Samsung Galaxy S III beats iPhone 5 in customer satisfaction study

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Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II were the top-rated smartphones in terms of customer satisfaction, beating out Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 and other recent iPhones, according to a new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

samsung galaxy S 3

The Galaxy S III outranked Apple's iPhone 5.

According to the ASCI, which was founded by the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, Samsung's flagship smartphone for 2012, the Galaxy S III, received an 84 (on a 0 to 100 scale), as did the Note II, beating the iPhone 5 at 82. Apple's iPhone 4S also scored an 82, and the iPhone 4 scored an 81. The survey was completed in March, before the introduction of Samsung's Galaxy S4, its 2013 flagship model.

Interestingly, while U.S. customers rated Samsung's smartphones the best, consumers in Samsung's home market of South Korean prefer Apple. According to the National Customer Satisfaction Index (NCSI) in South Korea, which uses the same technology and methodology as the ACSI, the iPhone 5 has higher customer satisfaction than Galaxy S III.

The data is notable in light of the ongoing rivalry between Samsung and Apple for smartphone supremacy.

In an interview with FierceWireless, ACSI Director David VanAmburg said Samsung's newer devices received a big boost in part because of their larger screen sizes. (The S II has a 4.3-inch screen and the S III has a 4.8-inch screen, while the Note II has a 5.5-inch screen.) The S III received a much higher score than the S II, its predecessor.

"The S III seemed to be a game-changer for Samsung in a way the iPhone 5 wasn't for Apple," VanAmburg said, noting that iPhone 5 has same score, 82, as the iPhone 4S.

VanAmburg agreed that Samsung's marketing likely helped. "We're measuring the customer experience rather than perceptions based on marketing," he said. Yet, "we're likely to perceive what we've been told to perceive over and over again, especially if we don't have comparisons."

Apple has lately been using its ads to tout the overall customer experience on the iPhone, including for music and photography, rather than focusing on specifications. "I think that's an interesting approach for them," VanAmburg said. "It's an attempt, and I think it's smart of them do this, to move away from that flavor-of-the-month phenomenon, more into the iPhone--it's your trusted brand. It's all about that brand affinity."

Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Motorola Mobility Droid Razr Maxx HD scored an 80, and the Droid Razr scored a 77. VanAmburg said the Maxx HD score "shows that Motorola can put out that Android smartphone that is in striking distance of both Samsung and iPhone."

The firm did not have any scores for BlackBerry's (NASDAQ:BBRY) new BB10 phones, the Q10 and Z10. "We'll be anxious to see what the rankings of the new [BlackBerry 10] devices are," VanAmburg said, who noted the company's previous Curve and Bold scored 67 and 64, respectively.

ASCI did not rate any Windows Phone devices.

In May the ASCI reported that customer satisfaction with wireless devices such as smartphones improved 2.7 percent in 2013 for a total rating of 76, matching a 10-year high. Apple led the OEM ratings with an 81, but that was down 2 percent from the previous year. Samsung had the biggest gain of 7 percent for a rating of 76. Motorola had a rating of 77, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) had a 76 rating, HTC scored a 72 rating and LG Electronics was down 5 percent with a rating of 71. BlackBerry came in low with a rating of just 69.

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