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iPhone 4 survey: 17% fewer dropped calls than iPhone 3GS

August 4, 2010: 11:12 AM ET

ChangeWave poll finds 93% satisfied with their new iPhone, down from 99% last year.

Source: ChangeWave Research

Given the intense attention paid to the iPhone 4's antenna in the weeks after its release, the issue played a surprising small role in a survey of 213 new owners begun three days after Steve Jobs offered them a free case.

Although one in five said it was "somewhat" or a "very big" problem, 64% of the respondents in the ChangeWave survey said they hadn't experienced it at all.

Customer satisfaction ratings for the new phone were slightly lower than those reported in a similar survey of iPhone 3GS owners a year earlier, but they were still in what ChangeWave research director Paul Carton called "nosebleed territory": 72% very satisfied and 21% somewhat satisfied, down from 82% and 17%, respectively.

"Considering how much was written about the antenna issue and what a firestorm it was, it would have been astonishing to us if we had not seen some effect," said Carton in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

Click to enlarge. Source: ChangeWave Research

The biggest surprise, however, was that when iPhone 4 owners were asked how frequently they had experienced dropped calls, the results were actually lower than when iPhone 3GS owners were asked the same question last year: 5.2% vs. 6.3%, a 17.46% reduction in reported dropped calls.

The bottom line, according to Carton: "Despite the waves of controversy that surrounded the iPhone 4 within days of its launch, the latest Apple release is outperforming almost every other smart phone in the industry in terms of overall customer satisfaction and meeting owners' expectations."

You can read a summary of the survey here. The usual caveats that come with a ChangeWave survey (a self-selected sample, heavily skewed toward early adopters) apply. Below the fold: More charts from the survey.

Source: ChangeWave Research

Source: ChangeWave Research

Source: ChangeWave Research

Note that in the "Dislikes" chart, the iPhone 4's antenna issues came in third, after two complaints about AT&T's (T) network. Also, short battery life, which was mentioned by 41% of iPhone 3GS owners, fell to 15% in the new survey's "Likes" chart.

To put the satisfaction numbers in perspective, here's how the iPhone stacked up against the competition in a ChangeWave survey conducted in June:

Source: ChangeWave Research

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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