When shopping for a new smartphone what’s the first thing you do? Do you look at prices and see which one is the cheapest, or maybe just the best bang for your buck? How about including the specs of the phone with that; is the latest in screen or processing technology what you serach for, or is it something else? While these are all great reasons for choosing a new device, some keep it a little more simple: where’s my favorite brand’s newest device? While this may seem silly on the surface, as it seems to ignore every reason we upgrade our devices in the first place, it plays a huge part in many people’s decision and is done because of user experience. Many people see the error of Samsung’s ways quite often, and there’s good reason for that, as they tend to make some decisions the rest of the industry doesn’t, but those decisions seem to pay off for them. Whether it’s a consistent user experience in everyone’s favorite-UI-to-hate TouchWiz, or just the overall quality of Samsung devices, Samsung leads the Android pack by far in customer retention rates. 58% of Samsung users upgrade to another Samsung phone when they are ready to make the leap, and that’s followed up only by LG with 37% according to a Wall Street Journal study conducted in 2013 and based on users in the US, UK and Australia. What’s more interesting is seeing Motorola and Sony at the bottom of that chart, pulling 22% and 24% respectively.
Why the massive difference between OEMs here? Well Apple can be explained pretty easily; if you’ve jumped into iOS you have absolutely nowhere to go but Apple, and seeing as how 24% flat-out left Apple last year according to this study you can see only the people who are truly unhappy with an iOS device are the ones that drop it to change ecosystems, which can be painful since you can’t carry over apps you’ve purchased. Samsung leading the pack isn’t too surprising because of its popularity, but it is rather impressive to see nearly 60% of Samsung owners sticking with the brand, even with dozens and dozens of other brands of Android phones you can move to. Motorola has only themselves to thank for their abysmal rate, and it wasn’t until the Moto X that the company finally launched a cohesive Android experience across all US carriers, forgoing their traditional carrier exclusivity with Verizon outside a smattering of fairly mediocre devices on other carriers. Sony is another brand that is surprising but also isn’t when you really think about it, especially when considering the US market. While Sony’s brand name is huge in Europe, it’s not as well known for smartphones in the US, and that again is their own fault. Sony has said in the past they effectively don’t care about the US, and without the large user base found in the US to keep coming back to their brand you’ll see their overall numbers stay lower than a company like Samsung or HTC who have released their flagship devices in most countries around the world consistently. I found LG to be particularly surprising though, as they really only started making quality flagship phones with the 2012 Nexus 4, and although their offerings since then have been solid that only gives users a year or less to keep with the company if they’ve upgraded, a statistic that’s not likely very high given the price of smartphones.
All this wraps up pretty nicely though, and even though there’s a fair amount of brand exchanging going on in Android there’s one thing all Android users can be proud to say: we don’t lose our apps when moving to another vendor, and we don’t have to worry about switching out an entire ecosystem if the brand we have now does something stupid and is deemed unworthy of a future purchase. Choice has long been Android’s strongest suit, and it continues here, particularly for the end user.