/ 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

May I ask yet again why Which? has been pretty silent on this issue?

@patrick, thanks for the update. Disappointing that no cause could be found. Do you (and other BEUC members) have any evidence that the proportion of Sony Xperia Z phones that crack is significantly more than other makes? This could indicate an inherent design fault – whether in material or construction.

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Removed the gel cover on my phone today to discover a shattered back, for the second time. I only got the phone in July, I’ve had a shattered back from a 30cm drop, followed by a crack developing in the screen in front of my eyes as it sat untouched on the table. Didn’t really believe my own eyes at the time so after getting a quote I had it repaired locally, but now the touchscreen has developed a dead line and when I removed the gel cover I discovered the back has shattered again. It’s less than six months since I bought it on a two year contract.

I’ve had Sony/Sony Ericsson phones since the Z610 i clamshell, and I’ve never had a problem before so I’m so disappointed. I’m going to try taking it up with Sony after the festive period……wish me luck!!

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I have had a Sony Z Ultra for the last 7 months which I take great care of. I have a cover for it and a glass screen protector. This morning The alarm on the phone woke me up as usual at 05.10 and between then and 06.00 when I took it out of my jacket pocket to put on my desk. It had developed a V shaped hairline crack . I assumed it was the protective glass cover but found that sadly it was the screen underneath. It was at no time stressed physically or by heat. I went on line immediately to find out if this is a known problem and found this site pretty quickly. As much as I am glad to find I am not on my own I am shocked that Sony are pretending that this is a problem that does not exist.

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Xperia Z series dosn’t ever crack . how did you put this post to say this jokes !?!? wtf ! i used xperia z for 3 year in hard situation and still dosn’t borken ! i don’t know why everyone try say bulls**t about xperia phones !

Sontyfan, how do you explain the many people who report screen cracking without impact damage?

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Ciaran says:
8 January 2016

Another one here. Took my Z3 out of my pocket and realised the bottom half of the screen wasn’t working and I couldn’t unlock my phone. On closer inspection, there was a small hairline crack extending from the bezel on the left hand side of the screen.

I contacted Sony and got the same response as everyone here – send it in and we’ll look at it.

Don’t think I’ll bother. Really disappointing!

My phone cracked 3 days ago. I put it in my pocket, walked down the stairs and took the phone out of my pocket to put in my car holder, only to see the top part of the screen to be cracked and crumbling shards across the ear speaker. I went in to carphone warehouse and they said it would cost me £80 to get it fixed!! I am the first to admit when I drop my phone (my last Samsung was smashed for 18 months of my 24 month contract) and out of my own annoyance I never got it fixed but, this Xperia Z3 shattering was not my fault. It is 2 months old and it does not have a scratch or chip on it anywhere so I am baffled. Anyone had any luck in getting it fixed? I had a rather heated chat with the woman in the shop but I think it is Sony itself that I need to speak to or, find a cheaper place to get it repaired. How have Sony still got the nerve to say there is nothing wrong in the manufacturing.

Bob L says:
11 January 2016

Chalk up another one. One month old Z3+ front glass cracked in pocket. This time multiple cracks rather than one or two hairline cracks but no obvious point of initiation – I’d expect the cracks to radiate from a particular point but this was not the case. Very disappointed seeing as the phone is marketed towards the active lifestyle.

The heat build up on the phone is worrying and something I have not seen on any other brand of phone. There camera seems to shut down after about 20 seconds and the phone gets very hot – is this affecting other users? It is clearly necessary to use a good protective case, however this will only compound the heating problem – bit of a catch 22.

I have sent the phone to sony for repair, rather than a 3rd party to keep the warranty intact given the phone’s age. Given how badly cracked the screen was they have put it down to misuse and a £130 repair quote. During the online chat with the sony agent they repeatedly denied any known issues with the screen – this was before I began looking on all the forums.

The theory of inclusions in the glass combined with heat is reasonable. If engineering hygiene standards or quality control standards are poor in the Chinese factory (historically pretty common in some sectors of Chinese industry) then is is feasible that certain batches of screens would be affected only.

I can see that the most likely course of action if I want the phone back anytime soon is to pay the price to have the repair but formally register my concerns in the eventuality that Sony do admit there is a problem. Beyond that add one more voice to a growing body of annoyed customers.

