Sony phones have no warranty

A Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review

Finding a reasonably sized mobile phone is really hard nowadays. All the manufacturers seem to be producing huge phones with 5" displays or so. The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact has a 4.3" display. In my opinion that's hardly compact, but everything is relative. At least it's smaller than 5".

The reason I bought the phone was simple. As could be figured from the specifications, the phone's camera is good, and replaces a separate cheap digital compact one. Video quality is excellent as long as your camera software supports turning off the annoying continuous focus feature. The phone is waterproof, so you can easily wash it. Also, in the end the size isn't that big even though a tad smaller would be perfect for me.

But that's pretty much where the good things end. Sound quality is mediocre. The speaker is terrible. My five-year-old Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini has the best speaker I've ever heard in a phone, so at least at some point they did know how to make speakers. The Z1C speaker is just bad, with distortion and low volume - you hardly can hear an alarm through earplugs even right next to your pillow. The display is not that responsive to my fingers, the ergonomics are bad and the phone is extremely prone to small scratches due to it's flat design and materials.

The worst feature, however, is the self-cracking display. I was at the gym and between sets, chatting with my friends with my phone. While I took a shower my phone was in a locker, which was locked. After the shower I tried to continue chatting, only to realize the display was not receiving any input anymore. Looking at the screen from an angle, I could see a couple of cracks in the middle of the display. My phone's screen had cracked by itself.

After a month of fighting, a visit to the service shop, at least five visits to the retailer (I lost count somewhere) and a dozen or so phone calls to Sony and to the retailer, I received a negative response from Sony to my claim to fix or replace the phone. Also, according to a phone call I had with Sony's customer service, they do not necessarily even bother to read the customer's claim when doing decisions. The phone's screen has no sign of external impact, but that didn't stop Sony from avoiding their responsibility to respect their warranty. Apparently a screen defect automatically counts as external impact, and there's no way around it. In principle, Sony and its service shops could (and probably would) claim external damage to be the reason behind any problem, therefore relieving Sony of their warranty responsibility. Thus the title of this article.

As of now, my phone's final resting place seems to be the retailer's warehouse. Thanks Sony and SCF Huolto, if I had known my phone comes with no warranty, it would've been a couple of weeks waiting for the 60 € display part from eBay and then changing it myself in an hour. Instead, this incident cost me a month and my expensive phone. If I ever get my phone back, I will post pictures of it as a proof that there are absolutely no signs of external impact whatsoever, the phone's display looks mint when viewed directly. The small cracks are only visible from a steep angle. Why wouldn't I receive my phone back, then? Because I won't pay a cent to get my broken phone back from the service/retailer after all this trouble.

In conclusion, the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact has a nice camera and it's waterproof, but otherwise it's quite a letdown. Also, whatever phone you decide to buy, avoid these three companies:

  • Sony Mobile Communications Inc. (the manufacturer)
    • Customer service is really bad. Obsolete phone numbers, service in random language, etc.
    • "Don't worry, we will use Google Translate to read the service's description": a phrase a customer servant told me when I called Sony about my claim. My claim was in Finnish, as was the service's description. Therefore, it seems that in some cases they don't even bother listening to the customer or reading what he has to say.
    • Devices break up and warranty doesn't cover anything.
  • Gigantti Oy Ab (the retailer)
    • Customer service doesn't know who to contact, how and when.
    • Their internal systems are abysmal, people in the retail store have no idea what people at the telephone customer service center have said or done, or vice versa. Customer receives no information about a service's status.
    • One redeeming quality: a single helpful retail store customer servant with whose help I was finally able to even make the claim to Sony after hours and hours of running around. Thank you, Ilpo.
  • SCF Huolto Oy (the service)
    • The company that could've changed it all by just looking at the phone a bit closer, but it didn't. Someone at the service slipped the words "external impact" in their case description without any proof to back it up. Eventually this turned out to be the final nail in my phone's coffin.
    • Customer service has no idea who to contact or how. They are also unable to contact the customer after they've typoed his phone number, even when an email address is available. No apologies either for their (lack of) actions and incompetence, of course. It's so bad it's just sad.
    • Customer service also lies right to your face. I received a (not even a blind) carbon copy of a message from the retailer to the service. Somehow they had received a different message, or at least so it seemed until I told them I also received the message and could tell them they are lying.

These companies not only screw you, they make it feel like a DP (or TP in this case). Not that I'd know, but I can imagine.

2015-09-12 update

I received the photos the service took of the phone. Here they are, in their original size.


In the first picture one can see the numerous tiny scratches on the surface of the phone. As I bought the phone second hand ten months ago, I was a bit disappointed to see the previous owner having scratched the surface so badly, but in the end, they are just tiny scratches. The one bigger scratch might actually be one of the cracks in the display, but I'm not sure. In the second picture is an out-of-focus intact phone with an in-focus tape roll. In the third picture are again some small scratches from the previous owner, and in the final picture again, an intact phone.

Now remember the phone had two cracks in the middle of the display. Those can be seen nowhere in the pictures - they didn't bother taking a picture of the damage itself. Neither are there any hit marks. Still, from those pictures a Sony representative was able to conclude that the phone "was bent" (although the service told them it had received an impact). I wonder if they really think so and haven't seen a lens distortion before?

Also, nowhere in the warranty documentation it says that if a display has two or more cracks, it's not under warranty. If my display had had just one crack instead of two, it would have been under warranty, or so the service told me. Sony kept on posting me their warranty documents, even though I referred to the very same documents in my original claim. Therefore, not only are they dumb enough at Sony to be incapable of interpreting a picture of a real life object, they are also illiterate.

I also finally received a text message that my broken phone is at the retailer and retrievable against a 40 € service fee. That took the service four and a half weeks instead of the promised two, which itself would be a good enough reason to give me my phone back for free - if they gave a damn about the customer, that is.

In case someone at the troublesome companies would like to see the case, here are the reference numbers:

  • Sony Claim: RCS270394
  • Sony Service Request: 1-21202070022
  • SCF Huolto: SLO155365501
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Creative Commons License  This article by Olli Helin is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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