For a sixth consecutive time, Apple ranked highest among manufacturers of smartphones in customer satisfaction, according to a report from JD Power and Associates. Apple achieves a score of 838 points (on a scale of 1,00 points) and performs well in all factors, particularly in ease of operation and features. HTC (801 points) follows Apple in the smartphone rankings. Satisfaction with both smartphones and traditional or "feature" phones is greatly impacted by the physical design and dimensions of the device, the report found.
Overall satisfaction with smartphones and traditional mobile phones is considerably higher for devices that are a specific size and weight and are equipped with the latest technological advancements, such as high-quality display screens, faster processing speeds, longer battery life and touch screen capabilities. For example, satisfaction ratings are highest (8.1 on a 10-point scale) when the weight of the smartphone device does not exceed 5 ounces.
In order of importance, the key factors of overall satisfaction with traditional wireless handsets are performance (31 percent), ease of operation (24 percent), physical design (24 percent), and features (20 percent). For smartphones, the key factors are performance (35 percent), ease of operation (24 percent), features (21 percent) and physical design (20 percent). Samsung ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction with traditional handsets with a score of 718, the report fond. The company performed well in three factors-- performance, ease of operation and features.
In addition, faster processing speeds, higher computer chip bit rates and the most advanced display screens (such as Super AMOLED vs. older LCD-based screens) all add significantly to user satisfaction. Even the number of megapixels found in camera-enabled mobile devices influences the ownership experience. In general, the higher the number of megapixels, the higher the satisfaction with camera picture and video quality. However, devices with at least 5 megapixels achieve nearly as high a satisfaction score as those smartphones with 8 megapixels or more.
"It's not unexpected that satisfaction is higher for devices that have new technological advances or features," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "Having the right combination of physical dimensions and operating functions and features for both smartphones and traditionally equipped devices is key to creating an exceptional ownership experience with each type of wireless device."
The study also found the price of a traditional wireless mobile phone continues to decline and averages $71 in 2011, compared with an average of $81 at the beginning of 2009. The decline is primarily due to discounts provided by handset providers and wireless service carriers to incentivize sales. Currently, 42 percent of owners report having received a free mobile phone when subscribing to a wireless service.
The report also found mobile applications continue to enhance the smartphone user experience. More than two-thirds of owners say they have downloaded games and social networking applications to their device and more than one-half (54 percent) said they have downloaded entertainment-oriented applications, while 52 percent indicate having downloaded travel software, such as maps and weather applications. "This indicates that smartphone owners are continuing to integrate their device usage into both their business and personal lives," the study noted.
The JD Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study-Volume 2 and the 2011 U.S. Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction Study-Volume 2 were based on experiences reported by 6,898 smartphone owners and 8,775 traditional mobile phone owners. Both studies were fielded between January and June 2011.