A new consumer survey of smartphones confirms what many iPhone owners will readily tell you -- that they love the device but hate the wireless service it's paired with.
Based on a 100-point scale, the iPhone was rated highest in customer satisfaction with a score of 83, followed by the Palm Pre and T-Mobile G1, both at 77, according to the study by market research firm CFI Group. Rounding out the top five were the BlackBerry (73) and Palm Treo (70).
Phones running on the Symbian and Windows Mobile operating systems were grouped in an "others" category, each with a score of 66.
"The iPhone is the best thing to happen to the smartphone industry because it captured the imagination of a whole new set of consumers that might not have made the smartphone jump," said Doug Helmreich, program director with CFI Group, which focuses on customer satisfaction research. "The iPhone raised the bar not only for other smartphones, but for the networks as well."
According to the study, based on surveys of 1,000 smartphone users, iPhone service provider AT&T hasn't measured up. Among carriers powering smartphones, AT&T rated the lowest, earning a score of 69 from iPhone users, and 73 from all other customers.
The wireless operator earlier this month conceded that it has had trouble meeting the increased demand from data-heavy iPhone users and outlined steps it is taking to improve its network. Not fast enough, apparently. A Gizmodo reader yesterday told of learning that his iPhone was dropping 22% of calls after bringing it to the "Genius Bar" at an Apple Store in New York. The Apple staffer told him he was lucky he wasn't losing 30% of calls, which would be normal for the city.
CFI's Helmreich said the exclusive deal AT&T has for the iPhone has been a double-edged sword. The arrangement has brought in millions of new customers, but half of iPhone users surveyed want to switch to another wireless service. And the 40% of iPhone customers who switched carriers to get the phone are now pushing down AT&T's customer-satisfaction score because of their frustration with the service.