iPhone SE takes top spot in large US customer satisfaction survey, indicating demand for compact phones

It looks like there's still a lot of smartphone users who prefer one-handed use over large screens, as the compact iPhone SE ousted all other smartphones in the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey. 

With a score of 87, Apple's budget-friendly handset and its four-inch screen managed to beat second-placed iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ by one point. Other Apple and Samsung models fill out the top 20, with scores ranging from 75-85. It is important to note that newer flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ and the LG G6 weren't included in the survey, as it was conducted between May 2016 and April 2017.

As you may know, the iPhone SE debuted in early 2016, as a beefed up version of the iPhone 5s. The nimble A9 chip makes the handset an excellent performer even when compared to contemporary flagships, and its low (for Apple's standards) price has made the phone a popular choice in emerging markets.

ACSI Managing Director David VanAmburg has commented on these rather surprising findings: 

ACSI also mentions that these results are based on interviews with more than 36,000 consumers in the USA, all of which were chosen by random and contacted via e-mail. After the data is collected, the organization measures the results by using its own "cause-and-effect econometric model" which estimates customer satisfaction. 

Making sense of all this data

Okay, but what does this mean? One might always argue that there's no surprise with an iPhone grabbing the top spot on its home turf. There's also the fact that customer satisfaction isn't that reliant on performance benchmarks, but how well a device is able to satisfy the needs of its user, so it's natural for people who prefer smaller phones to be happy with the SE. 

However, considering the rather large scale of this survey, it would be interesting to see the actual percentage of participants who claim to own an iPhone SE. If the number is substantial, this might give phone makers a real indication that there's a big chunk of the market whose needs aren't actually being met with this rush for huge screens that has been occurring in the last few years. 

Do you want to see more powerful small-screen phones in the future? Do you agree with the data from ACSI? Let us know in the comments!



1. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1412; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

Wrong, it indicate the demand of a budget phone with flagship DNA

3. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

More like it indicates demand for a cheaper version of iPhone flagships... The overpricing begins to hurt some Apple fans already, I see...

5. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Then again, not everyone buys the SE because it is cheaper, but due to it's compact screen size... So, I guess the iPhone SE's satisfaction rating is due to a mixture of cheaper price and compact screen size... sort of.

25. sgodsell

Posts: 7607; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I have seen for the first time ever iPhone SE sales that were free. Buy an iPhone 7 or 7 plus, and get a free iPhone SE. This tells me that they were not selling well, or they had too much of them built up in stock, and had to get rid of some of them. Most people would give that free iPhone SE a better mark than the iPhone 7, especially if you received it free with your iPhone 7 or 7 plus. Not to mention the iPhone 7's have no audio jack.

31. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

It fills a niche just like the expensive keyOne does.

7. izim1

Posts: 1615; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Is that what it indicates? I thought i bought one because it was a compact flagship... because the iphone SE is anything BUT "budget". I don't think "budget" and anything "apple" go together. For what a new SE costs, you can get a year old full sized iphone

16. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

I did exactly the same, the usual crowd trying to put their delusional thoughts in other's mouths. I sold my iPhone 6 to get an SE because I don't like massive phones, simple as that.

15. techbuttcheex

Posts: 205; Member since: Jul 25, 2015

No people actually like smaller screens because they're easier to use. 5"+ sounds good on paper, but when you can't reach the top of the screen it doesn't matter. Your phone isn't a TV.

20. HugoBarraCyanogenmod

Posts: 1412; Member since: Jul 06, 2014

Most of the people I surveyed they buy iPhones se is because they cannot afford iPhone 6s or 6s plus. If both priced the same you would've bought iPhone 6s instead

27. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

No I wouldn't, I had an iPhone 6 already and have never bought the "S" version of any iPhone. You're wrong. How many people did you survey? Are you a professional pollster? I have plenty of money, I own a company, like I said - people like you should stop thinking you know what others think, you're not good at it.

35. izim1

Posts: 1615; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

Lmao. Who did you surveyed? Did you stand in front off an apple store and ask SE buyers if they bought them because they couldnt afford the "regular" iphone? "Yes, random stranger, i cant afford a regular iphone so i have to buy the SE" lol is that what they told you? Strange because an iphone 6s currently costs 550 compared to 499 for the SE. So there goes your asinine theory. Unless youre seriously claiming people couldnt come up with an extra $50 or an extra $2/month if financed....

