J.D. PowerSmartphone customers are significantly more satisfied with the latest smartphones, indicating that manufacturers’ efforts to enhance styling, feature sets, usability and software are paying off, according to two new J.D. Power and Associates reports.

Overall satisfaction among smartphone customers totaled 796 on a 1,000-point scale, a 22% increase from 2012, according to J.D. Power’s “2013 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Satisfaction Study – Vol. 1” and “U.S. Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction Study – Vol. 1.”

Surveying feature and smartphone customers who have been using their mobile devices for less than one year, J.D. Power researchers measured overall customer satisfaction according to a range of factors: performance (29%); ease of operation (26%); physical design (24%); and features (21%) were cited the most important. Smartphone users ranked performance (33%); physical design (23%); features (22%); and ease of operation (22%) most important.

Smartphone customer satisfaction increased in all survey categories, but satisfaction with performance increased most (up 26 points). Several other key attributes showed significant improvement, including operating system reliability, processing speed, and video/camera picture quality, J.D. Power found.

Overall satisfaction among traditional mobile phone customers was essentially unchanged for the past two years. Survey respondents indicated a strong intention to upgrade to smartphones: 76% of the 42% of the traditional mobile phone customers who indicated they were likely to purchase a new mobile phone in the next 12 months said they “definitely will” or “probably will” buy a smartphone.

Other key findings include:

  • Nearly two in 10 (17%) smartphone customers experience a software or device malfunction.
  • Smartphone customers spend an average of 115 minutes per week using social networking applications on their device.
  • Smartphone customers spending more than 100 minutes per week on social apps are 14% more likely to recommend their smartphone model than those that spend 100 minutes or less on social apps.

“As the capabilities of wireless phones and their applications continue to expand, and as customers grow more reliant on their device, handset manufacturers have an opportunity to further shape the customer experience and impact satisfaction with better integration of services and more communication options, such as video chat,” Kirk Parsons, J.D. Power and Associates’ senior director of telecommunications services, elaborated.

Turning to smartphone customer satisfaction and individual brands, Apple ranked highest among manufacturers for the ninth consecutive reporting period with an overall score of 855, performing particularly well in physical design and ease of operation.

LG took top ranking among traditional mobile phone manufacturers for the third consecutive study period, scoring an overall 719 and performing particularly well in physical design and feature factors, according to J.D. Power. Nokia followed with a score of 714.