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Phones

Apple's only thiiisss much better than Samsung in customer satisfaction

But Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 outshines Apple's iPhone 6S Plus, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Apple scored top place among smartphone makers for customer satisfaction in a new report.

Sarah Tew/CNET

You may gripe about battery life, but on the whole, you're pretty darn satisfied with your phone.

And if you're an iPhone owner, you're likely the happiest of the bunch -- but just barely.

After tying with Samsung last year in terms of smartphone satisfaction, Apple has nudged past its major rival to take the No. 1 spot this year, according to a new American Customer Satisfaction Index report released on Wednesday. In 2015, both companies scored 80 out of 100 for customer satisfaction. For 2016, Apple inched up to score 81 out of 100, while Samsung stayed where it was the year before.

That level of satisfaction may be good for you, but it hasn't been great for the companies that make your phones. Their sales have leveled off or dropped as consumers, who have bought millions of phones in recent years, collectively shrug at new models that hardly seem a step above what they've already got in their hands.

On top of that, wireless carriers have done away with phone subsidies, meaning you now have to pay the full cost of a phone, either up front or via monthly installments.

Given the new landscape, customer satisfaction for smartphone makers could have dropped, but the industry's ranking has actually improved, according to the ACSI. The average grade for smartphone makers rose to 79 this year from 78 the past two years, 76 in 2013 and 74 in 2012.

Apple was the only major phone maker to improve in customer satisfaction, according to the ACSI, which attributed the improvement to its large-screen models, introduced with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Yet Samsung had cause to cheer as well.

Among the top smartphones for customer satisfaction, Samsung's Galaxy Note 5 took first place with a grade of 86 ahead of Apple's iPhone 6S Plus, which scored 85. Samsung tied for third and fourth place with its Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 4. Though companies such as Motorola and LG appeared on the list, Apple and Samsung dominated the top rankings among satisfied customers.

Neither Apple nor Samsung immediately responded to CNET's request for comment.

In ranking their phones favorably, most customers said it was easy to text and make phone calls. They also liked their phone's design and features and found the software and menus easy to navigate. The one sore point was battery life. Though it's improved somewhat over time due to larger batteries and software enhancements, smartphone battery life scored dead last in customer satisfaction.

The smartphone data is part of the 2016 ACSI Telecommunications Report on mobile phones, fixed-line phone service, Internet service providers, subscription TV service and wireless telephone service. The information is based on interviews with 12,710 customers in the US contacted via email between March 5 and March 31.