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Apple still No. 1 in customer satisfaction for smartphones: report

In a testament to Apple?s strong focus on user experience, the company once again ranks highest among manufacturers of smartphones when it comes to customer satisfaction, according to a new report from J.D. Power and Associates.

This is the ninth time Apple has taken the top spot in the J.D. Power and Associates report, with the company performing particularly well in physical design and ease of operation to achieve a score of 855. Overall, customer satisfaction with smartphones is up 22 points from last year for a total of 796 on a 1,000-point scale.

?We lead with the story about how satisfaction has improved significantly over the past year,? said Ross Gagnon, research manager at J.D. Power and Associates, Westlake Village, CA. ? Performance-related attributes were kind of driving that.

?For example, the quality of camera has significantly improved,? he said. ?Many people are relying on phone cameras as their primary means to take a photo at this point because the quality is finally there.

?Even though we know people are using phones for more hours in the day, they are getting more satisfied with the battery life. A year ago, there were significant issues with battery life.?

Smartphone performance improves
The 2013 "Wireless Smartphone Satisfaction Study" found that overall satisfaction among smartphone customers who have had their device for less than a year is up as manufacturers continue to improve styling, feature sets, usability and software.

Nokia came in second behind Apple in terms of customers satisfaction with a score 795 followed by Samsung with 793, Motorola with 792, HTC with 790, LG with 744 and RIM BlackBerry with 732.

The area seeing the highest increase in satisfaction is performance, which is up 26 points from last year thanks to improvements in operating system reliability, processing speed and video/camera picture quality.

?The lower to mid-range priced smartphones are actually doing quite well in terms of satisfaction,? Mr. Gagnon said.

?That signifies that someone buying a smartphone for a first time can get a pretty good product for under $100,? he said.

Social activity
Another key finding is that smartphone users are embracing the ability to engage in social networking activity on their smartphones, spending an average of 115 minutes per week using social networking applications. Customers that spend more than 100 minutes per week on social apps are 14 percent more likely to recommend their smartphone model than those spending less time on social apps.

However, customers are still encountering some issues with their devices. The study found that 17 percent of smartphone customers experience a software or device malfunction.

In another report released at the same time, overall satisfaction among traditional mobile phone customers remained virtually unchanged.

The "2013 U.S. Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction Study" found that 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.

For the third consecutive study, LG ranks highest among traditional mobile phones with a score of 719 followed by Nokia with 714.

?The industry as a while appears to be doing well,? Mr. Gagnon said.

?Handset manufacturers should continue to focus on ease of use and usability,? he said.

?They are doing a good job of making sure they haven?t overwhelmed users from a usability standpoint.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York