J.D. Power Report Weighs In On Smartphone Design Vs. Performance

Sometimes it seems like phone manufacturers are locked in a race to deliver the fastest, most feature-packed phones, but sheer power does not a great phone make. According to a recent report from J.D. Power and Associates, the specifics of a device’s design goes a long way in determining how satisfied its users are.

Users of devices with touch screens, for example, are more likely to be satisfied with their phones than users who only have physical keyboards. While I wouldn’t try to convince a dyed-in-the-wool BlackBerry aficionado of that, the scores are pretty conclusive: on a 1,000 point scale, purely touch screen devices rated the highest in satisfaction (817 points), versus devices with just a physical keyboard (782), and devices with a mix of both (785).

Physical size and weight are also key determinants of satisfaction: smartphones whose weight comes in at or under 5 ounces receive the highest satisfaction ratings, and that trend even carries over into feature phones. Satisfaction scores also peak when a smartphone is nice and skinny, with phones at or below the .45-inch level topping the charts.

Apple claims the “Highest in Customer Satisfaction” crown in the smartphone category for the sixth consecutive time, which makes sense considering their zeal for design. In fairness though, it helps that they only really ever run with one new smartphone design at a time. HTC’s second place finish, on the other hand, means the Taiwan-based company can manage to hold their myriad smartphone offerings to a strict standard of performance and design.

While useful in some respects, J.D. Power’s results don’t really break any new ground. Going by their criteria, the “ideal” smartphone would be thin, light, and powerful: in short, what every manufacturer is aiming for anyway. Research like this can almost be dangerous to manufacturers, as it paints a picture of a specific kind of phone that people will theoretically be most pleased with. Differentiation and quality are the ways to thrive in this industry, and if everyone suddenly decides to make the same kind of device, only the consumers lose.