Corning has/had a disclaimer on that and it shows on their website all the companies that use their glass and guess which one is NOT shown ? quote (from Sony )- the company uses “durable tempered glass” that is the EQUIVALENT to Gorilla Glass , even Sony,s own forum posters are not “happy bunnies ” and guess what I got ? the real manufacturers of their glass and it isnt Corning. Add to that they closed down their Chinese factory and opened a new one in Thailand, where Quote- all parts of the phones will be made in house ” .

I have again and again quoted Corning as saying Sony isnt one of the companies using its glass even though I have come across a Sony website saying it does ,so for those that don’t believe me I will now post Corning,s own official list of companies that have their glass in them –and try and find the name Sony ? It is : http://www.corning.com/gorillaglass/worldwide/en/full-products-list

Dave Templeman says:
27 February 2017

I have a Z5 premium and also have a cracked screen , straight crack from top to bottom , making the screen un-usable, sent to Sony and have been told I have dropped it etc, replied saying no damage to other areas of the phone and the screen has cracked and not shattered, still arguing with Sony now, been waiting almost a month for escalations team to get in touch with me??? Really loved my Z5 but wont be buying another Sony phone again.

Andrew Palmer says:
24 March 2017

Last week the screen on my Z3 cracked for the 4th time! To be fair, this time I did drop it, but only from waist height and onto carpet. But, having already paid for 3 replacement screens when I had never dropped it, this was the final straw, I have just bought a Samsung Galaxy S7. Goodbye Sony, I will never buy ANY Sony product again.

Byron says:
1 May 2017

I have a small company. We bought 10 various models of the z series handsets in one go. Big mistake!
We shoot a load of video clips, as a result we find that within THREE MONTHS 6 out of the 10 handsets screens simply cracked on trying to view 4k video clips made with the handsets. One handsets screen cracked WHILE FILMING! The reason being…. PROCESSORS OVERHEATING.
Sony IS AWARE of this all and even tried to “make it all go away” by releasing at least one patch but I have read that more than one patch was released (patch = software update however, here is the cracker. After getting nowhere with Sony in relation to warrantee repairs, I sent them all in for screen repairs (1/4 price of the Sony quote) using official Sony screen’s (that I supplied) to ensure quality control. Anyhow…. £75ea later they were returned. All the latest updates installed, yet again we have had screens cracking, one (a z3+ dual sim) unit cracked on day 1 of return! It’s now 13 months later, since purchase, and despite ALL handsets being used in original Sony cases, we only have 4 units without processor heat cracked screens. 80 emails and hours of telephone calls to n from Sony later, being a big company, despite having acknowledged the issue online, via WHICH? and via the BBC
“watchdog” channel all they have done is supply you the 0300 telephone number that leads you to absolutely NO REPAIR WHATSOEVER, DESPITE HAVING ADMITTED THAT THE VERY HIGH HEAT CREATED BY THE PROCESSOR OVERHEATING ARE TO BLAME. Especially when trying to create or simply view a 4K video. For some reason this in our finding has been the blame. Heat can bend the small frame of the all glass handset, and with a result, cracks the glass front or back, or even both sides! A bad batch? Who knows, but Sony is no longer our chosen suppliers of hi quality devices! SAMSUNG ALL THE WAY!

Byron there is a bit of controversy about what glass Sony actually uses and whether it is actually Corning Gorilla Glass on the front . It seems it could be “Dragontrail ” glass on the front . Sony seems a bit “elusive ” in its comments on the glass on its phones but ion its official website forum a “Sony Official Support Staff Member states -” there is NO risk that the glass would crack from heat coming from the phone ” -Sony Xperia Z3 . Your actual experience and the admitted overheating problem doesnt make its website forum look too good. Sony , as I posted a long time ago , moved out of China and built a brand new factory in Thailand a year or so ago -d stating all our parts will be made -in house and assembled in one place , whether that was just advertising remains to be seen . Samsung make no bones about it – it uses Corning Gorilla Glass in its advertising . I was aware of the overheating problem and commented on it a good while ago , many posters backing up your statement about it cracking while under heavy use but also in other situations to such an extent that Sony was fielding off angry consumers all round the world. I have their new factory address somewhere on a SSD as well as the complaints .

JIM BEE MAN says:
22 June 2017

i HAVE HAD 4 SCREENS IN JUST OVER 2 MNTHS , JUST CRACKING I WOULD NOT MIND IF I THREW IT ETC , BUT THEY JUST CRACK IN POCKET OR ARM OF CHAIR IN BETWEEN TEXTING REALLY FED UP

russ1669 says:
7 December 2017

My Sony Z compact screen cracked after a very short fall onto my desk. EE replaced the phone FOC.

Alvaro says:
3 August 2018

I have a Z1 and the screen cracked due a pocket fall…but once replaced, the screen magically starts to flick and blink, in the test mode, has a very very small hair line crack in the screen itself, inside the screen, now is broken….

