Consumer Reports: Android Excels, AT&T Flounders

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Consumer Reports has expanded upon last month’s smartphone ratings with a full report on the mobile industry which includes rankings of the latest handsets along with carrier satisfaction survey results. Unsurprisingly, Android devices once again received high marks, with phones running Google’s operating system topping three of the four major carrier lineups. (The iPhone 4 was rated highest on AT&T, but Consumer Reports continues to refuse recommending the popular phone due to the so-called “Antennagate” reception issues). More interesting is the fact that AT&T has dropped into the bottom spot in terms of subscriber satisfaction in nearly every major market; on average nationwide, the carrier scored about nine points lower than second-to-last T-Mobile (60 to 69), and a disturbing 22 points lower than the top pick, regional provider U.S. Cellular (82 points).

Also notable is the fact that Sprint seems to have seen some success with its attempts to curb subscriber churn: the carrier now closely trails rival Verizon in average nationwide satisfaction, 73 to 74. In terms of handset manufacturers, Samsung comes out the big winner here, with Galaxy S variants placing either first or second in the ratings on all four major national carriers; only Verizon’s Motorola Droid X and AT&T’s non-recommended iPhone 4 received higher scores than their Galaxy linemates.

Perhaps the main takeaway from this report is that success can very easily have its downsides: the very phone which has padded AT&T’s earnings report quarter after quarter has also created such a strain on the network that many subscribers now see the carrier in a negative light; anyone who’s had four bars in a public venue yet were unable to make a voice or data connection has experienced this phenomenon of overcapacity. In other words, AT&T’s iPhone exclusivity agreement may have actually left it in a very vulnerable position when that agreement expires — as past surveys have indicated, startling numbers of smartphone buyers would have gone with a Verizon iPhone had such a device been offered.

Source: Consumer Reports

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Evan Blass
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