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The iPhone 5, Apple’s “disappointing” handset upgrade, has helped the iconic brand top the J.D. Power & Associates user satisfaction rankings for smartphones – and for the ninth consecutive time, too!

The iPhone leads JD’s semi-annual report on smartphone customer satisfaction with a score of 855 points, an increase by sixteen points and sixty points better than the second-ranked Nokia with a customer satisfaction score of 795.

It’s interesting that the Finnish handset maker rose dramatically by 93 points since the last survey.

Samsung is third while Motorola and HTC round up the top five. The average study score is 796 points on a 1,000-point scale, but Apple files as the only handset maker in the world to rise above the average…

LG was #6, followed by BlackBerry which ranked seventh, according to JD Power.

This is the ninth consecutive study where Apple ranks highest among smartphone makers. Apple did particularly well in physical design and ease of operation.

The study determines customer satisfaction by polling folks who’ve used their current mobile device for less than one year, as measured in the areas of smartphone performance (33 percent), physical design (23 percent), features (22 percent) and ease of use (22 percent).

As for the traditional handsets (feature and dumb phones), factors that affect the satisfaction scores are performance (29 percent), ease of use (26 percent), physical design (24 percent) and features (21 percent).

With smartphones growing more matured and feature-packed, small wonder that the average smartphone satisfaction score rose 22 percent since JD Power did its last test at the end of 2012.

“This improvement is likely due to a growing array of new features and services being offered that are providing a seamless product experience between the operating system functions and third-party apps,” the survey notes.

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Satisfaction has increased the most in performance, by 26 points. A few other key attributes, such as operating system reliability, processing speed and camera quality, have also improved “significantly.”

Last year, Apple also emerged victorious in JD Power’s tablet satisfaction rankings.

The company last week launched its ‘Why iPhone’ web campaign, making note of the fact that people love their iPhones.

Apparently love can be measured.

In eight straight studies by J.D. Power and Associates — that’s every study since the first iPhone was introduced — iPhone has been ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Consumer Smartphones.”

iPhone ranked highest in the study, which reviewed the following categories: performance, physical design, features, and ease of operation.

Smartphone penetration rate last year passed the 50 percent mark in the United States and elsewhere.

An estimated one billion installed smartphone base is projected to grow to two billion smartphone users by year’s end, per Strategy Analytics researchers. Of all the handset makers vying for our attention, Apple appears to be best poised as feature phone users upgrade to smartphones.

 

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JD Power notes that 42 percent of feature phone owners indicated they are likely to purchase a new mobile phone in the next twelve months. Of those, more than three out of four, or 76 percent, “definitely will” or “probably will” upgrade to a smartphone.

Even with smartphone sales slowing around the globe, there are still hundreds of millions of people who never owned a smartphone, an ample opportunity for companies like Apple who have loyal following and gadgets to show for it.

Any number of them could opt for an iPhone, especially should Apple introduce a less-pricey model for cash-strapped buyers.

So, how much do you love your iPhone?

If you were polled by JD Power on smartphone satisfaction, how would you rank the device you’re currently using?