By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Ann Arbor, Mich. — Samsung beat Apple in a “Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study” released Wednesday by the America Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
According to the study, Samsung hit a homerun in the brand study with its Galaxy S III and Note II products.
The ACSI study provides 2013 customer-satisfaction benchmarks for 10 of the past year’s top-selling smartphone models in the United States.
Samsung’s flagship model for 2012, the S III, received an ACSI benchmark of 84 (on a 0 to 100 scale), beating Apple’s iPhone 5 at 82, the company’s most recent smartphone offering.
Another Samsung model, Note II, shared the top of the list at 84.
The Galaxy S4 was not included because the ACSI study was fielded just prior to its launch.
In a twist, while U.S. customers gave Samsung’s smartphones the top scores, Korean consumers preferred Apple, the research firm said.
According to the National Customer Satisfaction Index (NCSI) in South Korea, which uses the same technology as the ACSI, the iPhone 5 has higher customer satisfaction than Galaxy S III.
The smartphone segment of the cellphone market is growing at a rapid clip, and ACSI data suggest that smartphone users are much more satisfied than are feature phone users, according to ACSI.
Overall, smartphones earned a customer-satisfaction score of 76 compared with 69 for feature phones.
“While feature phones are cheaper, and therefore viewed by many customers as better value, smartphones excel in quality,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and chairman. “Smartphones receive strong marks for feature variety, design and ease of use, with battery life as their only real shortcoming.”
The iPhone 4S matches its successor, the iPhone 5, with an ACSI score of 82.
Apple’s iPhone 4 is a point lower at 81. On the other hand, at a score of 78, customer satisfaction with the Galaxy S II, precursor to the S III, is lower.
Motorola Mobility’s Droid Razr Maxx HD comes in at 80, while the Droid Razr scores 77. The low end belongs to BlackBerry, far below competition, with 67 and 64, respectively, for its Curve and Bold smartphones.
“Not only does Samsung edge ahead of all iPhones, Apple customers themselves don’t see much difference between the iPhone 4, 4S or 5,” said David VanAmburg, ACSI director. “The latest earnings report from Apple was better than expected, but the name of the game for Apple has always been innovation. Samsung, on the other hand, shows a strong upward ACSI trend from the Galaxy S II to the Galaxy S III. If the S4 performs as well — or even better — in the eyes of customers, Samsung could threaten Apple’s dominance in overall customer satisfaction.”
The smartphone brand study complements and expands the ACSI’s coverage of the cellphone industry, updated in May 2013, gauging customer satisfaction with each company’s complete array of product offerings —smartphones and feature phones.
As reported earlier, Apple’s overall ACSI score is 81, a 2 percent drop compared with 2012, but strong enough to retain the industry lead.
Unlike Apple, which has a smartphone-only lineup, Samsung offers both feature and smartphones.
At 76, Samsung continues to lag Apple for overall customer satisfaction. Nevertheless, the company’s 7 percent gain in 2013 is a clear reflection of the strength of Galaxy S III.
“Like Apple, BlackBerry offers smart devices only, yet the company stays firmly entrenched at the bottom of the industry in customer satisfaction,” said Fornell. “This does not bode well for BlackBerry considering that smart typically outperforms feature when it comes to cell phones.”
The following is a 0 to 100 customer-satisfaction ranking of smartphones, as conducted by ACSI for 2013:
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