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iPhone owners show greatest loyalty

gadgets Updated: May 15, 2014 10:31 IST

Apple's share of the smartphone market might be slipping when faced with competition from cheaper Android handsets, but when it comes to retaining customers, it is still the number-one handset brand with a 75 % retention level.

That is, according to the WDS (Wireless Data Services) Mobile Loyalty Audit 2014, published Wednesday, which is based on responses from 4000 smartphone owners in the UK, US, Australia and South Africa.

At the other end of the scale, despite making better and better phones with each year that passes, is Sony. When it comes to upgrading or trading in an existing handset for a new model, only 23 % of Sony handset owners stick with the brand.

After Apple comes Samsung. It manages a retention rate of 54 % putting it in second place, followed by Nokia (37%), marginally ahead of BlackBerry in fourth with 35% while HTC rounds out the top five with a retention score of 28 %.

More consumers switch than stick and because of this, Samsung is the biggest winner, as 33 % of consumers dumping their existing brand will go for a Samsung handset as a replacement, while Apple only grabs 20 % of those deserting their current handset maker.

The survey also notes that these retention levels don't differ by age, gender or contract type and that in South Africa, one of BlackBerry's last remaining strongholds, retention is still very strong, 36 % of BlackBerry owners buy another BlackBerry when ti's time to trade in or upgrade.

Although Apple is way ahead in terms of brand loyalty, when it comes to ranking handsets in terms of satisfaction, the figures are much closer. Nearly three quarters (70%) of iPhone owners are "highly satisfied" with their smartphone, but in a very close second place is Motorola (69%), with Samsung in third (64%) and Sony in fourth place with 60%, only marginally ahead of BlackBerry, which rounds out the top five with 58 %. That puts the brand above HTC (57%), LG (55%) and Nokia (53%).

The report also shows that there isn't always a connection between satisfaction and retention. Although Apple scores highest for satisfaction, over half of all consumers -- 65 % -- are highly satisfied with their current smartphone for the first six months of ownership, but this drops to 58 % from the seventh month of ownership.