/ Technology

The mysterious case of a cracked Samsung Galaxy S3

Samsung Galaxy S3

If your mobile phone screen developed a crack, whose responsibility would it be? Yours, the retailer’s or the manufacturer’s? We think you shouldn’t be left out of pocket for something that’s not your fault…

Picture the scene. You’ve just bought a brand new mobile phone – a pretty snazzy smartphone, by all accounts. Then you notice a mysterious hairline crack on the screen. You haven’t dropped or manhandled it. Yet, your mobile phone company is refusing to offer you an exchange or refund. Seems a little rubbish doesn’t it?

Return to sender?

However, this was the reality for one Which? member who noticed hairline cracks on the screen of his brand new Samsung Galaxy S3. When he returned his faulty phone to his local Orange shop within 24 hours of buying it, exchange was refused on the basis that the phone must have left the store intact.

Finally, after lots of complaining in person and on the phone, Orange has now offered to refund the cost of the cracked Samsung Galaxy S3. Also, as a gesture of goodwill Orange is cancelling his 24-month contract. Orange conceded that he should have been given the opportunity to inspect the phone after it was handled by retail staff. It has also offered £20 compensation for the inconvenience caused.

So who is responsible for faulty products? The Sale of Goods Act stipulates that goods purchased must be of satisfactory quality. If they aren’t, the retailer will be in breach of contract.

Your rights for faulty goods

If you buy a product that turns out to be faulty, you can choose to reject it, as long as you do so within a reasonable time frame. That means you can give it back and get your money back. If you prefer, or if more than a reasonable amount of time has passed since your purchase, you can ask for either a repair or replacement. 

It’s the seller’s responsibility to prove that a faulty product was damaged or misused by you if the problem arises within six months of buying the product.

If you’re in a similar situation, don’t forget your three Rs – rejection, refund and replacement. Make sure you’re not left out of pocket for a fault that is not your own.

Has your smartphone ever developed a hairline crack? What did your mobile phone provider tell you if you tried to return it?

M. T. T. says:
13 December 2012

Open to abuse by customers who do in fact mishandle their device – regardless of how long they have had it.

With any new product it is important to check for physical damage and then to check that it is in full working order. If not, it must be rejected promptly. I have never heard of anyone having difficulty in exchanging a new product, other than a car.

Customers deserve protection, but so do retailers and manufacturers.

The Galaxy S3 has a very large screen, making it much more vulnerable to damage than an old mobile with a tiny screen. It would be relevant to know what advice Samsung give regarding how it should be treated. If this has been followed and the screen breaks then the product is – in my mind – not of satisfactory quality.

On another Conversation there have been many reports of faulty Kindle ebook readers and it seems likely that at least some of the failures are due to mechanical damage. One person took their Kindle apart and saw evidence of fracture behind the screen.

It does seem that manufacturers have been too keen to provide ultra-thin products that may not be sufficiently durable for everyday use. Perhaps it is time for independent experts to assess and test products to see if they are really too fragile to be practical.

If there is any doubt about whether the customer has damaged a product or whether it was not sufficiently durable, the customer should be given the benefit of the doubt.

I have read that the replacement for the S4 could be ‘unbreakable’, so maybe Samsung realises that the S3 is not up to the job. Any company that does market a product as unbreakable could be setting a challenge and might have to revise its description.

