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Apple's iPhone leads in JD Power satisfaction survey of US carrier customers

In terms of customer satisfaction Apple is the most popular smartphone brand among U.S. carrier subscribers, according to two new J.D. Power studies, though that position isn't absolute.

Among so-called "full-service" carriers, Apple scored highest with T-Mobile and Verizon users, J.D. Power said on Thursday. Samsung ranked the highest with AT&T and Sprint customers, despite AT&T being the world's first iPhone carrier.

Looking at non-contract carriers like Boost, Cricket, Virgin, and MetroPCS — typically owned by the full-service networks — Apple claimed the top spot with a score of 811. Microsoft (796), Samsung (790), and LG (782) rounded out some of the top brands.

Full-service carriers typically generate more satisfaction, J.D. Power noted, in large part because customers are more likely to have the latest and most expensive phones, with things like faster processors and better cameras. Indeed while 31 percent of full-service subscribers picked features as their reason for buying a device, 51 percent of non-contract customers cited price.

Both studies polled people on factors like performance, features, ease of operation, battery life, and design. For full-service carriers, though, 12,248 people were surveyed between March and August, while the non-contract study involved 2,762 people over a much longer timespan, between Sept. 2015 and this August.