Is your smartphone the best? Is your carrier the worst? Find out which manufacturers and carriers your fellow PCMag readers think provide the most satisfying mobile service and products.
MOBILE OPERATING SYSTEMS
With phones based on Google’s Android operating system and Apple’s iOS commanding nearly 90 percent of all smartphone sales, some might ask why Microsoft keeps trying. Apparently, the company feels the smartphone can be done better. And maybe it’s right. According to our survey respondents, Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 clearly bests Apple and Android. In 2012, Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 shared the Readers’ Choice Award for mobile phone platforms with Apple’s iOS. This year, Microsoft’sWindows Phone 8 stands alone at the top, relegating Apple’s iOS to Honorable Mention.
Red denotes Readers’ Choice. Blue denotes Honorable Mention.
Readers’ Choice satisfaction is measured on a scale from zero (worst) to ten (best). Average satisfaction ratings of 9.0 or higher are few and far between and that’s why we’re so impressed with Windows Phone 8’s ratings. Phones with Microsoft’s latest OS received an overall satisfaction rating of 9.0 and a “likelihood to recommend” rating of 9.2. Other scores of 9.0 or higher include satisfaction with reliability (9.2), text messaging (9.3), email (9.3), and Web browsing (9.0).
It’s not pure euphoria for Windows Phone 8 users. Respondents realize that the platform still needs to grow its ecosystem, especially when it comes to apps. Satisfaction with availability of apps scored only 7.4, lagging far behind Apple’s very impressive 9.4 and Android’s 8.8. Customer satisfaction with the quality of the apps was better (8.3), but it still trailed Apple (9.1) and Android (8.8).
While Apple’s ratings remain strong, the company did not improve in anymeasure compared with 2012. Many ratings remained unchanged and a few slipped. Overall satisfaction decreased slightly from 8.7 in 2012 to 8.6 this year and likelihood to recommend dropped from 9.2 to 8.9. Apple’s iOS remains a highly regarded platform, but the company is clearly facing more significant competition than it has in past years. This may account for its lack of upward movement.
As in 2012, Android remains a distant third, with an overall satisfaction rating of 8.1 and likelihood to recommend rating of 8.3. However, these are both improvements over last year’s 7.9 and 8.2, respectively. In general, Android’s other satisfaction measures are fairly strong; its only ratings under 8.0 are in satisfaction as a music player (7.8) and satisfaction for gaming (7.5).
You might argue that Microsoft’s ratings are so high because the platform is new and satisfaction with products tends to wane over time as products become dated. That’s fair, but even when we look at satisfaction with devices less than a year old, Windows Phone 8 leads the way. Even more notable, Android satisfaction increases substantially among newer phones, indicating that the Readers’ Choice Award competition may be even tighter in 2014.
In addition to asking our respondents to rate satisfaction, we asked them why they chose their particular phone. Readers’ considerations tended to vary when purchasing a phone with a particular OS. For instance, 56 percent of Android users who purchased their smartphone in the last year cited display size or display quality as a primary reason for choosing their phone. For Apple, only 23 percent of customers noted that as a reason, likely due, in part, to the fact that Apple phones have smaller screens (and less screen size options) than Android smartphones.
On the other hand, Apple users said availability of apps and ease of use were significant driving factors. Neither of those characteristics were cited as key by many Android users. About a third of Android users pointed to product reviews as part of what helped them make their choice; only 15 percent of Apple users said the same. Meanwhile, 44 percent of Apple users indicated ease of use was important compared with only 15 percent of Android users.
The chart below shows the percentage of Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 8 users who chose the platform based on a specific motivator. As you can see, the results paint very distinctive portraits of what motivates customers for each platform.
With each platform appealing to users with different needs, there will continue to be room in the market for several platform choices—and 2013 promises to give us just that. BlackBerry has arguably stuck around this long purely because of legacy corporate use. However it has recently introduced the generally well-received Blackberry Z10& based on the new Blackberry 10 operating system, and that may breathe new life into the platform. Even the Mozilla Foundation is stepping into the game, introducing the first Firefox OS phone at the recent Mobile World Congress. But one of the stories we’ll watch most closely this year is Microsoft’s attempt to build on the indisputable success it’s had satisfying the early adopters of Windows Phone 8.
WINNERS: MOBILE OPERATING SYSTEMS
All eyes may be on Apple and Google these days, but Microsoft has delivered a mobile platform–Windows Phone 8, that bests both of those companies in user satisfaction. It delivers to its users on nearly every aspect of the mobile phone experience.
Apple pretty much created the modern smartphone market and its customers continue to be very satisfied with the ease of use and app ecosystem that the iOS platform provides.