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Apple's iPhone, Samsung phones nearly equal in J.D. Power satisfaction survey

While Apple and the iPhone ranked first in a survey of U.S. customer satisfaction with smartphones, the company's chief rival — Samsung — came second by only the slimmest of margins, according to a J.D. Power report published on Thursday.

Apple's average score was 840 out of 1,000, while Samsung managed 839, the report indicated. Apple also achieved the highest figures in performance and features, two of the five categories used to gauge satisfaction. The others were "ease of operation," battery life, and physical design.

J.D. Power's results were based on data from 7,994 people polled between October and December who had their current smartphone for less than a year, and were customers with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, or U.S. Cellular. The survey also limited its scope to five phone brands, namely Apple, Samsung, Motorola, HTC, and LG.

Apple's satisfaction score rose 6 points versus last year's survey, but the top gainers were actually Motorola with 15, and HTC with 12.

Another unusual highlight was the claim that iPhone owners were slightly more likely to have smarthome accessories than Android users. This included a ratio of 13 to 11 percent for thermostats, 9 to 8 percent for appliances, and 7 to 6 percent for smartspeakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Home.

The timing of the survey likely played an important role in its results. Polling began shortly after the release of the iPhone 7, and in the immediate aftermath of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 being recalled and discontinued. Penetration of either device would have been relatively low, and indeed most Note 7 owners presumably got refunds or a free replacement like the Galaxy S7 Edge.