/ 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

Any other to way to still use the crack screen?? Maybe we can do something…put something conducted to electric such as alluminium foil in the back of lcd so the lcd maybe crack but it still connected to the power by the foil..can we do this method or not?

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K11OXA says:
7 April 2016

I have a sony Xperia z5 4 months old kept in a leather case under 2 year contract with vodafone. Last week noticed a hairline crack 1cm down from the top of the phone going across whole screen. Not dropped or damaged. Sent the phone it to repair centre through vodafone store. Store manager included in his notes to the repair centre there was no visible evidence of damage by me. Called today by third party UTL advising the phone was cracked and out of warranty and will not be repaired unless i pay a repair fee. I have been signposted back to vodafone to challenge their decission and as ever am receiving ridiculously poor customer service from vodaphones technical department.

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I just hope their new Thailand factory is better than the Chinese one they closed down and they start buying Corning Glass . This “excuse ” “accidental damage ” is saving Sony a fortune worldwide .

jan rigden says:
9 April 2016

yes, took my z3 out of my pocket today, never been dropped or scratched, always kept in a case, not working, looked closely and a single crack right across the screen about 2cm from the bottom, not happy as only 6 months old and unmarked otherwise.

very true, today morning, i found my Z1 screen cracked too in the same way (Magically).Unfortunately, its out of warranty now. Most of the times screen is working but sometimes unusual clicks are happening throughout the crack . the screen is now unusable.

kmh says:
5 May 2016

my Experia Z5 which I purchased on 18 March 2016 got a hairline crack on the screen on 30th April 2016 while my phone was in my jumper pocket I was unable use the phone after this, I took the phone into o2 where I purchased it from to be told it would cost me £200 or more as not covered by the warranty it fell into the accidental damage category ( was not my fault!!) I have emailed Sony as yet to receive a response think will be a long time coming!! Needless to say I’m not happy!!

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This comment was removed at the request of the user

Update on my issue going back to 2014 vodafone have now placed my account in the hands of a debt agency and are refusing to take me to court “so i will have to take them to court if thats my wish” so how can i fund a fight against this monster?

So many people logging the same issues and tv programs addressing the same complaint the supply of goods act and breach of contract all going against them and still its down to the little guy consumer to take out a summons against them? REALLY!!!!

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steve says:
5 June 2016

I have a temp fix. Goto a store and buy and lead that goes from micro to standard usb then plug in a mouse. A little cursor will appear and You can then unlock the phone back it up or just use it this way. Hope that helps someone. To add it’s the heat that cracks the screen.

Mr CEO Kazuo Hirai, your company and your people do not care about me. I have been a dedicated Sony buyer for many years. I have loved, and raved about, your products for a very long time. NO MORE. see below. Do you care?
Mr Kazuo Hirai?
So, I got a SONY Z5 about two months ago or so as an upgrade. That one started going wrong after 2 weeks….returned to Sony….meant I had no phone for a day and then had to go to town to get an adapter for my old Z2 as new Z5 SIM was smaller…..did all this at my own time/expense. Got new phone day later. This new phone also started going wrong, but worst of all, first hot day, the screen spontaneously cracked. meant I had no access to phone at all, as didn’t react to swipe etc. Phone was now effectively locked. I had Sam’s 9th birthday photos on there. Have sent it back to Sony, who refuse point blank to replace it at their cost. I have been quoted £118 and they will not budge. Kept repeating himself again and again and again that engineer had found signs of impact. the engineers ARE WRONG!!!!!!! The phone was on passenger seat for 5 mins…worked when I put it down, cracked when I picked it up. I am now left with bill and/or hours of trying to talk to someone somewhere (and he was going to refuse to let me go to complaints department or pass my case on further!!) who will believe me. They are seriously missing the point here…not only was this NOT MY FAULT and I have been hugely inconvenienced from start to finish, but I have lost time AND my sons birthday photos….and they couldn’t give a damn. I WILL NOT BE QUIET. I WILL NOT EVER BUY A SONY PHONE AGAIN, AND I WILL DO EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO TELL EVERYONE I MEET NOT TO BUY AN UNRELIABLE PHONE FROM A COMPANY THAT DONT GIVE A ….
there are too many things going on in the world for this to be that important, but seriously, this is very wrong.
my advice to all from now will always be, forget how amazing their camera is, if the phone continually breaks, and your precious photos are lost in space forever, what’s the point…DO NOT BUY A SONY!!

