As iPad is killing it, Apple’s embattled iPhone is competing against the legions of Android handsets that have flooded the market. That shouldn’t come as a surprise: Carriers are promoting inexpensive Android devices left and right and they are literally everywhere. But how satisfied are Android and iPhone users with their handsets? According to a study of 515 smartphone owners conducted by UBS Research (via GigaOM), iPhone is “sticky” like no other phone, with an average retention rate of 89 percent.

It is falling rapidly for other vendors, though, and the next nearest hardware is HTC with a retention rate of 39 percent and 28 percent for Samsung. Android phones in general are at 55 percent. Nokia and Research in Motion are sinking really fast. The former saw its retention rate drop from 42 percent in March 2010 to just 24 percent and the latter dropped from 62 percent to 33 percent.

The survey may not be terribly accurate due to a small sample size, but it helps understand market trends. People are obviously happy with their iPhones and a large portion of users will happily stay within the Apple ecosystem. UBS concludes:

Demand for iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro remains robust, with a leading ecosystem that creates sticky demand.

Truth be told…

Android’s low stickiness could be due to its users being more comfortable changing handset manufacturers. Another interesting nugget that bodes well for Apple: Nearly one-third (31 percent) of polled Android users have plans to switch to an iOS device in the future. Also important, more than half the smartphone switchers are in the market for an iPhone while only one in ten iPhone users plan on defecting to other platforms.

Cross-posted on 9to5Google.com.

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