Satisfaction studies can sound like broken records, with familiar leaders and positions that don't move. Not so with J.D. Power's first smartphone survey for 2013. While Apple maintained the top spot for the ninth time in a row through US customers' happiness with the hardware design and ease of use, most of its major competitors made big strides in reliability, speed and camera quality in the past half-year -- to the point where there was a virtual dead heat for second place between HTC, Motorola, Nokia and Samsung. They lifted the average by about 22 points and left only LG (which has few high-end US phones) and a pre-transition BlackBerry lagging behind. We wouldn't be surprised to see an improvement for those last two by the September study.
Whatever your platform preference, J.D. Power has found some shared experiences. Bugs are still a problem on phones when about 17 percent of those asked ran into some kind of glitch. However, it's clear that those who lean heavily on their smartphones tend to love them: survey takers who used social networking apps for 100-plus minutes a week were significantly more likely to recommend whatever they had. That might help explain a high conversion rate among basic phone owners, where three quarters of those planning to update their devices expected to move to a smartphone.
J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Customer Satisfaction with Feature-Rich Smartphones Increases as the Segment's Popularity Continues to Rise
Apple Ranks Highest in Customer Satisfaction among Smartphone Manufacturers, While LG Ranks Highest Among Traditional Mobile Phone Manufacturers
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 21 March 2013 -- Overall satisfaction among smartphone customers increases significantly as manufacturers continue to improve styling, feature sets, usability and software, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Satisfaction StudySM--Volume 1 and the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction StudySM--Volume 1, both released today.
* Nearly two in 10 (17%) smartphone customers experience a software or device malfunction.
* Smartphone customers spend an average of 115 minutes per week using social networking applications on their device.
* Smartphone customers spending more than 100 minutes per week on social apps are 14% more likely to recommend their smartphone model than those that spend 100 minutes or less on social apps.
The studies measure satisfaction with traditional wireless handsets and smartphones among customers who have used their current mobile device for less than one year. Satisfaction is measured in several key factors. In order of importance, the key factors of overall satisfaction with traditional mobile phones are performance (29%); ease of operation (26%); physical design (24%); and features (21%). For smartphones, the key factors are performance (33%); physical design (23%); features (22%); and ease of operation (22%).
The Wireless Smartphone Satisfaction Study finds that satisfaction among smartphone customers is 796 (on a 1,000-point scale), an increase of 22 points from 2012. This improvement is likely due to a growing array of new features and services being offered that are providing a seamless product experience between the operating system functions and third-party apps. While satisfaction in all factors of the smartphone customer experience increases from 2012, satisfaction has increased the most in performance (26 points), as a few key attributes, such as operating system reliability, processing speed and video/camera picture quality, have improved significantly.
"As the capabilities of wireless phones and their applications continue to expand, and as customers grow more reliant on their device, handset manufacturers have an opportunity to further shape the customer experience and impact satisfaction with better integration of services and more communication options, such as video chat," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of telecommunications services at J.D. Power and Associates. "It is important, however, that manufacturers meet the expectations of those customers who take advantage of such offers by ensuring the features are intuitive and, ultimately, rewarding to them. Providing an easy-to-use, yet powerful operating system with the ability to customize applications to suit individual needs is essential to providing a high-quality and rewarding wireless experience."
Among traditional mobile phone customers, overall satisfaction has remained virtually unchanged during the past two years. However, among the 42 percent of traditional handset customers who indicate they are likely to purchase a new mobile phone in the next 12 months, 76 percent say they "definitely will" or "probably will" upgrade to a smartphone.
"Satisfaction remains relatively unchanged among traditional mobile phone customers, likely as a result of heightened awareness of advanced services available on smartphones and the lack on new device offerings with upgraded feature sets," said Parsons.
For the ninth consecutive study, Apple ranks highest among manufacturers of smartphones in customer satisfaction. Apple achieves a score of 855 and performs particularly well in physical design and ease of operation.
For the third consecutive study, LG ranks highest among traditional mobile phones with a score of 719. LG performs particularly well in the physical design and features factors. Nokia (714) follows LG in traditional mobile phone rankings.
The 2013 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Satisfaction Study--Volume 1 and the 2013 U.S. Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction Study--Volume 1 are based on experiences evaluated by 9,767 smartphone customers and 6,759 traditional mobile phone customers. Both studies were fielded between July and December 2012.