millenialsSmartphone satisfaction is higher for owners who contract with full-service wireless carriers than it is for those who purchase wireless service on a  non-contract basis, according to Vol. 2 of the J.D. Power 2016 Full-Service Smartphone Satisfaction Study.

Satisfaction among smartphone owners who subscribe to plans from full-service wireless carriers came in at 8.3 on J.D. Power’s 10-point index. That compares to 7.86 for those who purchase wireless service from non-contract carriers.

The former group consists of Tier One providers – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. The latter included non-contract brands such as MetroPCS, Cricket, Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile.

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Smartphone owners who subscribe to plans from full-service carriers are more likely to own the latest, more expensive smartphones as compared to those that pay for non-contract service, J.D. Power notes.

It seems clear that that might skew the market research results somewhat. Indeed, J.D. Power goes on to report that those who own the latest smartphone models are typically much more satisfied with them than those with older models.

Full-service customers rated their smartphone cameras’ photo and video quality an average 8.4 as compared to non-contract customers’ 7.74 satisfaction rating, for example. Similarly, the former rated the processing speed of their smartphone operating systems an average 8.35 as compared to 7.64 among non-contract customers.

Smartphone Satisfaction Drivers
“Typically, full-service carriers will offer the latest smartphones before the non-contract brands mainly due to the higher price points of newer devices,” commented J.D. Power senior director and technology Media & Telecom practice leader Kirk Parsons.

“The majority of the wireless service expense is tied to the device, and the purchase price can be as high as $750. Price points can influence both model selection and a customer’s experience with the device.

“When customers are satisfied with their smartphone selection, the manufacturer and carrier can benefit through customer loyalty and repurchase intent.”

Furthermore, J.D. Power notes the considerable difference in the average prices full-service and non-contract wireless customers paid for devices. The former paid an average $361 for their smartphones while the latter paid an average $137.

In addition, just over half (51%) of non-contract customers cited ¨price/cost¨as the main reason they bought a particular smartphone model. In contrast, the features included in a smartphone model was the single most decisive factor for full-service customers (31%).

Turning to smartphone makers, survey respondents’ rated Apple iPhones sold by T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless highest – 843 and and 834 on a 1,000-point scale, respectively. Samsung smartphones rated highest among AT&T (842) and Sprint (834) customers.

Other key findings revealed in J.D. Power’s latest semi-annual smartphone customer satisfaction study include:

  • Carrier-Level Satisfaction Differs: Among carriers, overall satisfaction with smartphones is highest among AT&T customers (832), followed by Verizon Wireless (825), Sprint(824) and T-Mobile (821) customers.
  • Smartphone Loyalty Stronger for Full-Service Carriers: More than one-third (35%) of full-service customers say they “definitely will” repurchase a phone made by their current manufacturer vs. 20% of non-contract customers who say the same.
  • Customer Interest in Wireless Charging Is High: In both the full-service and non-contract segments, the highest percentages of customers cite “wireless charging” when asked to select the top three features they would like on their next smartphone (51% and 49%, respectively).
  • Shifting Away from Subsidized Phones: The shift away from phone subsidies in the full-service segment contributes to the rise in the average smartphone price to $361 from $318 in 2016 Volume 1 and $239 in 2015 Volume 1.

Image courtesy of flickr user Merlijn Hoek.

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