Are High Return Rates Spoiling Android’s Strong Sales?


Over the past two year’s Android has rocketed from holding virtually no market share to leading smartphone platforms the world over in terms of handsets shipped, beating out the likes of Apple and RIM. It has been shown in countless statistic after countless statistic, and surveys and projections don’t show Google’s green monster slowing down anytime soon. But are consumers ultimately not satisfied with the Android product? According to sources speaking to TechCrunch, the answer in some cases is yes at a rate of 30 to 40 percent. Emphasis on some cases.

Yes, the iPhone carries a very satisfactory return rate of around 1.7 percent. Yes, we can believe that some Android handsets are getting returned at a rate nearing 50 percent, but not Android handsets as a whole. The truth is, Apple makes one phone, allowing the company greater quality control over their hardware and user experience. Google licenses Android to handset manufacturers, and some don’t even go so far as to even get official support from the company behind the platform. Half-baked user interfaces built on top of some Android handsets might rightfully detract from a user’s view of their new handset. Still, if we could get some hard numbers we’d be willing to bet that handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S II (which sold 3 million units in 55 days), HTC EVO 3D, and others of that caliber would sport return rates much lower than 30 to 40 percent (it’s true that at one point the Motorola Droid 2 held the lowest return rate of all handsets in Verizon’s lineup).

So take the reported numbers as you will, but we suspect that the supposedly high rate of return on a small portion of devices won’t greatly affect Android’s global figures. We’re just not buying it.

[via TechCrunch]

Kevin Krause
Pretty soon you'll know a lot about Kevin because his biography will actually be filled in!

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  1. I say that TC article is bullshit and FUD.

    No sources, no models, no numbers, nothing

    1. The editor gets flamed in the comments section, hard. Now, I wonder why Phandroid would repost this FUD.

  2. The return rate may be higher because i know quite a few people who will buy a phone and then take it back on the last day. And typically the reason they do it is because they were actually holding out for the next big device to be released on their carrier.

    That explains why a popular device like the Evo3D would have a much lower return rate.

    1. That is exactly what I did last year. Bought the HTC Aria and returned it as soon as the Samsung Captivate came out. Can anyone blame me? And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one!

    2. That, and the clowns who think it’s ok to brick their devices flashing “custom” firmware and then take it back to the carrier/store and say “It just stopped working!”.

      Besides hurting profits, returning a self-bricked device to the store also hurts the community, in the form of more and more locked bootloaders.

  3. Dun care about whether others are satisfied, if they don’t like it, probably because it is too “complicated” then go buy an iPhone….I will still be happy when the nexus 3 lands in my hands

  4. …in any case I suspect most of returns come from the crappy batteries they use.
    In my case it is very hard (impossible) to make it to one full day unless you beggin switching off, diconnecting turning down all the potential of the phone I have (HTC Sensation) .
    It’s like having a Ferrari which will not make more than 10 km unless you switch off even the radio nd do not run over 100 km / hour
    Bateries….. give me a huge one with at least a full day of full use and I will be happy

    1. Buy something not designed by HTC. :)

      Ok, I kid, but seriously, they do seriously under-spec their batteries.

  5. I returned a Samsung Infuse due to poor battery life, but picked up a Motorola Atrix, which is doing great – especially since the Gingerbread update this weekend. I can now go a full day of decent use and have 25-30% power left at night. That is without using Juice Defender, which was a *requirement* with the Infuse (and I still often ran out of juice by 8pm with the same usage patterns).

  6. BINGO, B2L. there are a LOT of users that ‘game the system’. trying out the latest, then returning it for something else 2 to 4 weeks later.

  7. I would bet that almost all VZW android phones right now fall into this category. I am an OD owner and would not trade it in for anything they have released since Nov 2008. The Droid is a rock solid phone as long as it doesn’t get wet.

  8. It is no mystery that almost all of these phones are riddled with annoying bugs and the carriers are usually very slow to send out fixes for these.

    I’ve said before, the debug process these phones go through is a joke. Take the X for an example. It is JUST NOW at the point it should have been when the phone was released.

    Its like everything else. No one gives a shit cause people will buy it anyway.

    1. The last line in your comment hit the nail on the head perfectly.

      1. This makes me angry on almost a daily basis. You wanna OWN the market with something? Put out a polished product that has had the ever living hell tested out of it. And for God’s sake, put the thing in end users hands for real world testing.

        I do a lot of testing here at work and I know how to emulate the stupid things end users will do that will create major bugs.