Badly replaced glass Alvaro , contacts not having a 100 % good connection. Complain to your repairer.

Yes complain, and to do this as soon as possible otherwise the repairer can reasonably assume that the faint crack was caused by the user.

Alan Crouch says:
11 August 2018

Sony is not a good company, they are unethical and would rather endanger people than fix an issue they were even told about before they used the 810 processor. I know this is a bit late and all, but well done on the choice not to get a Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, not only is the device flaw filled, but the Sony Support will blame anyone but themselves, what happened to me is i got a new Z5c which was to replace my Z1c which was an amazing phone, and i noticed from the start the phone was hotter when running, with each new OS / FW update the problem seemed to get worse and worse, after 2 weeks there was the first big update, i think its the next android version as the file was 1GB, less than a week later, after leaving my Z5c on my bed not even charging while i went to the shops, i returned to find the rear glass cracked, just above where the CPU is situated, i contacted Sony Support, and they said that since there was not only 1 crack (there is a whole shatter patern inline with the NFC but on the opposite side of the camera, it is what looks like from the side cover, but there is not even a mark / scratch / piece of dust on it so how, especially when its a flat side part, you cant crack glass say 1/3 down hitting the side panel.) it was not their issue. They also said that phones do get hot and that i must not use it while it charges. then the next issue, the heat, after about a month since the glass cracked the phone was getting so hot i could not keep it in my pocket, which i am sure is too hot, and since all this has happened the battery life seems to be getting less and less very quickly no matter how i charge or if i even run a battery calibration, i googled the issues and saw so many others with the issues, and so i have now gone the legal route, since my 3 month old phone Sony has informed me must go into a Repair Center and they cant give me a phone to use while it is in. Another scary issue, is when the glass is cracked, people think it is still waterproof, IT IS NOT, THE CRACK MAKES YOUR PHONE NOT WATERPROOF, so be careful with it if the glass is cracked. I think Sony needs to do the right thing and recall this model, the heat issue they “solved” by throttling the CPU, throttling the CPU means i am not getting the CPU speed as advertised which means false advertising as well. They say it was just a FW fix for now, but i cant see with the damage this has caused already, the FW throttling being taken away, MEANING THE PHONE IS NOT THE SPEC AS ADVERTISED, which is false advertising and means i am not getting what i paid for. So its wrong and also ILLEGAL. Just my review, it seems like a very nice phone, if you are not worried about shattered glass in your ear or waking up an your house is on fire cause the phone got too hot. ALSO PEOPLE, SINCE SONY HAS RELEASED UPDATES THAT LOWER THE PROCESSORS SPEEDS, THIS PHONE IS LOWER THAN THE SPEC ADVERTISED, I ACTUALLY THINK THIS IS DISGUSTING SINCE WE DONT GET OUR MONEY BACK, AND SINCE LEGALLY NO ONE HAS CONFRONTED THEM TO BRING IT BACK UP TO SPEED! ALL SITE SPECS ARE A LIE AND BENCHMARKS NO ON THE LATEST FIRMWARE UPDATE ARE POINTLESS TO EVEN TAKE IN TO CONSIDERATION. Also, every update i got until the last 2 updates, made my phone even hotter, i cant keep it in my pocket anymore and i have read up on the health risks this can cause already, and its very scary this is allowed still. One point in Sony’s favour, which i think is wrong on the above review is that the camera is great, and maybe it is only from updating the firmware but i have compared it on the newest FW for my country (that i could go up to before SONY SOFTWARE stopped updating and just downloaded nothing for 2 days, 8GB of nothing and no phone for 2 days????) and i think the photos are awesome, but the difference in the phone if you record in 4K or normal, is another problem.

For someone to drop his phone, due to it getting so hot, which i can agree with on that, since i cant even put my phone in my pocket. A premium phone, after 3 weeks breaks and i must send it in and be without a PREMIUM PHONE. I am no enterprise, i got the top phone, and its rubbish, why must i now lose out???

Natalie Jordan says:
20 November 2018

I bought a reconditioned z3 from GiffGaff a couple of weeks ago, it cracked within an hour of me having it (user error, dropped from knee height to floor – but come on, really?) I sent it off to be repaired at a local place, since my warranty was voided there and then, and it took them 5 replacement screens (none fixed the screen) and an eventual partial housing replacement before I had it back – 2 weeks later. A few days after that the top of the screen caved in as I pushed a phone protector onto the back. Eggshell thin. GiffGaff of course don’t want to know, because I dropped it, and my stating that the phone was never designed for normal use has made no difference. They are awful phones, I’ll never buy Sony again. I have never been brand loyal, and I don’t have a lot of money so I keep phones for years, reformatting and starting again when they get completely bogged down with processing issues. I miss my galaxy note 2 so much. I wish some of the cheaper smartphones were capable of the tasks I require – I have a really basic backup Pixi but it doesn’t support things like my banking app, and it has so little space. I just want a robust phone that is as clever on the inside as it is tough on the outside!