10 Findings from J.D. Power Smartphone Satisfaction Report

10 Findings from J.D. Power Smartphone Satisfaction Report
Apple Is Tops, Sometimes
While Samsung Is Tops on Other Carrier Networks
HTC's Marks Are Disappointing
AT&T Is the Most Popular Carrier
T-Mobile Still Has Some Work to Do
Join a Full-Service Carrier's Network
Here's Why Customers Choose Non-Contract Carriers
Smartphone Costs Are on the Rise
Are Smartphone Owners Loyal?
The Next Big Feature: Wireless Charging
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10 Findings from J.D. Power Smartphone Satisfaction Report

J.D. Power surveys 12,000 smartphone owners to find out which smartphone makers and wireless carriers are winning and which ones are struggling.

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Apple Is Tops, Sometimes

J.D. Power broke out its smartphone-satisfaction data by carrier. The company found that Apple's iPhone ranked highest in customer satisfaction on T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless networks, earning a score of 843 and 834, respectively, out of a possible 1,000. Apple was also most popular on non-contract carrier networks, such as Cricket Wireless and Boost.

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While Samsung Is Tops on Other Carrier Networks

Where Apple doesn't win, Samsung reigns supreme. The company scored highest on AT&T and Sprint networks, scoring 842 and 834, respectively. Apple placed second on those networks, and Samsung captured the second slot on T-Mobile and Verizon. J.D. Power didn't say which Samsung smartphones were evaluated in the study.

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HTC's Marks Are Disappointing

HTC had a rough time with customers this year, according to J.D. Power's data. On Verizon and Sprint, HTC was named the worst brand, scoring 789 and 781, respectively. On T-Mobile, HTC was able to boost its score to 803, and on AT&T its score was 814, but was still behind the carrier averages and well below Apple and Samsung. That won't help HTC sell more smartphones.

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AT&T Is the Most Popular Carrier

In addition to hardware makers, J.D. Power evaluated carrier customer satisfaction. While satisfaction rates aren't all that high, the company found customers are most satisfied with AT&T, which earned a score of 832 in the survey. Verizon Wireless was next, with a score of 825.

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T-Mobile Still Has Some Work to Do

While the two largest carriers in the United States performed well in the J.D. Power study, smaller carriers need to catch up. According to J.D. Power, Sprint scored 824 in the study and was followed by T-Mobile at 821. While at first blush the difference between AT&T's 832 and T-Mobile's 821 doesn't seem major, companies don't often see their scores grow more than a few points every year. That would mean T-Mobile, especially, has some work cut out for it if it wants to catch up to AT&T.

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Join a Full-Service Carrier's Network

J.D. Power's study clearly shows customers are far more satisfied with full-service carriers such as Verizon and AT&T than non-contract carriers such as MetroPCS. Overall, customer satisfaction with full-service carriers stands at an 8.3 out of 10. Non-contract carriers only muster an average of 7.86 on that scale. One of the reasons for that disparity is the availability of higher-powered smartphones on full-service carrier networks, according to J.D. Power.

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Here's Why Customers Choose Non-Contract Carriers

Although non-contract carriers aren't satisfying customers as well as their bigger counterparts, a growing number of people are still choosing their networks. In its study, J.D. Power found that 51 percent of non-contract customers are choosing plans and smartphones based on "price/cost." The average non-contract customer pays $137 for a smartphone, compared with $361 for full-service customers.

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Smartphone Costs Are on the Rise

Regardless of the carrier customers choose, they'll find their costs soaring. J.D. Power found the average smartphone price stands at $361, up from $318 earlier in 2016. In early 2015, the average customer paid $239 for a smartphone. J.D. Power says the jump is due to companies shifting away from offering smartphone subsidies.

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Are Smartphone Owners Loyal?

Brand loyalty helps companies keep customers coming back. However, just 35 percent of full-service customers say they "definitely will" stick with their current manufacturer. The figure is even lower on the non-contract side, with just 20 percent of customers saying they'll remain loyal to their current smartphone maker.

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The Next Big Feature: Wireless Charging

Wireless charging could prove to be a critical feature in the coming years, the study shows. In fact, 51 percent of full-service carrier customers and 49 percent of non-contract customers say that wireless charging is one of the top three features they'd like to see in their next smartphone. That could be bad news for Apple, which so far has shunned wireless charging.

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