Survey: Over Half of Future Smartphone Buyers Pick Apple’s iPhone

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Mike Segar / Reuters

Apple's iPads and iPhones are displayed inside an Apple store in New York City on Dec. 7, 2011

If a new consumer survey’s right, Apple’s in for a bumper first quarter: ChangeWave Research questioned 4,000 likely smartphone buyers and found that over half said they planned to buy an iPhone in the next three months.

ChangeWave wanted to know which smartphone manufacturers were seeing the most interest post-holiday, so they asked 4,000 North American consumers planning to buy a smartphone in the next 90 days which one they’d pick. The result: 54%, or “better than one-in-two” said they planned to pick up an iPhone. That’s down 11 points from 65% in ChangeWave’s prior September survey, but still utterly destroying the competition (listed here as Samsung, Motorola, HTC and RIM/Blackberry). Even ChangeWave was surprised by Apple’s numbers, writing on the survey summary page that “Apple has never dominated smart phone planned buying to this extent more than two months after a major new release.” (The iPhone 4S was released on October 14, 2011 in the U.S.)

(MORE: iPhone 4S: The Buy Lines Are Still Long Outside Apple Stores)

Only Samsung managed double-digit numbers here — 13% of those surveyed said they’d pick up a Samsung-branded smartphone in the next three months. If that sounds trifling, it’s actually a significant 8-point leap for Samsung from the prior September survey. “This represents nearly a tripling of consumer interest in Samsung phones just since fall 2011,” says ChangeWave. The surge driver? The just-released Galaxy Nexus smartphone running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Also: Samsung updating its other phones to Android 4.0, says ChangeWave.

The numbers look pretty tough for everyone else: RIM’s down a point from September to just 2% (its lowest position since ChangeWave started measuring back in 2007), HTC’s down three points to 3% and Motorola’s up just two points to 7%.

Is Apple turning in record figures because customers believe the technology’s superior? ChangeWave didn’t ask, but it did survey customer satisfaction, finding that 75% of iPhone owners say they’re “very satisfied” with their iPhones. Contrast with Samsung and HTC (tied with 47%), Motorola (45%), LG (31%), Nokia (23%) and RIM (22%).

Rounding out with a look at operating system satisfaction, ChangeWave’s numbers offer no surprises: 75% are “very satisfied” with Apple’s iOS compared with 47% for Google Android, 32% Windows Phone OS, and 22% RIM OS.

MORE: First Look: Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham, Google+ or Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.