Unlocked vs carrier branded warranty experience

markwest1

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Aug 18, 2014
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I will be looking to replace my G3 with either a G5 or S7 (leaning towards S7 edge), and would like some input on unlocked vs carrier branded device. While it seems that a lot of folks prefer an unlocked phone, I'm concerned about potential issues with warranty service. When I had an issue with my T-Mobile branded phone, the provider overnighted me a new replacement unit and provided a prepaid label to ship back the defective unit. In contrast, one of my friends bought an unlocked version of the same phone and when his screen went bad, he had to first send in his defective unit to the manufacturer (LG) and waited around 3 weeks to receive a replacement. Is this a valid concern? I'm not planning on swithcing carriers (sticking with T-Mobile) and will be buying the phone for full price. Thoughts? Any other pros and cons?
 

SpookDroid

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Jul 14, 2011
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The problem is that you're not dealing with Warranty per-se with T-Mobile. You get a period of time where, should the device fail, the retailer handles the return (varies by retailer, and your mileage might vary from location to location). After that, for most of T-Mobile phones (unless you bought it outright), you're actually dealing with the INSURANCE of the phone, and why they can send you an unit from their inventory right away. Even some manufacturers are implementing an Insurance program of sorts, like HTC's Uh-Oh screen replacement program. If the phone had to be replaced by the manufacturer's warranty, even if handled by the carrier, this would take longer.

When dealing with Warranty from the manufacturer, you do have to take into account if the manufacturer has repair centers where you live, if you have to send it in elsewhere, and it usually takes longer. Some manufacturers, however, do have premium service options that allow you to get a replacement first,and then send in your device (Moto does this for a fee).
 

markwest1

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Thanks SpookDroid, however I never purchased any extra insurance from T-Mobile. When I had an issue with the phone, I initiated the replacement directly through T-Mobile, not the store.
 

raino

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I don't know about manufacturer warranty replacements, but carriers' warranty providers don't actually promise you an exact replacement, but a "comparable" one. And this is where issues can arise--it depends on inventory. If they don't have the exact phone you're looking to get replaced, they will send you something they deem as comparable, which may actually be a downgrade.
 

SpookDroid

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Most manufacturer warranties do something similar with refubrished units. If the model in question is out of production, then they'll upgrade you to their next comparable device (i.e. if you sent in an S4 two years in, you'd get an S5 if you're lucky enough and they're out of stock). I believe carriers do the same thing (sending refubrished units when replacing phones, which is why you should test out your devices right away if you bought them at launch because if something goes wrong, you have better chances of getting a new one rather than a refurb).
 

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