Report: iPhone Satisfaction Sees Biggest Decline in a Decade

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority


  • Economists and data scientists have reviewed more than 669,000 user-generated iPhone reviews over a 13-year period.
  • The researchers found that the iPhone 14 is the biggest disappointment in a decade.
  • It is the first time since 2012 that user satisfaction has fallen.

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

According to PerfectRec, a product review site, it partnered with economists and data scientists to analyze more than 669,000 user-generated iPhone reviews. These reviews span the last 13 years of the iPhone, starting with the iPhone 4. The results showed that the iPhone 14 is perhaps the biggest disappointment in a decade.

Here is 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 were five stars. The base model iPhone is typically Apple’s best-selling model of any generation and receives the most user-generated reviews. During this period, the share 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. Apart from the iPhone 5 and iPhone 12, every phone saw an increase in user sentiment over the years. It seems that the number of five-star reviews for the base model iPhone has increased from 65% to a maximum of 80%.

However, the base iPhone 14 saw an eight-point drop in five-star reviews, to 72%. This would be the first drop in public perception since the switch 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 wasn’t the only one either. It seems that the entire iPhone 14 family has gone backwards. The 14 Pro also had an eight-point drop, from 84% to 76%.

iPhone 14 Review line chart 3

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

iPhone 14 Review line chart 4

PerfectRec gives two explanations for why there are fewer five-star reviews. It could be that Apple made consistent improvements every year, but the iPhone 14’s level of improvement fell short of expectations. The second explanation concerns ‘reputation inflation’ and its influence on the number of positive reviews submitted.

The second factor that may have contributed to the gradual improvement of ratings is that consumers have generally become more favorable over time. The reputation inflation trend was first identified in online marketplaces by Joe Golden, CEO of PerfectRec, in a 2022 economics paper co-authored with MIT professors John Horton and Fordham University Apostolos Filippas. It’s possible that the habit of rating everything with five stars—taught to consumers by apps like Uber, Airbnb, and Etsy—has spilled over into general product reviews, too.

In addition, PerfectRec provides a chart of least to most popular iPhones.

iPhone 14 Review data table

Based on the chart, it seems that the iPhone 5C had the lowest iPhone satisfaction score at 64%. While the iPhone 13 Pro Max reached the peak of popularity with 86%.

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