In news that should surprise no one, Apple's iPhone 4S is a hit and more popular than its similar-looking but trouble-plagued predecessor.
A survey by Bethesda, Md., research firm Change Wave found that more than three-quarters of iPhone 4S owners, 77 percent, are highly satisfied, while 19 percent are somewhat satisfied. Only 2 percent gave the device a thumbs down.
That's a bit better than the 72 percent who were highly satisfied with the iPhone 4 in a July 2010 ChangeWave survey. Twenty-one percent were somewhat satisfied.
Verizon Drops Fewer Calls
And in an important look at the performance of the iPhone on two carriers, a fairly recent phenomenon, Verizon Wireless users cited the lowest number of dropped calls, 1.3 percent compared with 4.1 percent for AT&T. There was no figure for Sprint, which started selling the 4S last month.
Overall, 4S owners reported less than half the number of dropped calls as did iPhone 4 owners in the 2010 survey, 2.5 compared with 5.2 percent.
The survey of 215 4S owners was taken about a month after the new device launch, from Nov. 2 to Nov. 9.
The 4S has a faster processor, better camera and an improved antenna design that fixes the reception problems found by iPhone 4 users when they hold the handset in a way that bridges its dual steel bands.
But by far the most popular feature is its voice-recognizing personal assistant, Siri, which can help users manage their schedules, search the Internet, get directions and even come up with witty answers to a range of questions.
Asked about their favorite features, respondents, who were allowed to give more than one answer, cited Siri 49 percent of the time, while 39 percent cited ease of use and 33 percent liked the 8-megapixel camera with LED flash.
Also not surprisingly, the most often cited dislike was the battery life of the 4S, with 38 percent saying it's too short. Another 30 percent griped that the 4S is not 4G compatible, at a time when both AT&T and Verizon Wireless are rolling out long-term evolution high-speed data networks. Only 11 percent cited the device's multitasking as a downer.
Wireless analyst Kirk Parsons of J.D. Power and Associates said the poll is consistent with his research.
"We are seeing the same [overall satisfaction] impact from the newer iPhone model as well in our database," Parsons said. "Based on the initial weekend sales launch, Apple broke all sales records for a new launched device, and I'm sure the Christmas holiday season will be strong as well, as Sprint is now on board."
The battery life problem isn't the only bump on the road for Apple, though. Siri experienced an early system outage and not everyone is thrilled about her level of omniscience.
The president of NARAL, the Pro-Choice America Foundation, wrote a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook expressing concern at widespread reports that the system can't seem to locate abortion providers as easily as it does restaurants or theaters.
"It is disappointing to read that a tool like Siri is missing the mark when it comes to providing information about such personal health issues as abortion care and contraception," Nancy Keenan.
In a press statement carried by numerous media on Thursday, Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said "Our customers want to use Siri to find out all types of information, and while it can find a lot, it doesn't always find what you want.
"These are not intentional omissions meant to offend anyone, it simply means that as we bring Siri from beta to a final product, we find places where we can do better and we will in the coming weeks."