A warranty is a manufacturer’s guarantee to repair your kit if something goes wrong. Some restrictions apply – so it’s important to know what is and isn’t covered under the warranty, and how long it lasts for.
Most phones and tablets are covered by a one or two year manufacturer's warranty. This applies to the kit itself, but the battery and any accessories like headphones and chargers might have a much shorter warranty period - often two months or less. This is because their expected life might change depending on how and where they're used.
The warranty is there to repair manufacturing faults. If your kit 'stops working', or doesn't work properly, then you can take it back to the retailer for them to fix under the warranty. Signs of physical damage might void the warranty, so keeping it in a protective case will help keep it safe.
It's also worth remembering that most manufacturer's warranties apply only to the original purchaser and are not transferrable. A proof of purchase is usually required to get warranty service.
Here are some of the common hardware problems that can stop your kit being covered by a manufacturer warranty.
"I dropped/smashed my device"
Your warranty won't cover you for accidental damage. This includes any damage to the screen or phone in general from it being dropped or knocked against anything.
Cosmetic wear and tear is also not covered – so if you keep the phone in your pocket or bag with keys or change, you may want to consider getting a case or cover for extra protection.
If your phone's screen does get broken or cracked, then it's not completely useless. If you get your screen replaced by an accredited repairer, any remaining warranty will still be valid should you need a repair later on. Or, you can make some money back from a damaged phone by trading it in, even if the screen is completely smashed.
"My phone/tablet got wet"
Any kind of water, liquid or moisture damage will void your warranty – even if your kit was still working after the exposure occurred.
This is because moisture damage is not always immediate, and can take months to affect your kit. Most devices these days have a moisture indicator inside them that lets the manufacturer check for water damage.
With kit with a removable back cover, you can sometimes see these yourself: they look like small white stickers on and around the battery. If these turn pink, it means your phone has come into contact with moisture – and your warranty is void.
"My phone won't turn on!"
Don’t panic. Most of the time when your phone won't turn on, it's because it's simply crashed rather than being damaged. There are a few steps you can take to try to get your phone working, so try these first:
If there's still no response from the phone, it normally means something has gone wrong with its internal systems – and it will need to be replaced or repaired. As long as there are no signs of physical damage to the device or its screen, this fault is normally covered under your warranty.
"I want to modify my phone"
A lot of companies offer custom modifications to your phone, like new outer casings or screens.
Unlike a standard protective case, custom modifications actually change or replace the outer parts of your phone. Don't try this if you want to keep your warranty, though.
Inside your device are tamper-evident labels that will break or tear when your phone is opened up – and once these are broken, the warranty is void.
Sometimes these prevent your kit being taken apart entirely, and some allow minor changes like battery or screen replacement. Fitting a new case yourself or getting it done by a third party will almost certainly break these seals, and void the warranty.
"Does unlocking the phone to use it on a different network void my warranty?"
This all depends on how the device is unlocked, and by who.
If you bought your kit from Carphone Warehouse, it's likely to be already unlocked - unless it's an iPhone. If it came directly from a network then it will almost certainly be locked to that network.
The best way to unlock your device and maintain the warranty would be to contact the network and ask for an unlock code. This is 'official' and maintains your warranty – but you should definitely double-check that with your network first.
Having your phone unlocked by an unofficial retailer, like a market stall or independent local shop, will often violate the warranty terms and leave you without any warranty cover.
"My device keeps crashing!"
This can sometimes be caused by faulty software on the device, and can usually be solved by resetting or updating your phone's software.
A phone with corrupt software is normally covered under the manufacturer's warranty and can usually be repaired by a service centre reinstalling the phone's operating system – so there shouldn't be any costs.
"Does jailbreaking my iPhone void the warranty?"
Yes. Apple view jailbreaking as a modification of the iPhone Operating System, which is a violation of the iOS end-user software licence agreement.
If there's a hardware fault and your kit is jailbroken, it wouldn't be covered, as your warranty would be voided.
"Does rooting my Android phone void the warranty?"
Most Android manufacturers prohibit any form of rooting, and installation of custom firmware (normally referred to as ROMs). will void the warranty.
Custom ROMs can bring new or exciting features to your kit, but they also open the phone up to possible security risks and you can never be 100% certain of their reliability.
If your device has been rooted or had new firmware added, then neither the retailer or the most manufacturer will cover it under warranty.