Here's a stat to brighten Apple's day: 72 percent of Apple iPhone 4 users appear to be "very satisfied" with their iPhone 4. That's the word from market researcher ChangeWave, which in a study released Wednesday said it polled 213 iPhone 4 users last month and found that more than two-thirds are "very satisfied" and 21 percent are at least "somewhat satisfied." About one third of iPhone 4 users, ChangeWave reported, say the phone exceeds their expectations.
Consumer satisfaction for iPhone isn't exactly anything new, but the iPhone 4 wasn't a by-the-book Apple product launch, either. Following the iPhone 4's arrival in late June, many users complained of reception issues and that bad buzz mushroomed into a full-blown public relations nightmare for Apple, with Consumer Reports saying it wouldn't recommend iPhone 4 based on an antenna design flaw.
Following a few weeks' worth of Antennagate dustup, Apple finally called a press conference and said it would offer free bumper cases to iPhone 4 users to mitigate "death grip" reception issues.
Apple was on the defensive -- an unfamiliar place for the technology titan -- and at an unfortunate time, too, given the stepped-up competition for iPhone from various rivals, including a glut of slick Google Android-based devices.
But Antennagate doesn't seem to have had much material effect on Apple. During the press conference, Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted that 0.55 percent of all iPhone 4 users had called AppleCare about antenna issues, and the return rate for iPhone 4 was 1.7 percent, which was less than one third of the return rate for iPhone 3GS.
The antenna issues don't figure too heavily into ChangeWave's research, either. The company reported 64 percent of study participants saying they "hadn't experienced a problem" and 14 percent saying antenna issues weren't much of a problem. Twenty percent of users described the antenna issue as "somewhat of a problem," and 7 percent described them as a "very big problem," but the antenna issue was not the most often mentioned dislike of the iPhone 4.
Topping the list of iPhone 4 user dislikes is AT&T, with the requirement of using AT&T being the No. 1 dislike according to ChangeWave. The antenna issue comes in second, though it's tied as a user dislike with AT&T's 3G network quality. Most observers see AT&T's loss of iPhone exclusivity in the U.S. as inevitable, and AT&T for its part has been working to expand its carrier relationship with Apple rivals. (Notably, however, the iPhone 4 experiences about 17.5 percent fewer dropped calls than the iPhone 3GS, according to ChangeWave's users.)
Topping the list of iPhone 4 user likes is screen resolution, followed by the iPhone 4's 5-megapixel camera, the touch screen interface, and the ease of use. FaceTime video conferencing, a much-ballyhooed new feature for iPhone, is eighth on the list.
As ChangeWave also notes, the satisfaction numbers for iPhone 4 are lower than the ones Changewave pulled in a similar study in August 2009, after the iPhone 3GS went on sale. At the time, ChangeWave reported 82 percent of iPhone 3GS users as "very satisfied," with 17 percent describing themselves as "somewhat satisfied." It's a small difference, but one that should give Apple some pause in the midst of its iPhone 4 celebration.