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American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The ACSI study looked at how satisfied consumers are with 10 of the best-selling smartphones from last year, and rated them on a score between 1 and 100. Both the Galaxy S III and Note II earned high marks of 84. This year's GS4 was not included in the study.
Apple's products ranked just below Samsung's. The iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S both earned an ASCI store of 82, and the iPhone 4 earned a score of 81.
Five of the top 10 devices in terms of consumer satisfaction belong to either Samsung or Apple, which reflects their popularity in the market.
"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 ACSI director David VanAmburg. Only a few key features differentiate Apple's iPhones. The iPhone 4 and 4S look identical, for example, but have a handful of internal changes. "The latest earnings report from Apple was better than expected, but the name of the game for Apple has always been innovation." The ASCI report shows that consumers aren't clear on just how well Apple has innovated in recent years.
"Samsung, on the other hand, shows a strong upward ACSI trend from the Galaxy S II to the Galaxy S III," continued VanAmburg. "If the S4 performs as well -- or even better -- in the eyes of customers, Samsung could threaten Apple's dominance in overall customer satisfaction."
[ ASCI responders aren't as pleased with social media. See Facebook, LinkedIn Rank Like Airlines On User Satisfaction. ]
Samsung sold about 72 million smartphones in its most recent quarter, while Apple sold 31.2 million iPhones in its most recent quarter.
There are a few surprises in the bottom half of the list. The Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX HD, which went on sale during the fourth quarter of 2012, earned an ASCI score of 80. It was just ahead of the 2011-era Samsung Galaxy S II, which scored 78. The Droid RAZR landed in eighth place with a score of 77.
Rounding out the last two slots in the top 10, believe it or not, are the BlackBerry Curve, with a score of 67, and the BlackBerry Bold, with a score of 62. These handsets are both from 2011. Given the fierce competition from other manufacturers, such as LG, and BlackBerry's poor performance in the U.S. of late, it is a surprise to see them on the list.
ASCI points out that smartphones score higher, in general, than feature phones do in terms of satisfaction. Smartphones average a score of 76, while feature phones average 69.
"Like Apple, BlackBerry offers smart devices only, yet the company stays firmly entrenched at the bottom of the industry in customer satisfaction," said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and chairman. "This does not bode well for BlackBerry considering that smart typically outperforms feature when it comes to cellphones."
ASCI did not spell out exactly how metrics were measured in its report, other than to say its data is culled from more than 70,000 interviews with consumers.