steve morrell says:
24 July 2013

I have just requested that Samsung return my Galaxy S 3 l t e after they decided that my screen had cracked through miss-use .I am not prepared to pay £125 for a piece of glass that has broken through a design fault . I have spoken to a number of people on this issue who have experienced the same problem . One of those people manages a mobile phone shop and has stated that he has never known so many disappointed Samsung galaxy S 3 owners and is constantly approached by customers with broken screen problems . When I contacted Samsung directly to inquire about my screen I was told they have never received a complaint . Personally I think they need to wake up to what could end up being a costly problem . The phone shop manager told me that they are aware of the problem and that they try and steer their customers towards I phones or the new Nokia . He feels that if Samsung own up to the problem the floodgates will open . Personally ,I am going back to an I phone and the S 3 can go in the bin . My wife also runs a Galaxy ( not the s 3 ) but on termination of her contract she too will be changing manufacturers .The phone itself is a really decent unit but it is by no means perfect . Mine was kept in a leather case and as a 63 year old feel that I have been totally responsible during my ownership . I also have a 3 year old” I ” phone 3 g s which is in mint condition and going back into service . Take a look on e bay and see how many people are selling s 3″s with broken glass screens. My fault started with a small discolouration on the bottom of the screen and every time I picked the phone up to use it another crack appeared until eventually the whole screen was cracked just about everywhere . Get your act together Samsung and sort this out !!!!!!!

ginswin says:
17 December 2012

I have had my Samsung Galaxy S3 bout 6 months now. I went to use it the other day
And I noticed loads of spider type cracks. They are at the top by the
Speaker. I have it in a case I haven’t dropped it or knocked it.
I phoned Samsung as I googled it and lots of people are having the
Same problem. They didn’t want to know said I’m not covered and it’s £150
to replace. I’m not paying for something I haven’t done. I am totally devastated
As the cracks are getting worse. Where do I stand. Not happy at all.
I will be taking this further. What ever u do. DON’T BUY A SAMSUNG GALAXY S3.

If it was under six months old when you reported the problem then you could have a valid claim, though that would be against the retailer rather than the manufacturer I believe. Best of luck.

ginswin says:
17 December 2012

Hi Florence

I will do. I had no luck with Samsung. May have to go to Watchdog
Or Trading Standards. I am very angry

Thanks Paul

Rachael says:
19 February 2013

I will back you if you go to watch dog and me and my company are far from happy with our samsung s3 model and the mysterious cracks!


My partner’s Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone also developed a hairline crack at the beginning of December for no apparent reason and it’s getting bigger and continues to grow as time passes. This phone is only four months old.

We contacted Orange (EE) by phone on at least four occasions to advise them that we were going to cancel our contract/direct debit as the Galaxy S3 contravenes the 1979 Sales of Goods Act and, surprise surprise, they denied any knowledge of any problem with the Galaxy S3 and told us to contact Samsung as it was their problem and not Oranges, they were as much use as a chocolate teapot. We also contacted Samsung and they weren’t any better either. Both are denying any knowledge of any problems with the gorilla glass 2 on the Samsung Galaxy S3 developing hairline cracks for no apparent reason and both are refusing to do anything about it. We realise that the responsibility lies with Orange/Everything Everywhere as the contract is them. The phone was even sold to her for £30.00 by EE.

We have since sent a letter recorded delivery to EE to their head office and gave them 7 days to reply. Finding EE’s head office address was an achievement in itself as it took a 20 minute phone call and being passed from pillar to post to ascertain from EE what their head office postal address is. It’s little wonder that Orange have topped the list of the most complained about company in the UK.

For anyone wanting EE’s (Orange) head office postal address it’s Everything Everywhere Ltd, Hatfield Business Park, Hatfield, Hertfordshire. AL10 9BW. Company Number from Companies House.Gov is 02382161.

As yet, we have not heard from EE, but we have had the festive period to contend with too. We will be giving EE until just past the New Year to reply and then we will be writing to them again, recorded delivery, confirming the cancellation of the contract and will cancel the direct debit.

Will update if/when any response from EE.


Rachael says:
19 February 2013

HI, Have you heard anything? I am having excatlythe same problem. I am considering watchdog as the next step!

Let me know


John Stevens says:
11 April 2013

Hi Rachael. Have finally got a good result. Three are giving e a new phone. See my updated post. Am happy to share letters I sent them

Bec C says:
20 August 2015

Hi John,

I have a Sony xperia Z3 which shattered in my hand, EE couldn’t care less and Sony want me to pay to get it fix saying I damaged it! I didn’t. If you still have the letters please could you share? Many thanks..

ginswin says:
7 February 2013

I have finally got my Samsung Galaxy S3 back from Ee repair shop. They have gad it since Dec 27th and they said its not covered under the warranty. I am now going straight to samsung. If no luck with them. I will be going to Trading Standards. I am not paying for something which I believe is a fault with the phone. Keep you posted. I am really angry.