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This comment was removed at the request of the user

Your ad hoc invetigation is interesting but flawed as many surveys are by not taking into account the number of Sony phones versus the number of Samsungs in existence. In some ways it is immaterial as one rogue phone design is sufficient cause for justified complaints.

The number of people suffering problems versus the number sold in the English speaking markets is probably the truest measure. This may sound picky but when invetigating tagged tyres I found that Brazil , which speaks a form of Portugese, was the place where the information was. Of course searching the common sites was no use whatsoever as they use English.

To tie this back to phones. If I tell you I have produced 5m phones and only get a cracked glass complaint rate of 0.01% that would make it insignificant. If you knew that 4.9m were sold in tropical countries with small temperature variation and 100,000 in countries with temperature extremes where the vast majority of temperature stress induced cracks were appearing …..

Roughly 500 reported cracks on sales of 100,000 [0.5%] would very seem significant if the number reported
for other companies is very much lower. Companies that repair smart phones would be an interesting source of information and perhaps some inside information should be gleaned.

And the point of this is that consumers need to have data so that they can organise more effective actions against multinationals.

It seems so obvious that when problem, such as cracked Sony screens, looks to be more than just isolated instances someone looks at the numbers to see if they are significantly worse than the norm. I have asked Which? to examine this earlier in this Convo on more than one occasion, and to check with their European sister organisations.

“The Which? mission is to make individuals as powerful as the organisations they have to deal with in their daily lives. We identify where consumers are experiencing problems, and through programmes of research, debate and consumer dialogue we develop effective, practical policy solutions.”

Are Which? doing this?

Is it possible for Which? to do this across such a wide field?

Has it set itself an impossible target given that it tries to grapple with so many major concerns with a limited pool of expertise and funding? There is a huge risk of becoming superficial across a broad front rather than perseverant and competent in a narrower spectrum. To some degree there is a conflict between the objectives of magazine publishing in reaching a wide audience and the need to drill down in a defined space to the exclusion of other interests.

And perhaps we have to ask ourselves whether Which? Conversation is a help or a hindrance to the overall mission. Cogitate and propound.

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It would be useful, John, to have a discussion – Convo – about what we expect of Which? I doubt that will be allowed.

You reiterate a good point that has been made before. Which? has monthly magazines to fill, come rain or shine, and that requires effort. However, members provide them with £100 million a year to fund this – not chickenfeed, is it?

I think it does try to do too much on its own, and does a lot of it inadequately. Topics keep cropping up where we should expect a consumer champion to be actively working for both members and the general population that are not properly researched nor followed through to a real conclusion.

And yet it has 40 sister organisations in Europe that it could surely cooperate with more extensively to spread the load and achieve much more.

I, personally, may be on my own here but I’d like to see consumers properly defended, even if that means losing some of the more frivolous content of the magazines. Do what they should be doing well, and don’t bite off more than they can chew. I support it to provide information on the more major consumer issues and products and to defend consumers primarily. not just to buy a glossy magazine.

duncan, take a look at the Dutch consumer groups report and action on Sony phone faults and you will see we are far from alone. They can be found through the BEUC website (beuc.eu), along with the other European consumers associations.

John – You have got to the nub of the problem. What is Which? about?

You are correct that there are practical limitations on what any organisation can achieve and also what it would be wise to avoid.

You do state something that is plain wrong ” a limited pool of expertise and funding?”
Which? is actually rich and has been burning money in commercial ventures during the last five years. The failed Indian Venture was £14.94m in total, the LTIP bonus to four staff £2.24m, currently Which? Financial Services has swallowed £18m.

There needs to be a conversation about the organisation losing its ethos and I have over the past week received over £400 from shareholder members to pay for a mailing to those 7000 Members that remain as shareholders of the Consumers Association. You have to appreciate that we can only contact 3000 for that money but it is important.