I’m off to make a new phone case using cotton wool and bubble wrap…

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Bob L says:
11 January 2016

Stock answer from Sony – took them about 10 seconds to type so clearly a cut and paste commonly used response.

Jess: Thank you for providing me with this information, with regards to the query you posted as you are aware, your Sony Xperia Z3+ has recently been examined by engineers at our service location. They have identified that your handset is not covered under the manufacturers’ warranty and the display cracking is not due to defects in design, materials or workmanship As with any issue on your handset our engineers would fully examine the handset and the issue to see if it is covered by the terms and conditions of the Sony warranty. In this case they have diagnosed that the issue appeared not due to component failure but as a result of impact or stress damage on the screen. We are unable to comment as to how or when this form of damage has occurred we can only comment on the findings upon completion of the investigation. Therefore, we regret to inform you that we will uphold the conclusions made by our service location and will not repair nor replace your Sony Xperia Z3+ due to the nature of the fault not being covered by our warranty as it is not a manufacturing fault or defect. You have 3 options regarding the quotation that has been raised: you can pay the quotation to have the handset repaired, arrange to have the handset returned unrepaired or arrange to have the handset recycled. We will be sticking with the decision made by our repair centre based on the findings of our technicians. This decision is final. We will not waiver any of the charges, this is non-negotiable. You have 90 days to respond to the quotation from the date you were first notified of the quote by email. To view/respond to your quote you will need to login at http://www.sonymobile.com/gb/ (using the same details used to book the repair) then go to Support > My support > Orders and Messages. From here you can view the repair quotation and respond/make payment.
robert ling: I suspected this would be your response. To whom to I write to formally express my displeasure with the product?
Jess: You can send any complaints either by email or post. If you wish to send this by email please send this to: questions.gb@support.sonymobile.com or if you would prefer to send a letter, please address this to us at:
Sony Xperia, PO BOX 322, Gateshead, NE11 9ZW.
robert ling: OK, thankyou. Lets hope the Thailand factory can produce a better product in future.

I have had a Z1 and a Z3. The Z1 cracked in my pocket and when I called Sony they refused to accept it was a fault. I had it repaired through geeksquad and it cost me 180 quid or so. Plus 2 weeks without a phone.

I now have a Z3 (despite the cracked glass I do love the phones) and within a month of getting it I left it on the seat of our camper van while I worked (installing a car stereo) under the dash. When I picked the phone back up it was cracked across the back.

I assumed I must have done something to cause it but I could not understand what that could be. As the back was the problem I have simply lived with it. A brand new phone, with a damaged glass back. That was 9 months ago.

The fragility of the phone handsets is a serious downside to one of the best phones around. Sony need to deal with this issue.

My Z3 has just done the same thing. It was sat on my desk next to my Z1, I looked at twitter then put it down, looked back 2 minutes later and it cracked from top to bottom and I’m now unable to unlock it.
Judging by this thread I’m not going to be successful in making Sony believe the truth. Do I just get it repaired and not buy Sony in future?

I got my z3 roughly 5 minutes later a large crack appeared on the back

Andy says:
20 January 2016

Just took my Z3 out of my front pocket a couple of days ago to see it cracked all down one side, as time elapsed these cracks have expanded to a point whereby the phone looks completely shattered. Touch screen no longer works, bit display seems unaffected. I contacted Sony asking for a price and I got this.

Chris: I am sorry but we would not be able to advise any sort of costs/estimates until the handset has been examined at our repair center by one of our engineers. If you do not agree with the costs of the repair you can have the product sent back unrepaired for a fee of approx £22.00 but this would only stand if the handset is out of warranty.

I can see what is coming a mile off, good thing I read this conversation…

My university friend also has a Z3 and his back plate is cracked.

Had the phone for around 4 months.

Ill keep you all updated but the glass seems to crumble, as described by earlier posts.

I have owned a couple of htcs, as well as a Samsung. Never had any issues with the screens.