John Stevens says:
9 February 2013

I have exactly the same problem with my galaxy s3. I got the phone at the end of November on my three upgrade. Two nights ago I left my phone on the mantle piece. The next morning I come down to discover a hairline crack. Went into three store today. They said it will cost me twenty pounds to send it for assessment and then repair cosy. Why? It is not my fault. And the phone is less than old!

Rachael says:
19 February 2013

What was the outcome regarding your phone. Same thing happened to me and Samsung are claiming no one has ever complained to them about this? trying to get proof that that is wrong! will be cancelling my contract with EE and not going back to a samsung either!


John Stevens says:
19 February 2013

Went back to three store, kicked up a big fuss saying there is documented evidence of these cracks and quoted sale of goods act to hem. They sent the phone off without the initial £20 charge. Am still waiting to hear back from them!

John Stevens says:
20 February 2013

Had a letter from Three this morning…..says that the damgage is physical and therfore not covered under the warranty. So have given me four options: 1) get phone upgrade (haha, that what i have just done!!) 2.) They repaire the phone for £80 and won’t charge me £20 admin fee 3.) Talk to my insurance company (but I am pretty sure my excess is £50!)
or 4.) They will return the handset inb its present condition, but will apply the £20 admin fee!!

I am phoning them later so await the outcome……

ginswin says:
21 February 2013

Hi Rachael and John no good not covered under warranty EE said absolute joke. Im up for going
To Watchdog as we are all getting fobbed off. Obviously a problem
With Samsung Galaxy S3.

John Stevens says:
16 March 2013

Have been in to Three shop today, all I can say is they are probably the rudest shop staff I have ever come across! Basically, when the phone came back…the first time…it can back with more damage than it was sent with! Shop very reluctant to sort any compensation out. Eventually got a really crap loan phone from them! Phone sent away again. They have said I have to deal with customer services, not them! Priceless! So, spent near enough an hour to the call centre this afternoon. At least it meant I didn’t have to watch the humiliation in the rugby! Have got five weeks credit from them, lodged a complaint and am now awaiting a return call from complaints next week. My demand have been noted – more compensation, a minimum of another months credit, my phone repaired free of charge…..or, as I have stated an alternative phone of equal value….if not then I have said I will report them to trading standards, watchdog etc, and if they don’t do anything then my custom will go elsewhere…so I will happily support any reports to watchdog etc you want to take…..

ginswin says:
16 March 2013

Ill back u 100 percent joke being fobbed off. Im Angry

John Stevens says:
19 March 2013

Have begun to make some progress…..three complaints rang! The woman admitted that they had seen other cases like this! She then said that it was a Samsung problem andi should speak directly to them……clearly trying to get me off their backs! I didn’t accept this, saying Samsung had already told me to go through my retailer. My complaint has now been “escalated” and I can expect another member of complaints to contact me. I can begin to see a happy outcome……….

John Stevens says:
11 April 2013

Result!!!! Finally….sent letters/ emails to Three customer services in Glasgow two wee ago. Thus was after conversation with very rude call centre guy, who still wouldn’t accept any of my issues. Got holding email back. Then surprise surprise….a very aggressive call from call centre guy, who lied through he teeth.ni then emailed Glasgow again. Today get phone call from Glasgow. Very helpful chap explains what he has been doing I sort situation. Explains Samsung refuse, even to him, I accept they have a problem with the phones. He says he has seen from the Internet links I gave him that there is a problem. He explains that because of this, the hassle I have had and the fact that I am a valued customer, that he will replace the phone! So we phone arriving soon. It’s taken time, patience and nerve but it is possible to get a good outcome from this. Am more than happy to share letter that I sent if anyone wants.

