Consumer Electronics

Samsung Edges Out Apple as America's Best Smartphone

It probably comes as no surprise that Americans like their cellphones more than they like their wireless service providers. What may come as a surprise is that the six highest-ranked of the top 10 smartphones in 2021 are made by South Korea’s Samsung.

The ranking is included in a report issued this week by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Overall, Samsung phones earned an index score of 81, unchanged compared to 2020. iPhones from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) dropped two index points to post a score of 80 in this year’s ACSI survey.

The latest iPhone 12 series smartphones were not included in the survey results. According to ASCI, “The sample size for iPhone12 wasn’t large enough during the timeframe surveyed, which is why they aren’t scored in the study.”

The survey was conducted between April 1, 2020, and March 29, 2021, by interviewing more than 21,000 randomly chosen U.S. consumers who were asked to evaluate their experience on a number of different features.

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10+, S10+ and S20+ tied for the top spot with index scores of 85. The Galaxy S20 received a score of 84, the Galaxy A20 scored an 83, and the Galaxy S10 scored an 82.

The top-scoring Apple devices with scores of 82 were the iPhone 11 Pro, the iPhone 11 Pro Max, the iPhone X and the iPhone XS Max.

Smartphones from Google and Lenovo (Motorola) also were ranked in the survey, but no phone from either of those companies or from any China-based smartphone maker made the ACSI list of the top 25 phones.

ACSI’s survey asked survey respondents to score their cell phones on several “customer experience benchmarks.” Overall, Americans were most pleased with the phones’ ease of sending texts (index score of 85). Easy phone calls and overall device design both received index scores of 84. These ratings were unchanged from 2020.

The lowest score went to battery life, which received an index score of 80 in both 2020 and 2021.

Among the wireless network operators, Verizon and AT&T tied for the top spot with index scores of 74. T-Mobile ranked third (72) and U.S. Cellular was fourth (69). AT&T gained a point compared to its 2020 score, while Verizon’s score was unchanged. T-Mobile, the leader in 2020 with an index score of 76, dropped 5% in 2021. U.S. Cellular’s 2021 score was two points lower than the prior year’s.

Network quality scores dipped by one point at Verizon to 79, by three points at T-Mobile to 74 and by two points at U.S. Cellular to 72. AT&T’s quality score was unchanged at 77.

While store and service center staff got the highest index scores overall (80), call center satisfaction got the lowest score (71). Reliability (based on the frequency of dropped calls) got the second-lowest satisfaction score (75).