The association split into Which? and CA in 1987 to benefit from tax. SInce that time but very particularly under the chairmanship of Barwise control resides with the Which? Ltd Board made up of businessmen and the staff beneficiaries of the £2.24 bonus scheme.

Council conversely met less and less frequently and then 25% of its elected representation on Council.

The new Council has made some token moves so far to improve transparency but unfortunately nothing is concretely been advised to members. I do have far more faith in this current Council. An open letter signed by 28 members in December 2015 has just recently had a reply which provides no real substance other than the status quo is acceptable.

Reverting to what Which? can and cannot do. As a financially trained guy I am very keen on value for money. Compared to the other Consumer bodies is not impressive in a number of ways. Given its budget is easily twice that of Stiftung Warentest [test.de] which is very widely trusted for its testing in Germany you have to wonder why ours is so poor.

There is some serious duplication such as Citizens Advice and Consumers Association [Which?] both providing the same advice and letters on the same laws. In France they have active local solicitors that provide local support to members …..

Currently I am a member of Choice in Australia, and last year Consumer Reports in the US. I have paid for Stiftung Warentest reports, and browsed the websites of several European consumer bodies. If other members also were exposed to the value for money offering of other bodies, and the good ideas worth copying it would be useful. I think improvement is possible; and needed to improve the current offering.

As a member of 30 years I do think Which? is highly useful but it definitely strayed into marketing a Brand. It does need a discussion of members in the open not some reported result of a survey or a focus group.

I have posted several times in the little-known Member forum this posting being to synthsise net based sources and Which? content increasing usability and content at low cost.
member.community.which.co.uk/?plckForumPage=ForumDiscussion&plckDiscussionId=Cat%3a406e2499-f621-4a50-a343-def5d243b41fForum%3a4de3cb67-23d5-4b0d-b7e0-aefdb8fe816bDiscussion%3a1f7bbf86-e514-4fd9-9562-ac3740d22179

Well this illustrates where we should be. The information you give could, if CAWiki existed, benefit from the summary you have given here.

Imagine the ease readers would have to access Sony¬ smartphones¬ Experia z5 or just go straight to Z5 and read the information and be directed to the relevant details if needed

Unfortunately you provide no numbers from the EU associations and this would be so so useful.

The Which? review curiously does not mention the glass cracking
” Is there anything else I should know?
Sony claims that the phone is water and dust resistant – nevertheless any phone is fragile and should be handled with care.”

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As an exercise in lateral thinking this is quite fun. Rather like those West Coast geek factories who when hiring ask you to give a method for calculating the number of piano tuners in San Francisco.

In some ways a development of operational research invented in WW2. This allowed a calculation of Tiger tank production numbers based on part numbers. And the contra- logic realisation where armour was required on planes.

Anyway. Question how many Z5’s suffer from cracked glass. Who knows?

Sony for one. Ask them? Infiltrate? speak to ex-staff?
Company[s] that makes replacement glass?
Company’s that sell repair kits
Company[s] that do repairs
On- line information derived from complaint numbers
YouTube videos with comments and number of people posting how to repair.

As an academic exercise it is interesting to consider the difficulties and costs of obtaining this information, and of course accuracy.

If an unnamed repair shop or two were providing monthly details of repairs [and repair enquiries] then one might have some pretty valid information at small cost. Whether it is ever something to get excited about or not it certainly would give a feel for what is going on.

Sony’s generous replacement policy in Spain may be obscuring the true incidence of the problem in the EU as they alone know the total dealt with.

Or email all Which? members who have given email addresses and ask them if they’ve had one of these phones, and whether it has had a cracked glass or not.

Were there 600 000+ online subscribers? If, so, not a bad sample size even if only 5% respond.

Thank you Patrick. I am not really part of the Sony Xperia phones cracked screen debate but I did feel that Malcolm raised an interesting question about how Which? is performing against its stated mission. I have no discontentment about Which? but I think it is occasionally useful to consider where we are going, whether we are on the right path to get there, and whether we are carrying so much baggage there is a risk we won’t make it. Mission creep is a well-known phenomenon in expeditionary ventures. I am glad you see continuing and developing value in Which? Conversation. It’s product and service performance pressures that are stretching Which?’s capability and taking it to the limits of its expertise and capacity and everything now seems to have a global dimension. At the same time the public’s [and members’ and staff’s] expectations of Which? continue to rise and I think it is worth considering how far a privately-funded non-government organisation can be expected to go without losing sight of its fundamental purpose.