John Stevens says:
11 April 2013

Have just posted an update…..have finally gota result, Three are giving me a new phone!

ginswin says:
27 June 2013

Hi John

Still had no luck give up. Been to Samsung said it was EE or Orange

Pass the buck. EE did send it for repair but then said had to pay 150 pounds as cracked screen not covered under warranty.

Dont know wat else to do. Phone is usable but still cracked

Im not paying for something that I haven’t done anything wrong

Thanks Appreciate it if someone could get bk to me.


Harinder says:
12 March 2013

Hi can someone please help me. I’ve purchased a Samsung s3 lte for my 60yr old mum. The phone is faulty. You can’t answer calls sometimes, or end call the phone locks itself whilst dailing out, back light decreases and increases randomly. On the 13th day of her new contract my mum went back to the ee store and was told to keep using it and maybe she wasn’t using it correctly!! I went in 2 days later on my first day off work and was told that an exchange was only valid within 14days, so tough. I could sent it for repairs or upgrade the software myself.
I upgraded the software called orange and they spent hours daignosing the problem but found nothing and told me to go to the store. So back to the ee store hrs of waiting and the phone can only be sent for repair as its over 14days. 15days later I pick up the phone after repair and the phones worse!! No the if I do manage to make a call from it people can’t hear me!! Called orange and spent 2hours on the phone only to be told they won’t replace handset but I can send for repair again and keep sending until device centre fix fault?!?
I’ve brought into a 2yr contract for mum they phones been at we shop longer then with us. Can I do anything?? All I want is a replacement.

Your mum reported the problem within 13 days, so I suggests she goes back and asks for a little goodwill. If they are difficult, try again when a different manager is on duty. Best of luck!

ROB says:
23 April 2013

Please check out my 2 videos i made on you tube about this fault and Samsungs executive office in the UK attitude to doing absolutely nothing.


Hi. I bought a Samsung S3 in October from Dialaphone. Unfotunately dropped the phone and cracked the screen not long afterwards but as the crack was hairline and had no effect on the performance of the phone I didn’t have it repaired. Fast forward to last month and the phone re-booted itself in the middle of the night and now goes no further than the logo screen when switching it on. This problem also happened to a work colleague 8 hours after it happened to mine!

I’ve done a fair bit of research on the internet and found it referred to it as ‘Sudden Death Syndrome’ (SDS) which is particular to a certain motherboard on the phone. One internet discussion board I’ve seen has a thread on it which was over 850 pages long the last time I looked.

I sent it straight to Samsung to have the motherboard repaired under warranty but Samsung (despite being completely aware of the SDS) refused to repair it under warranty saying the phone had suffered ‘liquid ingress’. The phone has never been in contact with water and I can only presume the indicators have changed colour due to other factors widely reported on the internet.

I’ve had the phone back from Samsung so I’ve sent the phone to Dialaphone in the hope of having the motherboard repaired under the Sale of Goods act since it was clearly a problem with the phone when it was purchased. Dialaphone are refusing to do anything unless I pay £120 for a replacement screen since they are claiming it is out of warranty due to the crack. I wouldn’t expect a car warranty invalidated had I broken the wing mirror so should that be the case with a phone?

Where do I stand as regards having it fixed the Sale of Goods act? I’m not bothered that the screen is cracked and not insisting that it is replaced. I just want the phone returned to a functioning state.

An update….

After a couple of emails back and forth Dialaphone offered to pay half of the cost of replacement of the screen as a gesture of goodwill.

However, before I wend any further I wanted assurances that there would be no further the cost for repairing the fault that was with the phone. I had given them 7 days to respond to this or I would start court proceedings.

On the 7th day I had an email to say that they would replace the phone. Result.

My tactic was to refuse to answer the phone to them and insist on email/written correspondence so that I had a record of everything they said. The key is be persistent. Don’t give in!

