J.D. Power: Apple iPhone ranks highest in smartphone customer satisfaction for 5th consecutive time

Overall satisfaction with smartphones and traditional mobile phones is considerably higher among owners who use their devices for social media activity, compared with satisfaction among owners who do not access social media platforms on their phones, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study—Volume 1 and the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction Study—Volume 1, both released today.

Among smartphone owners who use their device to access social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, satisfaction averages 783 on a 1,000-point scale—nearly 22 points higher than among those smartphone owners who do not often use social media sites on their device. Currently, more than one-half of smartphone owners report having used their device to access social media sites via the mobile Web or mobile applications. While rates of mobile social media site usage are not nearly as high among owners of traditional mobile phones (9%, on average), satisfaction among traditional handset owners who use their device for social media is notably higher than that of traditional handset owners who don’t access social media (754 vs. 696).

“It’s not unexpected that smartphone owners access social media sites from their device more frequently than traditional mobile phone owners due to features such as larger screens and QWERTY keyboards,” said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates, in the press release. “However, these findings demonstrate that equipping devices with powerful features and service is key to creating positive customer experiences with wireless devices.”

The study finds that wireless users who engage in mobile social media activity on their mobile device also tend to use it more often for calls, texts and data; are more likely to purchase additional wireless services in the future; and are also more likely to provide positive recommendations for their handset brand and service provider, compared with users who don’t use social media on their device.

“It’s clear that the gap in satisfaction between customers who use social media applications on their device and those who don’t is driven by several factors, but the critical ingredient is whether the user has a positive experience with the wireless device itself,” said Parsons. “Providing features that facilitate social networking activity and make it easy for users to communicate and share information between various social media sites may be an effective way for service providers to further engage customers and increase loyalty.”

These two studies measure customer satisfaction with traditional wireless handsets and smartphones among owners who have used their current mobile phone for less than two years, by examining several key factors. In order of importance, the key factors of overall satisfaction with traditional wireless handsets are: operation (30%); physical design (30%); features (20%); and battery function (20%). For smartphones, the key factors are: ease of operation (26%); operating system (24%); physical design (23%); features (19%); and battery function (8%).

For a fifth consecutive time, Apple ranks highest among manufacturers of smartphones in customer satisfaction with a score of 795 and performs particularly well in ease of operation, operating system, features and physical design.

J.D. Power 2011 Wireless Consumer Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study

The studies also find the following key wireless handset usage patterns:

• The average price of a traditional wireless mobile phone continues to decline and averages $73 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, 46 percent of owners report having received a free mobile phone when subscribing to a wireless service, which is a historical high.

• Mobile applications continue to enhance the smartphone user experience. Two-thirds of owners say they have downloaded games and social networking applications to their device. More than one-half (54%) say they have downloaded travel software, such as maps and weather applications, while 53 percent indicate having downloaded entertainment-oriented applications. This indicates that smartphone owners are continuing to integrate their device usage into both their business and personal lives.

• Ownership tenure impacts overall satisfaction with the device experience. Those who report owning their device less than one year are significantly more likely to be more satisfied than those who have owned their wireless phone for a longer period of time (773 vs. 728). Newer devices tend to offer more features, services and better quality than older phones.

The 2011 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study—Volume 1 and the 2011 U.S. Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction Study—Volume 1 are based on experiences reported by 7,275 smartphone owners and 11,347 traditional mobile phone owners. The studies were fielded between July and December 2010.

For more information on customer satisfaction with wireless service, wireless retail sales, cell phone handsets, customer care, prepaid wireless service and business wireless service, please visit JDPower.com.

Source: J.D. Power and Associates

Related articles:
J.D. Power: Apple iPhone ranks highest in smartphone customer satisfaction – again – September 23, 2010
J.D. Power: Apple iPhone ranks highest in smartphone user satisfaction – again – October 08, 2009
J.D. Power: Apple iPhone ranks highest in smartphone customer satisfaction – April 30, 2009
J.D. Power: Apple iPhone ranks highest in business wireless smartphone customer satisfaction – November 06, 2008


    1. Does CR even conduct consumer satisfaction surveys? Or do they just run a bettery of tests based criteria offered by consumers?

      JDP on the other hand, is all about measuring performance and customer satisfaction based on input from actual users.

      If both assumptions are correct, then which one makes a better case when considering a rated product.

      CR attempts to put a (product) peg in a round hole (barrage of tests) and if it doesn’t fit inside the hole, its rejected.

      JDP asks, what are you doing with that peg and how’s that hole working out for you?

    2. Hey look CR, someone actually did some actual real research. Of course, they are actually a entity that consumers actually listen to. Actually, CR isn’t even relevant so they DON’T have to actually do any real research, actually….

  1. Everything 5 star…. Except battery function?
    Why would the battery drag the iPhone down in the scoring?
    Not removable? Who cares.
    Sounds to me like the same people that trash the iPhone cause it doesn’t have a physical keyboard.

  2. I’m sorry. Zeke, the phone tester at consumer reports, who’s been there since all you could get was beige AT&T phones does not agree with these findings.

    Zeke is a highly knowledgeable engineer. He was one of the only professionals to stand against the break up of AT&T back in the day fearing that it would give consumers too much choice.

    Similarly, Zeke is against Net Neutrality these days.

    When asked about his iPhone findings being somewhat at odds with the industry, Zeke responded, “I tested one of them eye phones. Dang screen kept flippy flopping around while my chair was spinning.”

  3. I would have to agree with the findings for the iPhone. My only complaint is that the battery runs out too quickly. Yes, I could get a Mophi Juice Pack, but I hope the next iPhone dramatically improves on battery life.

    Oh, and adds a telephoto lens and boomerang personal security feature.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.