Diesel – I am sorry if I under-estimated Which?’s capacity but that is how I see it. From where I stand, Which? does have limited resources given its remit. Whatever its wealth, if its objectives are boundless and the expectations infinite then it’s income and talent are not going to be sufficient.

I am not particularly concerned about the commercial and extra-territorial matters you refer to. If I didn’t think Which? was running along more or less the right lines I would not renew my subscription. It will learn from its mistakes. I don’t follow the internal politics of Which? so I think your suggestion of discussing those matters in the Members’ Forum is a good idea.

John, the members Forum would be the correct place to discuss matters about Which?’s policy and performance, rather than perhaps in “public”. However it is very very underused, not friendly to navigate (entries easily become lost and need searching for) and I doubt many members read it. Rarely do any contributions start a discussion. It could be so much better if the same sort of makeover were devoted to it as Patrick has to the Convos.

I still find it frustrating when we ask questions of Which? that we rarely get answers. Perhaps a sign of under-resourcing but if people who bother to make contributions to Convos and the Members Forum, dig out information, request relevant information, do not see an interest in providing answers then enthusiasm can wane.

I regret that my contributions from time to time are blunt and can be critical of Which?’s handling of consumer problems. I may have the wrong understanding of what Which? should be doing; if I am told that I will accept it. But if you do not say what you really think, and accept rational replies, I don’t see the purpose in conversing – except those frivolous conversations or diversions that can brighten up our day.

Gloomy weather, grass needs cutting, bindweed in the garden, didn’t sleep …………….. 🙁

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DjLiLaLRSA says:
9 August 2017

There are more high end Samsungs, than high end Sony’s. Obviously.

The Dutch also mentioned a fragile connection port but I don’t recall any mention of this from commenters on this Convo.

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consumentenbond.ne
“Since the summer of 2013, the Consumer Association has more than 350 reports were received from consumers. The screen on their Sony Xperia Z burst spontaneously or the USB port damaged quickly. The Consumers paid attention to this in September 2013, after which Sony repair helped a number of consumers with a free repair of the defective Sony Xperia Z. But Sony sent a large part of the customers back to the seller, who then refused phone at no charge .

In addition, the Consumers’ Association still receives new complaints from consumers who belong to the seller get the repair is not covered under warranty.”

Hi, I got a Sony Xeripa Z5 Compact…

A)
The phone runs hot if you watch videos and it gets so hot you can not put it in your pocket until you wait 5 mins ..

B)
I have a 64GB SDcard installed, (formatted on the Sony phone) .. now if i switch Off the phone, It fails on restart and gets trapped in a boot Loop… And again gets very Hot.. only solution is to physically eject the SDcard to re-boot the Phone.

C)
NOW cutting to the chase.. left phone on charge OVER NIGHT (with the supplied) Sony charger ov.. Guess what ? When unplugged the rear glass window/cover is all cracked ! .. Well cracked means it looks like its been dropped or twist on one corner and the crack/s all emanate from there. Absolutely gobsmacked as my phone has never been DROPPED/SAT ON OR TWISTED OUT OF SHAPE.. its spot less with no dinks or scares etc..

D)
EE have told me it’s not covered by warranty and that I am more than likely facing a repair bill !
I insisted they Escalate my issue and found same response THUS FAR..

E) so turn toward the internet and wham ! i am not alone in pitching the facts that the Sony Xperia has Cracked all on its Own…. what happens next will be reported back here as and When… but rest assured I am NOT PAYING FOR A REPAIR… so EE/SONY need step up and replace my Phone ASAP…
if fact I am wondering if a want a different make of phone as I have NEVER EVER had a broken screen in 25 years of cell phone usage…

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Franco says:
1 August 2016

I thought I was the only one. I am an engineer and an EXPERT in car accidents (damage and injuries). This one is easy: these are THERMAL cracks. I was in Southern Utah taking photos on a hot day, and as usual BOTH MY xPERIA PHONE, 15 MONTHS OLD, and My Xperia Tablet, got hot. So I interchanged their use while the other one cooled in the AC of the car. At the end of the day, both were CRACKED. The phone almost invisible cracks. Neither Verizon nor Sony will own to it. Lawsuit on the making. Anyone would like to join me?

