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Report: iPhone satisfaction sees its biggest drop since 2012

The whole iPhone 14 family saw a decline in five-star user reviews.

Published onMay 8, 2023

iPhone 14 Pro showing cameras placed on a couch
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
  • Economists and data scientists reviewed over 669,000 user-generated iPhone reviews over a span of 13 years.
  • The researchers found that the iPhone 14 is the biggest disappointment in a decade.
  • This is the first time there has been a drop in user satisfaction since 2012.

The iPhone 14 may have been a misstep for Apple. A new report reveals that iPhone satisfaction is down across the board for the whole iPhone 14 family compared to its predecessors.

According to PerfectRec, a product review site, it worked with economists and data scientists to analyze over 669,000 user-generated iPhone reviews. These reviews span the last 13 years of the iPhone, starting with the iPhone 4. The results found that the iPhone 14 may be the biggest disappointment in a decade.

Here’s PerfectRec’s methodology for the study:

We looked at the base model iPhone released each year between 2011 and 2022 and charted what percentage of all user-generated reviews that were five stars. The base model iPhone is typically Apple’s best-selling model of each generation and gets the most user-generated reviews. Over this period, the proportion of five-star reviews for the base model iPhone steadily increased from a low of 65% for the iPhone 5 to a high of 80% for the iPhone 13.

In the blog, PerfectRec provides a graph showing the percentage of five-star reviews for each phone. Outside of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 12, each phone saw an increase in user sentiment over the years. It appears the number of five-star reviews for the base model iPhone went from 65% to a high of 80%.

However, the base iPhone 14 saw an eight-point drop in five-star reviews, down to 72%. This would be the first drop in public perception since moving from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5, which was released in 2012. It also has the lowest percentage of perfect reviews since the iPhone 8.

iPhone 14 Review Line Chart 2

The base model was not alone either. It appears the whole iPhone 14 family suffered a decline. The 14 Pro also had an eight-point drop, going from 84% to 76%.

iPhone 14 Review Line Chart 3

While the 14 Pro Max experienced a six-point shift, dropping from 86% to 80%.

iPhone 14 Review Line Chart 4

As to why there are fewer five-star reviews, PerfectRec provides two explanations. One could be that Apple made consistent improvements each year, but the iPhone 14’s level of improvement didn’t match expectations. The second explanation involves “reputation inflation” and its influence on the number of positive reviews submitted.

The second factor that may have contributed to gradually improving reviews is that consumers have generally been reviewing things more favorably over time. The trend of Reputation Inflation was first identified in online marketplaces by PerfectRec CEO Joe Golden in a 2022 economics paper co-authored with professors John Horton of MIT and Apostolos Filippas of Fordham University. It is possible that the habit of rating everything five stars – taught to consumers by apps like Uber, Airbnb and Etsy – has also spilled over into general product reviews.

Additionally, PerfectRec provides a chart showing the least to most popular iPhones.

iPhone 14 Review Data Table

Based on the chart, it appears the iPhone 5C had the lowest iPhone satisfaction rating of 64%. While the iPhone 13 Pro Max hit the peak of popularity at 86%.

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