Two phone makers dominate this year's customer satisfaction index - and I'm not surprised

The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index survey results are in, and the difference between the very best comes down to a point.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
Person holding the iPhone 14 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Customers are becoming more conscious of what pieces of technology they invest in.

June Wan/ZDNET

Every year, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) surveys tens of thousands of people to rank the best mobile network operators and phone manufacturers. For the latter, factors like ease of text messaging, phone design, video quality, and battery life are taken into consideration as customers rate the phone brands on a scale of 0 to 100.

To recap, last year's index saw Samsung and Apple sharing the top spot with an average rating of 80. Google and Motorola were right behind at 77 points a piece.

Also: The best phones you can buy right now

Today, the ACSI released its latest survey results, which measured the satisfaction levels of cell phone users between April 2022 and March 2023. The process included randomized email interviews with 15,881 customers. Here are the results.

This year, both Apple and Google saw an increase in satisfaction levels, with the two companies jumping up to 81 points and 78 points, respectively. Samsung maintained its status at 80, which means users are just as satisfied with the Korean giant's latest handsets as they were with last year's phones. But more importantly, Apple now has pole position to itself.

ACSI cell phones survey

On the other hand, Motorola and other brands saw significant drops.

American Customer Satisfaction Index

The ACSI also measured the satisfaction levels of manufacturers based on their 5G and non-5G offerings. In these findings, both Apple and Samsung were tied at first with 81 points for their 5G models (most phones released after 2020), while Google scored an 80.

Also: The best Samsung phones right now (including foldables)

Samsung attributes much of its success to its increasing implementation of after-sales services, like digital care options and personal concierges. According to its internal research, 73% of consumers buying a new smartphone listed technical support as a key purchase factor. And the durability of devices was just as valued.

5G satisfaction chart from American Customer Satisfaction Index
American Customer Satisfaction Index

In contrast, Apple saw more favorable results in the non-5G models section, leading the pack and beating Samsung by four points (78 to 74.) Given the longevity and extensive software support for which iPhones are known, the higher satisfaction with its older models is not surprising.

Also: 7 things you didn't realize your phone can do

The big takeaway from this year's index is that the gap between the top phone manufacturers (Apple, Samsung, and Google) and others is slowly but surely widening. Consumer spending is not as lavish as it once was, and customers are becoming more conscious of what pieces of technology they invest in, putting more reputable brands front and center and the alternatives further and further away.

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