Consumer NZ launches mobile phone repairability score

Consumer NZ launches mobile phone repairability score

Samsung Galaxy A12 leads while Apple's iPhone XR lags in first scores

Credit: Rob O'Neill

Consumer NZ is adopting the French government’s repairability index to score mobile phones and help consumers choose products that can be easily fixed.

In France, mobile phones, front-loading washing machines, electric lawnmowers, laptops and TVs are scored out of 10, and the score must be displayed next to the price in stores and online.

Consumer NZ is starting with scores for a limited range of mobile phones, as not all manufacturers have provided this information.

Each score is calculated from five criteria: whether repair documentation is available to independent repairers and/or consumers, how easy it is to disassemble the product, the availability of spare parts, price of spare parts and any other criteria specific to the product type.

Every year tens of thousands of electronic devices are discarded in New Zealand, and a lot of those end up in landfill," said Consumer NZ product test manager Paul Smith.

The new index will help consumers understand whether a product will "go the distance". 

“Mobile phones are an essential part of many New Zealanders’ lives, but we’re currently very much at the mercy of manufacturers," Smith said.

"Basic maintenance, such as replacing a battery, has become almost prohibitively difficult, with manufacturers preferring to keep the inner workings secret from independent repairers.”

The index relies on manufacturers scoring their own products but rival companies and consumers should quickly call out any business that posts an inflated score, Consumer NZ said.

In France, manufacturers who don’t provide scores will be fined from next year.

The Samsung Galaxy A12 scored the highest with 8.2, while the iPhone XR scored 4.5, the lowest rating. Huawei and Oppo are yet to provide scores.

Consumer NZ is seeing some improvements in repairability.

"While the Apple iPhone 12 series doesn’t have class-leading repairability, it’s a vast improvement from the iPhone 11, due to a simpler dismantling process and cheaper spare parts,” Smith said.

In March, Apple announced it would begin supplying iPhone parts and guides to independent Kiwi repairers who have completed a free certification process. 

Samsung Galaxy phones released in the past six months score much better than previous models, due to Samsung now making spare parts easier to find, Smith said.

Repairability scores can be found on Consumer NZ's phone product pages.

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