Ash Bhai says:
1 July 2013

I have had a problem with my I phone 5, ever since i got it in the first week of April, It kept dropping calls, losing signal, not looking for signal. I started complaining about it after 2 weeks, and finally after hours of phone calls to EE and Apple, and 2 visits to my nearest apple store, they agreed last week to give me a replacement handset! I was going to London on friday for Wimbledon, so decided to wait until this week to send it back. Whilst i was there i was calling home and as usual the call dropped half way through, as i looked at my phone to check if i had a signal, a hefty slightly drunk chap, knocked the phone out of my hand, and the phone fell on the pavement and cracked the screen. The phone still works with the same fault, but i know that EE and Apple will use the crack as an excuse for not replacing now!
Any Ideas on how to convince them to carry out replacement? Or am i on to a losing battle?

Will Tate says:
3 October 2013


Having similar problems with EE and some advice needed!

The charge port broke on my SIII mini, meaning I could not charge the phone. The phone is in warranty and I sent it off for repair through an EE shop who said I could expect a return within a month.

However, a month later I have contacted the repair centre to chase my phone who say they are unable to look at fixing the phone due to a hairline crack in the glass of the screen (does not affect the display or the phone’s working in any way) as they say this invalidates the warranty. I’ve said that I don’t want the screen fixed, but rather the fault with their handset, namely the charging port. Their response is that procedure dictates I pay approx. £100 for a new screen before they even touch the charge port (which may not even be fixable).

To pick up on the car metaphor above, it seems a bit like trying to get your car’s engine fixed, but being told that a scratch on the bonnet invalidates the warranty.

Seems like a bit of a con to me, an effort to maximise profits rather than deliver a service.

Any advice would be much appreciated!

Hayley cartwright says:
27 February 2014

Well I wish I read these reports before getting my samsung s3 mini on contract!!
I signed to have a 24 month contract with O2 17 days ago, I woke up this morning and as I was sitting texting on my phone a crack appeared in the middle of the screen.. A perfect straight line from left to right. I have NOT dropped my phone or sat on it, bashed it or damaged it in anyway. I went into the O2 store today and an assistant basically called me a liar and said I must have done something to it, she told me that I need to claim on my insurance and will have to pay. I rang my insurance and explained what has happened and the lady on the phone actually told me I don’t have to put a claim through if I believe this is a faulty product. She actually said ‘go back to the store and demand to see the store manager and explain the screen has been poor since day one’ which I intend to do but surmise surprise I cannot get through to the store. Have you got any advice for me please? I’m worried they are going to fob me off when this problem must be a fault! I’m a very honest person and if I had dropped it I would pay as it would be my own fault but I find it disgusting that they are calling me a liar. Thank you

I purchased 2 samsung edge 6 phones Oct 27th, I noticed that one of the phones was getting very hot when being used and when being charged, at the end of Nov I noticed a hair line crack going right across the centre of the screen the phone was not drop or anything – contacted EE they said I was outside the 30 day period and that the warranty doesn’t cover cracked screens and that I would have to pay for a repair. The next day yet another crack appeared again the phone had not been dropped in anyway. I contacted EE again and told them that there is clearly a fault with the phone and that I wanted the phone checked for overheating and causing the screen to crack as that is the only explanation as the phone has not been dropped, they sent the phone off and 14 days later I get a call asking me to pay £153.95 to repair the screen and that there was no fault with the phone – I asked them if the engineer checked for the phone overheating and I was told that the phone hasn’t been checked for a fault just to have the screen repaired. EE are saying they need to repair the screen before they can check for any faults to the phone and they want me to pay to repair the screen upfront, so why was I told there was no fault with the phone if the phone hasn’t been checked (someones telling porkies) Why should I pay for something that I have not damaged? Why repair a phone that potencially has a fault? I have told EE they should be repairing and testing the phone as it is not fit for purpose and if it found that there is no fault with the phone then I will pay for the screen to be repaired but I want to see the engineers report. I don’t think that I am being ureasonable. EE tried to fob me off and told me to contact samsung direct etc – EE customer services is terrible surely if they can check a phone to see if it overheating without having to repair the screen first or am I missing something? Anyone else having problems like this?

Bob says:
11 July 2017

Galaxy a3 2017.
Glass back spontaneously cracked.
Less than 2 months into 24 month contract

This comment was removed at the request of the user