Illustration Gary Neill

Samsung, HTC rank closely behind Apple in smartphone satisfaction

For all the talk of Android’s ascendance, consumers remain infatuated with Apple’s iPhone. In this year's reader survey of product satisfaction, reliability, and service, the iPhone ran away with top marks in every smartphone feature satisfaction category, aside from text entry.

The iPhone also swept all ease-of-use measurements except one: Data syncing went to Sony. (In battery life, not listed in the charts here, Apple ranked second to Nokia.)

Samsung and HTC smartphones also scored well. The two brands scored similarly on average, but they demonstrated different strengths. Samsung edged out HTC on speed, display quality, and text entry, while HTC scored better on camera quality and GPS capability.

Satisfaction levels with the reliability of Samsung phones improved greatly in this year’s survey, with far fewer surveyed Samsung owners reporting significant problems with their phones.

On the whole

Consumers were happiest on the whole with their handsets’ design—unsurprising considering how homogenous smartphone design has become. Phone owners were, in general, least satisfied with the overall speed of operation of their phones.

Users’ estimation of their phones’ reliability was about on a par with their overall satisfaction ratings, with Apple taking the top spot. In general, however, more users reported trouble with handsets than they did with tablets, and on the whole they deemed those problems to be more severe.

As on tablets, users cited operating system failures or malfunctions as the biggest problem on smartphones. Battery issues took second place, followed by touchscreen failures (again, mirroring the number two and three tablet complaints).

We also asked readers about the wireless carriers that sell and support their smartphones, as well as provide the network coverage. Verizon scored highest in satisfaction with call quality, while Sprint trailed among the Big Four. Verizon won again in the speed and reliability of its wireless internet service, with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint in a virtual tie for second.

About the survey

The iPhone wasn’t the only Apple product to score highly in this year’s satisfaction survey. In overall satisfaction, the company took top honors in laptops, desktops, and smartphones, and it sat near the top in tablets.

We launched our satisfaction survey in August and began tabulating the results in mid-November. We changed our approach to rating and ranking tech brands this year: Instead of rating products as below average, average, or above average, we simply report the average score (on a scale of 1 through 10) that brand owners gave to their devices in the survey.

We investigated five product categories in this year’s survey: laptops, desktops, printers, smartphones, and tablets. Overall we found that tech users are satisfied with their products, as the numbers are generally positive and seem to be improving from year to year. Satisfaction levels with product reliability and durability in particular have improved considerably since 2011.

Apple’s iPhones still rule in satisfaction with features

BrandOperating systemOverall speedDisplay qualityCamera qualityGPSTouchscreen respon- sivenessText entryDesign
Apple 8.7 8.5 9.1 8.7 8.5 8.8 8.2 8.9
Samsung 8.4 8.2 8.9 8.4 8.3 8.4 8.0 8.5
HTC 8.4 8.1 8.8 8.5 8.4 8.4 7.9 8.5
Nokia 8.0 8.3 8.6 8.1 8.4 8.2 8.2 8.3
Motorola 8.1 8.0 8.7 8.0 8.2 8.1 7.8 8.3
Sony 7.7 7.1 8.3 8.4 7.8 7.7 7.6 8.0
LG 7.7 7.5 8.1 7.5 7.7 7.5 7.5 7.8
Pantech 7.1 7.6 8.2 7.5 7.2 7.6 7.9 7.9
RIM (BlackBerry) 7.1 7.3 8.0 7.5 7.3 7.4 7.6 7.6
Huawei 7.4 6.7 7.9 6.8 7.4 7.2 7.1 7.5

Chart notes: Each listed number is the average response from surveyed readers on a 1-to-10 scale where 1 is “extremely dissatisfied” and 10 is “extremely satisfied.” Brand ranking is based on the average scores across all feature-satisfaction measures.

Phone owners see Apple, Nokia as most reliable

BrandAny significant problemsSatisfaction with overall reliability
Apple 9% 8.5
Nokia 13% 8.3
Samsung 16% 8.2
HTC 21% 8.1
Motorola 21% 8.0
↑ Above average ↑
↓ Below average ↓
Pantech 16% 7.6
LG 18% 7.5
RIM (BlackBerry) 19% 7.3
Sony 22% 7.1
Huawei 21% 6.7

Chart notes: A “significant problem” is one that stops or seriously impairs operation of the phone during the first two years of ownership. Satisfaction scores are on a 1-to-10 scale where 1 is “extremely dissatisfied” and 10 is “extremely satisfied.” The average satisfaction score is 7.7.

Apple leads in customer support, while RIM trails

BrandPercentage of problems left unresolved by customer supportOverall satisfaction with service
Apple 15% 6.8
HTC 24% 6.6
Motorola 21% 6.4
↑ Above average ↑
↓ Below average ↓
Samsung 24% 6.3
LG 22% 6.2
RIM (BlackBerry) 20% 6.1

Chart notes: We omitted brands due to insufficient data. The average satisfaction score is 6.4 (out of 10).

Verizon users most happy with network service

CarrierCall qualityInternet service quality
Verizon 7.2 7.8
AT&T 6.9 7.3
T-Mobile 6.8 7.3
Sprint 6.5 7.3

Chart note: Scores are on a 1-to-10 scale where 1 is “extremely dissatisfied” and 10 is “extremely satisfied.”

Products mentioned in this article

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For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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