More customers are satisfied with Apple's phones than any other handsets, but they're not as happy as they were last year, a new report said.
According to an American Customer Satisfaction Index report issued today, Apple received a score of 81 (on a scale of 100) in terms of customer satisfaction. But the company dropped 2 percent from its 2012 position, and the iPhone lags the customer satisfaction rating of 86 for Apple's desktop, laptop, and tablet business.
At the same time, satisfaction with Motorola phones jumped 5 percent from 2012 to 77, and Nokia grew 1 percent to 76. Samsung posted the biggest gain of all handset makers, up 7 percent to 76.
Other decliners included HTC and LG, while BlackBerry was flat at 69.
The handset results shouldn't come as too big of a surprise. Samsung's newest devices, including the Galaxy S4, have made it more popular with users. But Apple's most recent smartphone, the iPhone 5, wasn't viewed as a big leap over prior generations.
The ACSI is based on a survey of 70,000 people in the U.S. Results measure customer satisfaction with more than 230 companies in 43 industries and 10 economic sectors, as well as more than 100 services, programs, and Web sites of federal government agencies. A scale of 0 to 100 designates how satisfied people are with their services, with higher scores designating greater satisfaction.
Along with handset vendors, the report also measured satisfaction with wireless phone, Internet, and paid TV services. Generally, people are happier with their wireless and paid TV services this year, but the rankings are among the lowest of all tracked sectors. The Internet service provider sector made an appearance on the ACSI for the first time, but it ended up with the worst customer satisfaction rating of all industries -- 65.
Wireless telephone service climbed 2.9 percent to an ACSI benchmark of 72 for 2013, matching its 10-year high and reversing a two-year trend of declining satisfaction.
Verizon Wireless leapt over Sprint to become the highest-ranked carrier with a score of 73. Sprint stayed steady at 71, and AT&T rose to 70. T-Mobile posted the only decline among wireless carriers, falling 1 percent to 68.
"It remains to be seen whether T-Mobile's recent move to become the first national wireless carrier to forgo contracts, augmented by the company's just-completed acquisition of MetroPCS, can make things better," the report said.
Overall, customers are "far more satisfied" with their fiber-optic and satellite service than cable service. Verizon's FiOS service led the pack with a score of 73, while DirectTV followed with 72 and AT&T's U-verse followed with 71. Dish rounded out the above-average providers with a rank of 70. All of the cable TV providers improved in 2013, excepted for Time Warner Cable, which fell 5 percent to an industry low of 60.
"High monthly costs and problems with both reliability and speed are the main culprits," the ACSI report said. "Add to that a landscape that is even less competitive than subscription TV service ... and there is little incentive to improve service."
However, the report noted that options such as Google Fiber may eventually force current Internet service providers to step up their customer service.