29. michaelny2001

Posts: 355; Member since: Aug 01, 2012

absolutely! It makes an amazing software affordable. Besides that is super popular with high school kids and also people with small hands. I can't do anything less than 5.5 inch anymore. that ship has sailed.

30. smoked_2na unregistered

Hugo is spot on!

2. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

No surprises, excellent phone. Much better looking than the iP7, IMO.

4. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

That is kind off odd because I can only see consistent SE model price cut that is bigger than in comparison to 4.7" and 5.5" apple models.

19. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

price cut is because of high demand... /s

22. may_czos

Posts: 957; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

What? Price cut because of high demand? Go back to school.

26. sgodsell

Posts: 7607; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

A number of carriers recently had sales for the iPhone SE. If you bought and iPhone 7 or 7 plus, then you received a free iPhone SE. That is a major price cut. I think you are the one who needs to go back to school.

32. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

Samsung is practically begging people to buy the S8 with the amount of gifts and rebates they're offering for it. Your point?

36. razmahtaz001

Posts: 501; Member since: May 11, 2013

u need to take economy 101 LOL

6. Macready

Posts: 1830; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

This survey is completely unrelated to actual demand figures so the title is fully beside the quoted source. For example, if a Chiron scored highest on a consumer satisfaction scale, it still wouldn't change the fact that on worldwide car sales scale, its demand is about as low as possible (a few hundred sold/ordered, not sold out any time soon either). Also, it's noteworthy that there are always several models that score within a point, which, without knowing the margin of measuring error could easily mean that results could really swing either way, when measured again.

8. Guaire

Posts: 897; Member since: Oct 15, 2014

Of course there are people who likes really small high-end phones, but if demand was high every manufacturer would be making them. Even Sony gave up on the Android side. The SE is the least popular iPhone despite lower price. High satisfaction doesn't mean strong demand. According to this table 4.7" iPhone users' satisfaction rates are lower than 5.5" users, but they outsell their respective Plus siblings. Not to mention S6 and S7 satisfaction rates.

9. Furbal unregistered

Helps that they are cheaper as well. Got my 64gb for $229 killer phone for that price

10. Wiencon

Posts: 2278; Member since: Aug 06, 2014

This is incredible. Android OEMs are copying Apple in every way but when Apple makes top selling compact phone, the competition makes 5,8" phones. Samsung had Galaxy Alpha and everyone loved it, it didn't sell so good because of the stupid market strategy, tiny battery and statements that they will never make Alpha 2. Why the heck? Sony always screws something up with their Compact line, why this year it is not waterproof? Why take loved features from it? I bought 2 SE's and will buy the new one as soon as it hits the market, it does everything right

17. Jimrod

Posts: 1605; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

I nearly bought a Galaxy Alpha because I loved the look and size of it (to replace my old iPhone 4) but the display model in the shop lagged as soon as I tried to use it so that was that. The concept and styling were fine, the execution was poor.

18. Guaire

Posts: 897; Member since: Oct 15, 2014

Android OEMs are not copying Apple in every way. Some do, some don't. Apple too have followed Android manufacturers at many instances like bigger screens for an example. The SE is not a top seller. http://cdn2.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Current-iPhone-Market-Share.jpg.jpg http://cdn.bgr.com/2016/10/iphone-7-iphone-6s-market-share-localytics-1.jpg Samsung Alpha didn't sell well maybe because most of Android users wants bigger phones. If reports are true Samsung S8+ outsells S8 contrary to how iPhone 7 and 7 Plus sales are going. Compact Sony flagships are done too.

23. may_czos

Posts: 957; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

Alpha didn't sell well because of dreadful battery life, laggy interface and low resolution display. Steep price didn't help either. Size was perfect, it looked and felt simply stunning.

28. Guaire

Posts: 897; Member since: Oct 15, 2014

Apple sold tons of more expensive iPhones with low resolution and dreadful battery life, but unlike iPhones it had removable battery. The Alpha had flagship specs and at the time lag complains was universal for Samsung phones if I remember right.

33. Flash

Posts: 1972; Member since: May 19, 2017

Lag complaints still are.

13. miketer

Posts: 546; Member since: Apr 02, 2015

That's thoroughly unnecessary.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless