galaxy samsung smartphoneFlagship device launches have become increasingly important to wireless OEMs as they look to differentiate their products and brands from competitors. Flagship wireless device launches, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Satisfaction Study – Volume 1 “are an influential and critical driver of device selection, user experience and, ultimately, satisfaction with the brand.”

“A brand’s ranking is closely related to the performance satisfaction with its latest smartphone models,” according to the study, which ranks customer smartphone satisfaction across Tier 1 wireless carriers on a 1,000-point scale based on the weighted average of four criteria: performance (29 percent), features (26 percent), physical design (23 percent), and ease of operation (22 percent).

Smartphone Satisfaction
According to J.D. Power’s report:

  • Apple ranks highest in overall satisfaction among wireless customers of T-Mobile (844) and Verizon Wireless (837). HTC ranks highest (841) among customers of Sprint, and Samsung ranks highest among AT&T customers (854);
  • Overall satisfaction with smartphone devices is highest among AT&T customers (847), followed by Sprint (837); Verizon Wireless (830); and T-Mobile (825) customers. Overall satisfaction among smartphone owners is 836;
  • When smartphone owners are highly satisfied with their smartphone performance (provide ratings of 8 out of 10 on a 10-point scale), there is a positive financial impact for carriers. Highly satisfied owners spend on average, $6 more per month on wireless services than owners with lower satisfaction. Additionally, brand repurchase intent among highly satisfied owners is 20 percent higher than among owners with low smartphone satisfaction (ratings of 7 or lower);
  • Although smartphone owners continue to cite features as the primary reason for selecting a device, the rate has declined significantly to 32 percent from 38 percent in the 2013 Vol. 2 study;
  • The primary reasons for purchasing a smartphone device differ by carrier. For example, Verizon Wireless customers are more likely to purchase their smartphone device based on the phone’s features (34%), while T-Mobile customers are more likely to select their smartphone due to the phone’s price (30%);
  • The reason customers purchase a smartphone impacts satisfaction and repurchase intent. Selecting a device based on operating system generates significantly higher levels of satisfaction (859) repurchase rates. Among these satisfied customers, 41 percent say they “definitely will” repurchase. In contrast among those whose selections are based on cost-specific reasons such as price, only 18% say they definitely will repurchase.

In order for a brand to successfully differentiate itself from competitors, the smartphone and associated technology have to work well, J.D. Power points out. As an example, J.D. Power cites the example of advanced new features incorporated into the iPhone 6, HTC One Max and Galaxy 5 and Note 4, such as facial recognition, fingerprint security identification and the latest OS platforms having “helped drive satisfaction up.”

“When launching a new smartphone device, carriers should be mindful how they position the device features and services,” Kirk Parsons, J.D. Power senior director and practice leader of telecommunications, was quoted as saying.“This can influence model selection and a customer’s experience with the device. When customers are satisfied with their smartphone model selection, the OEM and carrier can benefit through customer loyalty and repurchase intent.”