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I have a Sony phone approx 15 months old and have come across the heat problem twice each time next day cracks appear first time phone 8 months old Sony did a FOC Repair now 8 months later same fault Sony want to charge me £90 to replace screen RIP OFF

gary says:
1 August 2016

going for my 4th screen today nearly over it , what action can be taken though really ?

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This comment was removed at the request of the user

My z1 and now my z3 compact have both cracked screens. The cracks literally appeared by themselves on both models. Wont be buying sony again.

I’m still sad about my Z3 compact. I waited and waited for it to come out, paid full price for it (handset only), then the first night I charged it the back cracked by itself, presumably from overheating. Sony just said I must’ve dropped it, which I clearly hadn’t done and refused to fix it for free. So, I’ve had a very expensive coaster for 2 years. Probably not worth anything now but what a waste of money and a rubbish experience! They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this!

I also bought a Sony Z3, had it only 2 months, never ever broken any of my phones, but with this one it was simply sitting on a desk came back a few hours later and hair lines all over the shop, could not believe it. I contacted everyone Sony, Telstra, they all kept saying I must have dropped it, which I bloody well did not! I believe that Sony are a pack of crooks. Just to top it off normally when a phone has screen damage it still works but not this piece of ****. I don`t believe there is enough being posted about this, WARNING DONT BUY SONY PHONES THEY ARE ****, will never go near the **** again I hope they go broke in the same manner I was conned for $845.

(Edited by moderators: We have edited your comment as it contained profanity. Please read our commenting guidelines for more information).

This happend to me yesterday. Picked up my phone from my desk and all of a sudden there was a long clean crack from the top right corner to a bit above the bottom left corner…. I always keep my phone in a flip case for the best protection.

Sony doesnt want to repair it under warranty because the claim that the phone might have been dropped…. But the flip case doesnt show damage and also there isnt a burst in the screen, just 1 long crack…

I think that because of high temprature (30 degrees here) the alluminium casing has deformed/expanded in such a way that there came too much pressure on the screen and it cracked. Phone is only 10 months old…

I for sure will never buy from Sony again, their support is terrible

*i forgot to add, my phone is Xperia Z3

I have a Sony z3 and have found the same problem as it cracked in my pocket whilst walking.
As it had not been dropped , crushed etc. I send it to Sony only to get the answer was its not covered under warranty as its not a manufacturing fault. When I asked what they define manufacturing faults are they said they could not give that information out to. So it was a waste of £20 to send to Sony so they could just say its not covered under warranty. It was in the official sony case at the time so I would also not recommend those either 🙂
I have used Sony for years but I think its time to look for a new brand.

My personal theory is that if the screen is on for a while it can get hot and can become brittle and shatter as I also had audio playing don’t know if this added to mix but certainly could have.

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My Ultra got really hot so I whipped it out of my pocket and put it on my kitchen work surface. The surface was cold and I watched dumbfounded as the phone screen cracked before my eyes and the whole phone warped into a curve.
I had to pay +£400 for repair as no liability would be accepted under the warranty. I was accused of damaging the phone, despite the repair company replacing both the screen and the part that had overheated.
I just moved provider as they were no help, it was easier than complaining further. Besides, Sony just ignore you or fob you off with standard responses.
I love the phone, it has the best interface I have come across, but the build quality always seemed suspect to me, it was creaky and the charger port seal kept falling out.

mariakatosvich says:
25 October 2016

They should by now have moved out of China and set up a new plant in Thailand because of the heavy criticism and should be manufacturing there but I would be interested if someone can supply info on the Thailand factory producing cracked glass as their advertisement for the new factory is that ALL parts will be made in the one place putting forward the view then that the China plant outsourced it component parts.