Customer satisfaction with cell phones is up for a second straight year, rising 2.6% to a new all-time high ACSI score of 78. Steady growth in the use of smartphones, which have much higher levels of customer satisfaction, helps drive the overall industry gain. However, as data usage increases, costs to access overloaded networks are high, leaving customer satisfaction with wireless service providers stagnant at an ACSI score of 72.

While Apple still sells nearly twice the number of smartphones in the United States as its nearest competitor, Samsung now comes out on top in one critical metric — customer satisfaction. Samsung surges 7% to an ACSI score of 81, beating Apple in overall customer satisfaction for the first time. Smartphones are becoming more dominant in Samsung’s cell phone product mix, pushing its satisfaction score higher. Apple declines for the second year in a row (-2% to 79), and the field is getting tighter, with Motorola Mobility and Nokia (now Microsoft) both at 77. BlackBerry has seen its market share nearly vanish, but satisfaction climbs to 74 (+7%) for those customers that remain.

“Samsung has gone from up-and-comer to top-of-the-heap on the strength of its smartphone portfolio,” says David VanAmburg, ACSI Director. “Apple’s magic isn’t gone, but the luster has dulled on its older models. Each iteration improves on the last, but Apple’s year-long product refresh cycle is an eternity when a new Android phone seems to be released every week.”

Among wireless phone providers, Verizon Wireless separates from the pack after climbing 3% to 75. T-Mobile (69), Sprint (68) and AT&T Mobility (68) are tightly grouped behind. As smartphone adoption continues to grow, network demands increase along with costs to the consumer, each contributing to stagnant customer satisfaction.

“Consumers once used their cell phones primarily for talking, whereas now smartphones are becoming lifestyle accessories that we just can’t live without,” says Fornell. “But these powerful devices rely on networks that are still playing catch-up with consumer demand.”

Source: American Customer Satisfaction Index

MacDailyNews Take: It’s easy to claim satisfaction with a knockoff when you don’t know what you’re missing. People with low expectations and a lack of experience are generally more easily satisfied. Just read the reviews (see below).

Jimmy Podunk: Wow, this here wine tastes great! (The wine came from a box.) I’m extremely satisfied!
Globe-hopping sommelier: This wine is a bit flat. (The wine is a 95-point vintage.) I’m unsatisfied.

People claim to be satisfied with Windows PCs, too, until they finally try their first Mac. Then they clearly see the folly of their ways.

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