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iPhone 4S most popular iPhone ever

Apple's newest smartphone scores higher satisfaction rating than last year's iPhone 4

Apple iPhone 4S owners rated their smartphones higher than did people using last year's iPhone 4, a pollster said today.

According to a survey conducted by ChangeWave Research in early November of more than 200 U.S. iPhone 4S owners, 77% said they were "very satisfied" with the device, with another 19% pegging "somewhat satisfied" for their answer.

Altogether, 96% of iPhone 4S users agreed that they were satisfied with their phones.

Both the very satisfied and total rankings were higher than those reported by iPhone 4 owners in a July 2010 poll taken, like the 4S survey, just weeks after the device's launch.

Last year, 72% of iPhone 4 owners reported they were very satisfied, while another 21% said they were somewhat happy with their smartphone, for a total score of 93%.

Apple regularly trounces all rivals in the smartphone satisfaction surveys done by ChangeWave.

Consumers ranked Siri, the iPhone 4S' new voice-activated personal assistant, as the top reason why they liked their new phone, even though Siri remains in beta and balks at answering some questions.

Forty-nine percent of the iPhone 4S owners put Siri at the top of their list as the iPhone 4S' best feature. In second place was "ease of use," with 39%, followed by the device's eight-megapixel camera (33%) and "faster Web browsing" (24%).

Those same iPhone 4S owners ranked poor battery life as their top disappointment, no surprise considering the large volume of complaints over the device's power consumption.

According to reports posted on Apple's support forum, the iPhone 4S rapidly runs through its battery. One thread on the forum has logged more than half-a-million views and sports over 6,000 messages, enormous numbers for the company's support discussions.

Last month, Apple updated iOS to fix the battery problem, but most users said iOS 5.0.1 had not changed things for them, and in some cases drained their phones' batteries even faster.

When ChangeWave polled iPhone 4S users shortly before Apple issued iOS 5.0.1, two-in-five said they had seen reduced battery life.

But only 8% ranked the faster-draining battery as a "very big problem," with another 20% saying it was "somewhat of a problem."

Dropped calls, a woe that's plagued iPhone owners for years, was less of a headache for iPhone 4S owners, said ChangeWave, attributing the better results to the influx of Verizon subscribers.

"In the current survey, nearly two-in-five iPhone 4S owners are using other wireless service providers -- Verizon or Sprint -- that have historically shown lower dropped call rates in our surveys than AT&T," said ChangeWave in a blog post describing the recent poll's results.

When dropped calls on the iPhone 4S are separated into two buckets, one for AT&T and the other for Verizon, the numbers are in line with historical trends: 4.1% of AT&T subscribers using the iPhone 4S reported dropped calls, more than triple the 1.3% of Verizon subscribers.

"The lower dropped call rate for the iPhone 4S in the current survey appears primarily attributable to owners now using multiple wireless service providers - as opposed to only using AT&T back in the July 2010 survey," concluded ChangeWave.

ChangeWave's November dropped-call numbers are in line, albeit slanted even more in favor of Verizon, with a similar survey the firm did last April .

The iPhone 4S beat 2010's iPhone 4 in a customer satisfaction survey. (Image: ChangeWave.)

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is [email protected] .

See more articles by Gregg Keizer .

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