Apple, with its stunningly popular iPhone, ranks highest in customer satisfaction among according to a report released today by J.D. Power.

The 2010 Wireless Smartphone Customer Satisfaction Study, which actually took place in the second half of 2009, queried 4,480 smartphone owners about how satisfied they were with their device in five key categories.

For smartphones, the researchers measured customer satisfaction in the following five categories: ease of operation (26%); operating system (24%); physical design (23%); features (19%); and battery function (8%).

On a 1,000 point scale, the average customer satisfaction score among smartphone owners was 753. Apple was the clear leader with a score of 810 by performing particularly well in the ease of operation, operating system, features and physical design categories. Apple’s weakest category, which is of little surprise to iPhone users was battery function. Next up in the rankings was RIM Blackberry at 741, followed by HTC (727), Samsung (724), Nokia (720) and Palm (712).

J.D. Power also found the highest rates of satisfaction were recorded by owners whose smartphones were equipped with touch screens rather than other input mechanisms.

Satisfaction scores among smartphone owners with a touch screen device scored 771 points, nearly 40 index points higher than among those whose smartphone uses other input methods, such as a text keyboard. Among smartphone owners, slightly more than half said their device was equipped with a touch screen.

"Touch screens are ideal for those using their phone for entertainment, as the displays are generally larger and provide a richer viewing experience," said Kirk Parsons, senior director of wireless services at J.D. Power and Associates.

Not surprisingly, researchers also found that mobile applications continue to enhance the smartphone user experience. Sixty percent say they downloade third-party games for entertainment, while 46 percent say they download travel software, such as maps and weather applications. Thirty-one percent say they download utility applications, while 26 percent say they download business-specific programs.

Discuss the findings of the report in Digital Home's Canadian Wireless forum.