Most of the time, when we evaluate smartphones, we’re looking at the inputs: which device has a better screen, a faster processor, or a sharper camera. But J.D. Power has long been doing the opposite. Rather than trying to measure products and brands on what they offer, it instead surveys the owners to see who is happiest.
For years, J.D. Power has surveyed users to see which smartphone brand (and wireless carrier) makes consumers the happiest. This year, the race at the top is way too close to call.
In the 2017 full-service smartphone study (full-service meaning subscribers to one of the five national US carriers), Apple and Samsung were tied for first place. Well, technically, Apple won with a score of 840 to Samsung’s 839, but a 0.1% margin of victory on a poll that does have a margin of error isn’t really a victory.
What’s more impressive for Samsung is that it’s still tied with Apple on consumer perception of happiness, the year after the Galaxy Note 7n debacle. If Samsung didn’t have to recall millions of potentially-flammable smartphones, it’s easy to imagine it would have taken a decisive first place.
The other major finding that J.D. Power is highlighting is the effect smart home devices have on how much consumers enjoy their smartphones. “Overall satisfaction with smartphones is 49 points higher among customers with voice-activated home assistants such as Amazon Echo (881 vs. 832 on a 1,000-point scale) than those without such a device. Significant gaps also are seen among customers with a smart thermostat than without (865 vs. 831, respectively) and customers with a smart appliance than without (866 vs. 832). Overall satisfaction with smartphones is especially high—885—among owners who have all three of these connected home devices.”
It could be that customers who use smart home devices do get more tangential enjoyment from them, but more likely is that anyone who’s buying an Amazon Echo or Philips Hue bulb enjoys technology more to begin with.