ACSI Data Shows Samsung Ties Apple Atop Cell Phone Market

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Wireless Phone Service and Cell Phone Study 2023-2024, overall customer satisfaction with wireless service experiences a 3% increase, reaching a score of 76 out of 100.

Mobile network operators (MNOs) and full-service mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) improve 3% to 76 each, while value MVNOs increase their lead over the other wireless categories after rising 4% to an ACSI score of 80. Customer satisfaction with cell phones jumps 3% to 81.

“As 5G networks expand nationwide and new affordable 5G devices become available, consumers are finding even more reasons to reevaluate their mobile options,” says Forrest Morgeson, Associate Professor of Marketing at Michigan State University and Director of Research Emeritus at the ACSI. “Customers want providers that can deliver on the promise of next-generation connectivity through competitive plans and excellent service — not just empty hype about speculative 5G speeds. Traditional carriers must reassess how they can better meet these needs or risk losing consumers to competitors that can give them more bang for their buck.”

Samsung catches Apple in cell phone manufacturer lead, takes top spot among 5G phones

  • The arms race continues between Apple (up 1%) and Samsung (up 3%) as both up their game to tie for highest overall satisfaction at 82.
  • Motorola moves up 3% to meet Google at 77 after the latter dips 1% year over year. The smaller cell phone manufacturers finish last despite improving 1% to an ACSI score of 72.
  • Industrywide ACSI improvement reflects the increasing popularity of 5G phones, which outpace legacy technology for customer satisfaction by nearly 10 points (82 to 73). Among 5G customers, Samsung pulls ahead of Apple by a score of 83 to 82. Google and Motorola are each at 78.


AT&T maintains stranglehold over MNOs

  • AT&T stays in first place in the MNO category after surging 4% to an ACSI score of 78. T-Mobile is a close second, up 4% to 77.
  • Despite making the category’s biggest leap at 6%, U.S. Cellular and Verizon (up 1%) share the bottom at 74. The latter’s position in last place should not be surprising as it has lost subscribers in four of the last five quarters. Verizon hopes to rectify this by adding more customization to its wireless plans.
  • While MNOs see year-over-year improvements in each customer experience benchmark, ACSI data show they fall behind when it comes to customer perceptions of value and have the lowest level of price tolerance in the industry.


AT&T earns top marks for call quality and network capability

  • In addition to measuring customer satisfaction for MNOs, the ACSI also measures call quality and network capability.
  • AT&T leads the way in both, scoring 82 for call quality and 83 for network capability. T-Mobile scores 80 in each category, while Verizon notches 80 for call quality and 79 for network capability. U.S. Cellular finishes last in both categories, scoring 77 for call quality and 76 for network capability.


Consumer Cellular, once again, outperforms value MVNOs and all other carriers

  • Across the three wireless categories, value MVNO Consumer Cellular is the customer satisfaction leader after gaining 4% to match its previous record-high score of 85. The carrier continues to serve customers well by consistently adding affordable offerings to its burgeoning product lineup.
  • Mint Mobile (recently acquired by T-Mobile) is next, up 5% to 83, followed by Tracfone (up 5% to 80) and Straight Talk (up 3% to 79). Google Fi sits in last place despite increasing 1% to an ACSI score of 77.
  • For value MVNOs, all aspects of the customer experience improve, including notable gains in call quality, call reliability, network coverage, and data speed. The enhanced network capabilities now available to value MVNO customers, combined with aggressive pricing, is proving to be a winning combination, particularly against the backdrop of recent inflationary pressures.


Spectrum Mobile leads full-service MVNOs

  • Spectrum Mobile moves to the top of the full-service MVNO category after soaring 5% to an ACSI score of 79. Xfinity Mobile, which also improves 5%, is next at 78. After sharing the lead in 2023, Cricket Wireless finishes third (up 1% to 77).
  • Last year’s co-leader Metro by T-Mobile (unchanged) and Boost Mobile (up 4%) are at 76 and 74, respectively.
  • Customers feel that full-service MVNOs have boosted their overall quality and value. However, unlike for MNOs and value MVNOs, certain aspects of the full-service MVNO customer experience decline, including courtesy and helpfulness of store/service center staff, speed of store/service center transaction, and call center satisfaction.


The Wireless Phone Service and Cell Phone Study 2023-2024 is based on interviews with 12,414 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between April 2023 and March 2024. Download the ACSI study here.

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About Author

Taylor Graham, marketing grad with an inner nature to be a perpetual researchist, currently all things IT. Personally and professionally, Taylor is one to know with her tenacity and encouraging spirit. When not working you can find her spending time with friends and family.