NEW YORK: Apple's iPhone is the highest-scoring mobile device in terms of US customer satisfaction, a result attributed to the "powerful features" and "positive experience" it provides.

JD Power and Associates polled 7,275 smartphone owners and 11,347 adults possessing feature phones, converting the findings into an overall index ranking based on a 1,000-point scale.

Apple led the smartphone charts for the fifth successive year, posting 795 points, largely thanks to its ease of use, appearance and functionality.

Motorola took second, registering 763 points, followed by HTC, only slightly behind after delivering 762 points.

Among less advanced appliances, Sanyo topped the table with 715 points, credited for the attractiveness of its handsets, long battery life and usability.

LG claimed second in this category, yielding 711 points, and Samsung occupied third, having accrued 703 points from the relevant sample.

Where smartphone subscribers logged on to portals like Facebook and Twitter, average satisfaction ratings reached 783 points, some 22 points ahead of their counterparts not engaging in the same pastime.

A majority of this audience have utilised social media through this route, measured against 9% of feature phone respondents, and these groups posted satisfaction scores of 754 points and 696 points respectively.

"It's not unexpected that smartphone owners access social media sites from their device more frequently than traditional mobile phone owners," Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at JD Power and Associates, said.

"However, these findings demonstrate that equipping devices with powerful features and service is key to creating positive customer experiences with wireless devices."

People visiting Web 2.0 platforms in this fashion make calls, send texts, purchase additional services, and spread favourable word of mouth for their brand with the greatest regularity.

"The critical ingredient is whether the user has a positive experience with the wireless device itself," Parsons added.

"Providing features that facilitate social networking activity and make it easy for users to communicate and share information between various social media sites may be an effective way for service providers to further engage customers and increase loyalty."

Usability was the main driver of satisfaction for both the smartphone and feature phone communities, receiving 26% and 30% from these two populations in turn.

Design secured 23% and 30% respectively, and functionality was mentioned by around a fifth of each panel.

The smartphone cohort also emphasised operating systems, and battery life assumed particular importance on feature phones.

Elsewhere, the study reported that the average price of a feature phone has declined from $81 (€57; £50) in early 2009 to $73 in 2011, primarily due to discounts and incentives supplied by manufacturers and networks.

Two-thirds of smartphone subscribers had downloaded gaming and social networking apps, and 54% had obtained maps and weather tools, standing at 53% for "entertainment-orientated" offerings.

Contributors owning their handset for under a year lodged a typical score of 773 points, falling to 728 points when they had kept one device across a longer time period.

Data sourced from JD Power and Associates; additional content by Warc staff