John says:
25 January 2016

I sent my z3 in to Sony with an impact crack on the back glass and a mystery cracked front. I was awaiting a quote to repair but have just received an email saying my device is on its way back to me?!?! Hoping they’ve repaired free of charge…TBC

Dave McG says:
28 January 2016

I have just picked up my 8month old M2, which was,lying upside-down on my bed near my pillow – and found it is basically shattered!

Where it was, I could not have dropped or knocked it in my sleep. Is it like to have happened by randomly overheating?

The phone has been I the same place most nights. NOT HAPPY!

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Dave McG says:
28 January 2016

Having now read thru these comments, I do not see any hope in complaining to Sony.

I will therefore vote with my feet and stop purchasing from them (once again!). I have now ordered a £10.94 generic touchscreen cover from Amazon UK, which will hopefully see out my contract.

Shame,as good product otherwise – I was also considering upgrading to a Z, but maybe missed a bullet!

Dave McG says:
28 January 2016

P.S. Thank you to the person who highlighted the Corning website info. I will certainly check approved manufacturers in future.

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Many have referred to cracking of the glass on the back of their Xperia phones. That seems to be an unnecessary weakness in the design. Do other phones have glass on the back? Why not use plastic or metal, except for the glass or plastic camera lens?

Well. Having been brought up to always tell the truth and believing it is the best option I sent my Z3 to Sony only to be told it’s damage not covered by warranty and it has cost me £22 to get it back.
What is most annoying is that the Unable to Repair Return Form is blank ie no reason for return filled in.
Poor practice.
Being suitably qualified and working in electronic repair I have ordered a screen from the bay and will do it for less than half of the quote.
Back to Samsung next time.
Just hope my PlayStation can hold out too.
Grrrrr.

Chris says:
29 January 2016

My Z5 compact has developed a hairline crack on the back panel after just two months of very careful use. The phone has been cosseted, not dropped, thrown or bent. I sent my otherwise immaculate phone back to Sony and now find my warranty claim has been turned into a Repair Order – Quotation. The covering email contained the cheerful blank response: ‘….not covered under warranty but don’t worry we can still help… – for £60.48!
I have contacted the Sony Careline – they told me the crack was being treated as ‘cosmetic’ damage. Well, that’s not really the point. Either I’ve been unlucky and there was some fault in manufacture or it’s a design problem. I should really be able to use the phone normally without the case cracking – isn’t that what the case is for? and it’s not as if I have a James Bond lifestyle! mind you, he does tend to through his phones in the bin quite frequently.
On the ‘cosmetic’ issue, I’d have thought any crack would compromise the water-resistance of the phone. A hairline crack, most of all, given the potential to suck water in through capillary action?
I am awaiting a call from the technical people 4-5 working days. I hope they will re-consider their decision and repair under warranty.

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I bought a Sony Xperia z3 compact today from carphone warehouse. I unpacked it put the screen saver on the front. Put the sim in and plugged it in to charge it up. I put the phone down on the table for a few seconds. When I picked it up again I could hear this cracking noice I thought it was like an electricity noise so I unplugged it but could still hear the noise. I turned the phone over and literally watched the glass at the back of the phone shatter into tiny pieces!!!
I returned the phone to the shop(told them I had unpacked it broken) and after they rang head office they gave me a new phone.
Now I’ve been reading loads of stuff on the Internet about a fault with these phones why are they still being sold. I am now worried how long this second one is going to last for I’m going back to carphone warehouse tomorrow to discuss it with them.
I’m always careful with my phones I’ve never had one break before I’ve signed up for a 24 month contract so I expect this phone to last me 2 years. very worried!!!!

In the same boat I still have a year and a half on this contract and have sent it in for replacement twice now. Sorry to hear your having the same problems

this has happened to my sony xperia z3 2 times now I have sent it into sony they replaced the phone the first time and will do that again the second time so long as I’m still on the one year warranty ( which I only have for 2 more months). I was told by Sony that because it is a waterproof phone the phone has a tenancy to overheat because there is no place for the heat the phone creates to escape, and therefore a small hairline cracks happen because the heat is trying to escape the phone. Good to know sony… That does not fix the problem that I only have warranty for 2 more months. After the first replacement thats about all the time it took to break again. Crap phone, if you can’t make a waterproof phone that does not have these issues don’t make a waterproof phone.

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