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Allstate Protection Plans Finds 78 Million Americans Damaged Their Smartphones in the Last Year. The Nation’s Repair and Replacement Bill Now Totals $149 Billion Since the Introduction of the Smartphone

Smartphone use, cost of repairs, frequency of damage, and concerns around the environmental impact of replacements are all on the rise, according to new research.

SAN FRANCISCO – Thursday March 14, 2024

From listening to music to watching movies, connecting with family to counting steps, we depend on our smartphones like never before, according to new research by Allstate Protection Plans. Yet, there are real misconceptions about the cost of smartphone ownership when it comes to damage and repairs. In its latest Mobile Mythconceptions Surveys1, Allstate Protection Plans found that 49% of American smartphone owners report spending more time on their phones than a year ago, and that the amount of money they spent on screen repairs surged to $8.3 billion in 2023, nearly tripling the amount spent in 2018 ($3.4 billion). It also found that 27% of American smartphone owners say they would initiate screen repairs within a day due to the importance of their phones in everyday life. 

In its third Mobile Mythconceptions study, Allstate Protection Plans also looked at the common causes of smartphone damage and their costs, along with consumer attitudes toward repairing, replacing, and recycling their phones over time. It found that while the use of smartphones is on the rise, the frequency of damage saw a slight decrease from previous years. In the past 12 months, 78 million Americans reported damaging a device compared to 87 million during a comparable period in 2020. However, consumer concerns about the environmental impact of repairing or replacing a device have increased over the same time period, with 53% of smartphone owners saying that is important to them, compared to 37% of Americans in 2020.

Other survey findings include: 

Smartphone Central – The Hub of Everything
Our smartphones have taken center stage, with 45% of smartphone owners spending five or more hours a day glued to their screens. 82% of smartphone owners claim their phone has replaced their digital camera, with 39% taking six or more photos per day and 31% capturing more than six videos per day. Over half (54%) of smartphone owners report watching more videos, TV shows, and movies on their phones than on TV.    

Smartphone Accidents & Malfunctions: More Common Than Theft   
While 31% of smartphone owners report having damaged a smartphone in the past year, only 8% permanently lost their device, and 5% had them stolen. When it comes to the most common types of damage, liquid was once a frontrunner. However, as smartphone water resistance has improved, liquid damage continues to slide down the list. Last year, the most frequent accidents and malfunctions as reported, were: Damaged screens (67%), Wi-Fi or connectivity issues (28%), Touchscreen problems (24%), Loose or damaged charging port (22%), Water damage (21%), Battery not working properly (21%), Chipped corner/sides (20%), Speaker issues (17%), Dented corner/sides (15%), Camera(s) not working properly (14%), and Microphone(s) not working properly (11%).

The Race to Replace, Repair and Recycle   
American smartphone owners don’t delay when dealing with smartphone damage. When it comes to broken buttons, 36% say they would wait a day or less to repair their phone, 30% for damaged speakers, 29% for broken microphones, 27% for cracked screens, and 22% for broken cameras. When it comes to recycling old or broken smartphones, 46% of smartphone owners believe they know how to do it, but only 27% have actually done so. 

Thirty-eight percent of respondents who damaged their smartphones replaced their device, while 32% chose to continue using it despite the damage. Others took their devices to repair shops (23%) or attempted DIY fixes (17%).

Cost Conscious Consumers  
Repair costs remain a significant concern for consumers. Almost half (49%) of Americans would not repair a damaged smartphone that still functions due to the high costs involved. The surveys found the average cost for repairs and replacements is now $302, yet 47% of Americans think repairs cost $150 or less. The nation’s repair expenses have soared, with America collectively spending $149 billion on smartphone repairs and replacements since the introduction of the smartphone. The top reason given by respondents who have damaged a smartphone for avoiding or delaying repairs was the cost, with 39% saying they could not afford it, 21% reporting time away from their phone as a concern, 15% preferring to wait for an upgrade, and 12% listing sustainability concerns.    

Climate Concerns  
Sustainability and environmental impact have gained considerable importance among smartphone owners. Over half of smartphone owners (51%) consider the environmental impact of their devices crucial, and they are more likely to choose brands that implement sustainability initiatives. Key sustainability factors increasing smartphone owners’ likelihood to buy from a smartphone manufacturer include the use of recycled ocean plastics (36%), recycled glass (35%), recycled packaging (35%), carbon emissions offsets (31%), manufacturer commitments to emissions reduction (31%), and the exclusion of chargers (24%) and headphones (23%) from new devices.

When disposing of their devices, American smartphone owners exhibit varying behaviors, with 40% keeping them as backups, 35% trading them in, 27% recycling them, 22% giving them to friends or family, 19% selling them, and 14% discarding them. With sustainability in mind, 38% of American smartphone owners express a likelihood of purchasing refurbished devices, with 35% of those interested in refurbished devices due to their desire to contribute to a more sustainable future.

For information on how to keep smartphones safe and avoid hefty out-of-pocket repair costs with a protection plan, visit

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