  9. I bet none of those who just started new with iOS would admit to their friends that they aren’t that smart enough to get a hold of all features. On the other hand, bashing Android and saying I returned it ‘cuz iPhone is better will win them some fake respect.

  10. I can totally believe this, especially on AT&T. A ton of people who used to have iPhone walk into the store and are wooed to buy the latest and greatest that Android has to offer. A lot end up returning it because it’s so different from iPhone, none of their apps that they paid out the ass for, and it takes them out of their little sandbox comfort zone and actually requires a modicum of know how to operate.

  11. I wish you guys wouldn’t constantly be such apologists. You don’t need to deliver news that’s negative to Android and then say “but hey look, it’s ok! Because it’s not that bad, if you look at it like this…”. You’re meant to be a news site, not an apologist. Just give us the news.

  12. I’d like to know the IQ of folks doing the returns and how much research they actually did before picking out a particular device. I think these smartphones are too smart for a good chunk of the population.

  13. It makes one wonder if this accounts for “like for like” exchanges. For instance, my Charge took a crap within the 14 day activation period. I exchanged it for a new one. Does that count as a “return”?

    Useless numbers are just that. Useless. Let’s see some REAL figures that substantiate this near 50% return rate.

  14. It hurts but I believe it. I know people who are satisfied. I am because I tinker and fix issues and know how to Google to solve problems. Your average user isn’t as savy and when something basic doesn’t work like A2DP (really it’s shit on android thanks to bluez) or you have a WiFi antenna that constantly disconnects and has to be enabled/disabled. I can see the frustration. I’m right there with these people I just have employed techniques to fix these issues myself.

  15. I’m not surprised. Not at all. Look at how many choices of phones with Android you have. How many folks try one phone and then return it for another. I bet this happens alot when a new phone drops shortly after people have bought theirs.

    Unless they can show some numbers on why people returned the phones I have to believe its because of this reason. Otherwise somebody would be complaining about eating the return costs of these phones. But again even if they are dissatisfied look at the stats. The only mobile OS growing is Android so again they must be returning them for other Android devices. It could be low end phones being returned for high end once people realize its not their friends Evo or Galaxy S.

    And the iPhone is one phone. If you want iOS then you have nothing to return it for.

    1. Stating the fact that Apple offers no choice to their customers vs the fact that Android is all about having multiple choices, how is that hypocrisy? It’s not our fault that an Android vs iOS phone comparison will end up with more devices on the Android side, it’s a choice Apple made to have a closed-off echosystem. It’s the same as comparing Windows to MacOS.

      1. In typical iTroll fashion, you miss the point and come back with the same non-argument. When comparing marketshare we do compare all Android smartphones against all iOS smartphones. There just happen to be more on one side. And when some vague unnamed source claims that “in some cases” there have been returns in the order of 30%-40% we know better than to assume that it applies to all Android devices.

  16. Kevin, why are you propagating this lie? Those “some cases” may very well be some extreme outliers. The TC article doesn’t show ANY proof that this is happening with ANY phone – and yet they make people believe as if most Android phones have such a return rate.

    I know you sort of try to debunk this in the article, but your headline alone misleads people into thinking that this “rumor” is true. I assume like 80% of your readers probably just scanned the head-line on the home-page and then assumed the answer is YES – because the question is put in such a way. So basically whether willingly or not you’re helping propagate a LIE, or at the very least an extremely misleading rumor.

  17. … this is typical apple social media marketing, ugly but effective … android should be the opposite, warm and cool

  18. A friend got an apple iPhone from Verizon. On that phone only, there was $35 return charge. I’m not sure if that is still Verizon’s policy, but I guarantee that was not taken into account.
    She eventually returned it within the 30 days, paid the $35 and the got an EVO something from Sprint

  19. How many of the returns are due to dumb users who can’t figure a phone out and then blames the phone and returns it? I’ve dealt with several people who just weren’t qualified to use a pager, much less a smartphone.

  20. I got the Evo4g in april and within my 30 day return window the Nexus S 4g came out. So I returned my android only to get another android. I would imagine this is what alot of people returned theirs for.

  21. As much as I love Android, i always laugh when i read “, Apple makes one phone, allowing the company greater quality control over their hardware and user experience. Google licenses Android to handset manufacturers, and some don’t even go so far as to even get official support from the company behind the platform. Half-baked user interfaces built on top of some Android handsets might rightfully detract from a user’s view of their new handset”. Idk to me it just sounds like an excuse.

  22. Hahaha I just read the article. “Some phones’ return rates are 30-40%.” I 100% believe that some android phones are returned at a 40% rate. Perhaps the Backflip. Maybe the Cliq. Among other out of date, low-end phones.

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