Apple's iPhone handily beats the competition when it comes to overall satisfaction, according to J.D. Power's latest rankings.
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Battery life, it turns out, is one of the most critical factors in winning the hearts and dollars of smartphone buyers, reports J.D. Powers and Associates. Smartphones that have crummy battery life rate low in owner satisfaction, and are likely to see their owners flock to different manufacturers when it comes time to upgrade.
J.D. Power and Associates polled 7,080 smartphone owners between July and December 2011 to see which devices and manufacturers rated the highest in terms of satisfaction. J.D. Power measured smartphone satisfaction by several key factors: performance (35%); ease of operation (24%); features (21%); and physical design (20%).
Based on these criteria, the maximum number of points any one device could score is 1,000. The industry average measured in at 774 points. Where did the various smartphone makers land?
Apple's iPhone earned the highest score, with 839 out of 1,000 possible points. Customers rated the iPhone higher in the latter half of 2011 than they did in the first half. iPhone owners were the most satisfied for the seventh time in a row (according to J.D. Power's polls).
Rating second in the satisfaction rankings is HTC, with 798 points (down from 801 in the last J.D. Power poll). Every other smartphone maker lost ground and rated below the industry average of 774 points. Samsung earned a rating of 769 points; Motorola earned a rating of 758 points; LG earned a rating of 733 points; RIM earned a rating of 733 points; Nokia earned a rating of 702 points; and Palm tool last place with 697 points.
It's not all that surprising to see RIM, Nokia, and Palm rounding out the bottom. Nokia's Symbian smartphones have been in significant decline for the past year and its Windows Phone devices are too new to be included in the survey.
RIM's latest BlackBerry system refresh, BlackBerry 7, didn't win over too many buyers when it launched during the third quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, RIM is struggling to relaunch its smartphone platform with BB10.
As for Palm, well, it was officially canned by HP in August 2011, leaving webOS users somewhat stranded.
Back to battery life, though. It's the number one cause of smartphone dissatisfaction, and has actually declined in recent years. Why? 4G. Smartphones with 4G on board typically have lower battery life.
"Both carriers and manufacturers recognize the fact that battery life needs to be improved," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates. "However, the study uncovers the need for a greater sense of urgency--short battery life can result in perceived phone problems, higher rates of merchandise returns, and customer defections."
Parsons says that battery life satisfaction leads directly to customer loyalty--at least as far as brand is concerned. "Approximately 25% of 4G-enabled smartphone owners are highly satisfied with their battery and say they 'definitely will' repurchase a device from the same manufacturer," reported J.D. Power. "In comparison, among owners who are less satisfied with their battery, only 13% say the same."
This begs the question, what can be done about battery life? Well, Motorola found one solution with the RAZR MAXX. It crammed a 3300mAh battery into its premier smartphone. Most other smartphones ship with batteries between 1250 and 1850mAh. Will other phone makers follow suit in order to score higher on the satisfaction scale?
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