Help us understand why smartphones break with MobiFix (European edition)

This quest is complete :tada:

Read the results and download the data here:

Broken smartphones are some of the most common devices seen at community repair events. In fact, they’re the 3rd most common device recorded in the Fixometer.

But why do smartphones break so often?

Many of you will remember MobiFix :whale:, a data quest we ran last year to examine smartphone repairs recorded in the Fixometer and categorise the fault with each device. That quest allowed us to group smartphone repairs by fault and helped us learn just how common certain faults are compared to others.

:phone: The most common point of failure we see with smartphones is the screen, with repairers reporting a screen issue for over 40% of the broken smartphones recorded in the Fixometer.

Well, now MobiFix’s globe-trotting cousin has arrived: MobiFix: ORA Edition!

MobiFix: ORA Edition aims to investigate the same question, but this time it uses data from across the Open Repair Alliance and draws data from our friends at the Repair Café Foundation (:netherlands:/:earth_africa:) and Anstiftung (:de:).

You can help investigate this new data and build a more complete picture of which smartphone faults are the most common by joining this new quest:

Join the quest :female_detective:

:translate: Most of the records are in Dutch or German but we’ve provided a rough English translation underneath each description. If the translation doesn’t make much sense, simply press the ‘translate’ button to see a better translation in Google Translate. Alternatively, you can use a non-Google tool like DeepL for high-quality translation.

What is this?

Around the world, volunteers collect data about devices that are brought into community repair events. The data is uploaded to one of the tools run by members of the Open Repair Alliance (such as our very own Fixometer, Repair Café International’s Repair Monitor and so on. The combined data is also shared as open data.

:r2r: To enable community repair to contribute to upcoming policy discussions on the Right to Repair for smartphones, we want to see what types of faults are commonly encountered.

So we’d like to analyse the data collected so far, to learn about key faults seen at repair events - and this is where you can help!

MobiFix: ORA edition

MobiFix: ORA edition is a web app that collects opinions from the Restarters community and the general public about the type of faults in smartphones brought to community events such as Restart Parties and Repair Cafés.

What do I do?

MobiFix loads a single random record of a repair attempt that describes a faulty smartphone brought along to a community event. Here’s what you can do:

  • First, read the info about the device and the recorded problem.
  • Then, click/touch the main fault type you think it might be. You are presented with suggestions that we think it might be based on the text - but you can also select another fault type from the list below.
  • Once you’ve selected the fault type, then press ‘Go with [your fault type]’’ or the ‘G’ key.
  • If you are not sure what the fault type is, press the ‘ I don’t know, Fetch another repair ’ button or ‘ F ’ key to load another one.

That’s it! Keep going through as many as you like - we think it’s a really fun way to discover the data. Remember - every single fault you see is an item brought to a repair event and looked at by a fixer. :hammer_and_wrench:

Why mobiles?

All kinds of small electrical and electronic devices are brought to repair events. Right now we are focusing on repair data about smartphones because the EU is currently conducting a “preparatory study” leading to proposed ecodesign regulation on smartphones’ repairability. The data we collect at repair events is unique, as it tells the story of real people attempting to repair their products. Sorted through MobiFix, it will provide policymakers with useful information which currently can’t be accessed anywhere else.

Read more about why we collect repair data.


click here to see Frequently Asked Questions

:question: Do I need an account?

No - you don’t need to sign up to to play MobiFix:ORA. We’d love it if you did create an account though, and tell us what you think. You can then also get involved in events, data collection and discussions about community repair.

:question: What if there’s not enough info to decide on a fault type?

Sometimes it can be hard to choose a fault type because there is not a lot of information recorded. The data has come from a lively, sociable community repair event where volunteers are busy trying to fix things and don’t always have the time to write down a lot of the detail.

Don’t worry if you can’t decide - just press “I don’t know”. It is in fact very useful for us to know where we lack information as we are looking for ways to improve our data collection.

:question: What do you do with my answers?

They are pooled together to see if we can reach consensus on the problem we saw during a particular repair attempt. Once we have a good level of confidence in the faults, we can use this information to help complement existing knowledge on why things fail and what are the barriers to repair. This will feed into campaign work for the Right to Repair.

:question: This is cool! Any other stuff I can do?

Yes! The original MobiFix :whale:, FaultCat :cat: and MiscCat :smirk_cat:. There are also lots of other ways to get involved with our data work.

:question: What if I find something weird or have a suggestion?

Please share it in this discussion :slight_smile: :arrow_down: (you will need an account to do so)

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A huge thanks to everyone who has helped out with MobiFix (ORA edition) so far! We’ve made great progress and are close to completing this quest :tada:

Here’s a quick update:

The results so far

Together, we’ve fully examined the reports of 319 broken smartphones out of a total of 376. Of these, we’ve agreed on the main fault for 291 devices.

The 4 most common issues we’ve identified for these smartphones are:

:four: USB/charging port (24 devices)

:three: Help/configuration (31 devices)

:two: Power/battery (53 devices)

:one: Screen (69 devices)

:bar_chart: Explore the results as they come in here: MobiFixORA

But we’re not finished yet!

There are still around 50 devices that need more attention.

>> Can you help us complete this quest before Tuesday?

Join the quest :female_detective:


:checkered_flag: This quest is now complete! :tada:

A huge thank you to everyone who helped out - your contributions will help the whole community learn more about why smartphones break and help us build stronger evidence for effective pro-repair policies :hammer_and_wrench:

If you joined this quest, keep an eye out for a shiny digital badge coming your way :wink:

We’ve written up what we learned from this quest on behalf of the Open Repair Alliance. Read the results and download the data here: