Rantmodo: Apple's New iPhone Ads Are Technically Correct But Accurately Awful

Apple's new ad campaign focusing on the iPhone is an interesting reaction to the release of phones such as the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z and Samsung Galaxy S4. It's not, strictly speaking, composed of incorrect statements. It's just that some of them are awful.

Over the weekend, Apple launched a reinvigorated marketing push for the iPhone, centred around the idea that there's the iPhone, and then (apparently), there's "everything else", putting its smartphone up on a pedestal. That's natural marketing — nobody's going to come out and say that their top of the line product is inferior to its competitors, after all.

Apple keeps its cards close to its chest, so despite the never-ending rumour mill, there's no real way of saying when the next iPhone will launch, but I think it's fair to presume that it won't be in the next quarter or so. That gives HTC, Samsung, Sony, LG, Nokia and others more time to attack Apple's market position, so the strategy of talking up the existing model makes sense.

One unusual factor here is that that the new strategy is one that doesn't seem to have been adopted by Apple Australia. Head to the US site and to http://www.apple.com/iphone/why-iphone/ specifically, and you get the new campaign. Modify that to the .au domain, and you get a page not found. That's highly unusual for Apple, a company that usually goes for a global marketing campaign except when products aren't available within a given location. It's easy enough to buy an iPhone 5 in Australia, so its local omission is baffling.


What about the claims Apple makes for the iPhone? Here's my take on each of them in turn

iPhone has received eight straight J.D Power and Associates awards for customer satisfaction

Is it true? Yep, this checks out. You can imagine the outcry if Apple stated awards it hadn't won. Is it relevant? Not entirely. Look, Apple does do some good work when it comes to customer service around iPhone, and it would be daft to suggest otherwise. Still, those are US awards based around US customer service experiences, and if you read the small print, it states that they're based off 8,736 consumer responses measuring 8 manufacturers. Apple has sold millions of iPhones, so that's a very small sample of users, and the Australian marketplace split on smartphones (and indeed, available models) is different anyway. Perhaps that's why Apple Australia isn't (currently) running the page.

Every detail has been considered

Is it true? It depends what you think that means. Broadly, however, yes, it's also true.

Is it relevant? My issue with this isn't that Apple doesn't put a lot of work into its engineering, because it pretty clearly does do that. The thing is, its competitors do that too, and the headline is more or less designed to make you think that other smartphones perhaps cut corners to get into your hands.

Only iPhone has the Retina display.

Is it true? Sigh. Yes, it's true, but…

Is it relevant? Not that much. Again, this is very specific word choice. "Retina Display" is one of Apple's marketing terms, and it's one that doesn't even really have strict parameters. If you wanted to take the current iPhone 5, it has a pixel density of 326ppi. Do other smartphone have exactly the same ppi? I don't (off the top of my head, admittedly) think that they have that exact number, but there's more than a few that trounce that in a pure numbers game. Displays aren't solely about the ppi game though. As we've seen in Displaymate's rather exhaustive testing, the iPhone 5's screen is very nicely calibrated on the whole, but it's not unique in having a very good display screen.

Great battery life. Without a great big battery

Is it true? Maybe. Maybe not.

Is it relevant? Of course it's relevant — any smartphone without power is just a shiny brick — but the worldwide experience of iPhone batteries is a massively moveable feast. When I tested out the iPhone 5 myself, I was essentially happy with its battery life, but conversely, Luke pinpointed it as one of the worst features of the phone. Apple's having a sly dig here at phones such as the Galaxy Note II, which can pack in a big battery due to being large, but there are other smaller phones with impressive battery life, such as the Motorola RAZR M. Apple doesn't exclusively own the battery life/small phone space.

The A6 chip is powerful but not power hungry.

Is it true? Yep.

Is it relevant? I could almost repeat the answer given above; there are other smartphones packing power-sipping processors as well, although Apple's control of not only the software but also the hardware should give it an edge in terms of overall power design. The fact that so many iPhones do go flat daily suggests that this is an area that could use more work, not more boasting.

iPhone gives you ultrafast wireless and LTE

Is it true? Yep.

Is it relevant? In the context of other high end smartphones, and in particular to an Australian audience, not a single jot. Name me a high end smartphone sold in Australia right now that doesn't have LTE and 802.11n?

The world's most popular camera

Is it true? Probably.

Is it relevant? Apple seems to be basing this stat on Flickr usage, and Flickr isn't the entire world. That being said, I'd be inclined to believe there are more iPhone shooters than any other single model you'd care to name. However, popularity is not always a sign of quality, just that many people use it. Sadly in this day and age, cholera is still wide spread throughout many parts of the world. Does that make it a great disease?

Also, Apple's in dangerous territory here, as it touts that "other smartphones simply tout large amounts of megapixels, (but) taking great pictures is about so much more". That's true in the sense that megapixels aren't everything, but then again, there's the HTC One.

Millions of ways to be entertained. From one trusted source.

Is it true? Yep.

Is it relevant? Not as much as it used to be. Apple's app market lead has been slowly eroded — and it's not always a numbers game anyway, as there's only so many fart apps you actually need — and Apple's point that "Other mobile platforms have a myriad of fragmented store options, resulting in availability issues, developer frustration, and security risks" only goes so far. I haven't heard anyone complain about Windows Phone 8 malware, for example, and Google at least makes third party app stores disabled by default.

iOS 6. The world's most advanced mobile operating system

Is it true? I honestly don't know, but then Apple give no real metric.

Is it relevant? I guess that depends on what you mean by "advanced". This is mostly just marketing spin going over a few features such as Siri and Facetime (duplicated at least in part by competitors), direct updates (which other handsets manage once they pass carrier approval) and the number of apps available.

Only iPhone has Siri. Your wish is its command.

Is it true? The first sentence is true, but as for the second…

Is it relevant? Hang on, I'll try a little test.

"Siri, I want a Ferrari filled with unmarked banknotes" (hey, they did say my wish was its command)

This is what I got…

I'm still here writing this article, which means that it didn't actually happen. DAMN YOU SIRI, WHY MUST YOU GIVE ME EXCUSES???

Voice commands aren't unique to Apple, and as the above message shows, they're not immune to misinterpretation of the spoken word, either.

iCloud puts your content on all your devices

Is it true? I can't seem to find my photo stream on my toaster, but yeah, once again, it's not strictly speaking untrue.

Is it relevant? Ooh, cloud. If I had a drink for every time a vendor mentioned cloud, my liver would glow in the dark. Again, though, there's a myriad of choices here, and iCloud, despite Apple's promises, isn't entirely bulletproof when it comes to ease of use.

iPhone comes with something unique: Support from real people.

Is it true? Yes, once you can get them.

Is it relevant? This one I'll give Apple outright; while its annoying to have to line up Genius appointments when things go wrong, the facility is there to have a face to face with a support person. The quality of Geniuses can vary a lot — at least in my own anecdotal experience — but Apple does do a lot (and spend a lot) on customer service — as long I suppose as you don't get an outright dodgy Genius. Samsung has launched two stores in Australia that should offer the same kind of service, but otherwise you're stuck with going back to the phone store you got the phone from, and that's often a real gamble for anything but an outright dead phone.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think the iPhone 5 is a bad phone by any measure. Indeed, it's still an exceptionally good choice amongst a number of other choices. Apple's free to market its smartphone as it sees fit, but doing so by veiled comparison to other smartphone vendors and models does just as much to draw attention to the alternatives as it does to toot their own money-filled horn.

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Comments

    I've been an iPhone user for quite a while now. I can honestly say that I don't think I'll be getting an iPhone when my contract ends.

      I went through it with iPhone 3gs and Optus. Both were horrible. Optus dropped out and my phone would randomly turn off before I had it for a year.

      Dropped both like a bad habit.

        I had the same issue with Optus, but the 3Gs worked flawlessly on Telstra. Except for the fact every time Apple released an update it made the phone considerably slower.

        Don't most people hang onto bad habits and continually try to justify them?

          I don't know most people to answer that.

    Not a fan of Apple marketing - never have been. But then, why if some people find it such an issue (such as myself and the author), do they get such great success? Opinions, please.

      The same reason why people like fake Apple pages on Facebook. Do the math.

      I suspect it has a lot to do with two things:

      1. Pretty packaging/marketing
      2. The sheep theory. My friend has one, so I'll get one.

        Sheep theory applies just as much to Android/samsung.

        ANY marketing campaign can be torn apart and proven mostly wrong, especially in a massively competitive industry such as the smartphone one.

          Perhaps.

          I honestly can't say I've seen such blind love for a product than Apple fans.

            It's pretty bad on both sides of the fence. Fanboys will be fanboys no matter where they go, or what company they attach themselves to.

            Your kidding? You must be an android fanboy then. Everyone winnings about people buying into the apple ecosystem, but now there's a f*ck load of people doing the exact same thing with samsungs massive product line. Android fan boys are just as bad as apple fanboys. Either way they both think that android/apples shit doesn't stink.

              When people are lining the streets everywhere at the android shop (which don't exist) for the next android (of which there are multiple), I might consider it.

                Thats because there are no Android shops. Your comparison is immediately invalid. Try using your brains!?

                  Yeah, my comparison is perfectly apt. There is no demand/need/desire for an android shop because there aren't ravaging fandroids lining the streets wanting to newest Android like the Apple fanbois do.

                  But let's focus on my brain instead of the issue at hand, seeing as you have nothing useful to add it seems.

                  So basically according you there are apple stores because of fanbois? So then i guess by your logic, theres no android fanbois because theres no droid stores? Think you just proved my fanboi argument right :)

      It's all about perception vs reality. It's why Australians think that a VW Golf is a premium hatchback when most Germans think of it as a competitor for Daewoo or Ssangyong. We are a very wealthy country and our middle class has buying power never seen before. Just go shopping and see how many formerly premium products are now mainstream. Middle class Australians want the premium device/experience and Apple has created teh perception that they're a provider of it over many years.

      You can even see the influence of it in Alex's critical article. Apple is not the only phone vendor offering face-to-face service. Go into any Telstra, Optus or Vodphone store and you'll get exactly the same, no appointment necessary. Or if you bought a Sony handset, go into a Sony store (before they all shut down). Even Harvey Norman have in-store support where you can talk to a tech guy face-to-face. There is nothing at all premium about the service Apple provide but the perception remains that they do more. If you want a taste of real premium service, buy a Dell XPS or Precision product.

      Last edited 18/03/13 2:09 pm

        "Exactly the same"? No, not in every single store. There's plenty that simply have sales staff attached -- which isn't to say that there aren't some very clued in, excellent staffers at telco stores, but the point of a dedicated tech support staff is that this is what they do, not sales. Diluting the function makes it harder for you to get them when you want them.

          Harvey Norman has dedicated tech staff. e.g. When I was asking whether it would be possible to upgrade the SDD in a Toshiba ultrabook, they actually took the display model into their workshop (in store) and pulled it to bits to see if it could be done (it could). I've also found the sales guys in Optus and Virgin stores to be very helpful in sorting out issues with my handsets, even those I bought on eBay.

            MM -author is referencing manufacturer direct support stores which will see you no matter which carrier/merchant the i-device originated

            While some merchant's staff may indeed fix a tech issue from a device from an alternate merchant, I'd be equally expecting them to refuse

            Apple/Samsung will 'remedy' their respective device's issue no matter the origin

              No he isn't, he is talking about levels of service. The inference is that Apple can do it better because of their stores, I was pointing out that it is not necessarily the case. And Harvey Norman will fix anything you bring into them, Apple will only fix Apple devices.

              Of course Dell do it even better because they come to you and fix it on-site or courier you a replacement part within hours, so even when we are talking about manufacturer direct support, Apple's is still, at best, middle-of-the-road.

      Apple are like a band.

      They used to be that band most people didn't listen to. Slightly counter-culture, slightly elitist - users were part of slightly exclusive 'club' - and people used to pay extra just for that 'status'.

      Fast forward ten years, and a hell of a lot more people have iPods, iPhones, MacBooks. Everyone's heard their song. You hear them in the background of TV promos, you hear them in shops.

      They've gone mainstream. Their new stuff isn't as good as their old stuff, and everyone's listening to them. They're just not worth the money.

        So based on that, Apple is to what Metallica is to heavy metal then.

          kind of..... Apple have had their share of Load, Reload and St. Anger.... but it seems they are still stuck on the latter. No Death Magnetic for them anytime soon if they keep going the way they are :P

    The advertising smells like defence. They are trying to buy time.

    The retina display one is the one that really has me scratching my head. "Only iPhone has the Retina display." That's all well and good, but that's okay, nearly every new high-end phone has a better display anyway.

      Exactly. Since when does it matter if your product has something you named yourself? Only VWs have VW badges. Only Cadbury has purple packaging. Who cares?!

        Violet Crumble is made by Nestle :P

          Violet crumble has violet packaging

            touche... although that's how rectangular shapes got dangerous in the wrong hands ;)

    I had a iPhone 3G and did not like the small screen and how it became slower with each update. Went to a Galaxy S3 and never look back, love this phone though to be fair, I notice it too is getting a bit laggy for some reason.

      I'm on 4.1.2 official and I find pretty minimal lag. Just look at everything that's running, ch eck if your wifi/3g/4g/lte is on. Check your brightness and blutooth.

      I have an S2, and found it was getting laggy. The I wiped the handset (for other reasons) and its working beautifully again. I suspect that one the updates to Android didn't work so well.

      The iPhone 3G came out in 2008. It's a terrible phone by todays standards. What were you expecting?

    So a company makes an advertising campaign that promotes the features of its products truthfully and simply without fluff like half naked women, people in togas, or deer running through a city? Who'd of thought that would happen.

      Is this a hypothetical? There are no companies in this article that match your description.

    Counter Rant

    The Galaxy SIII is marketed as being "Designed for humans". Well duh! Who else are they going to be designed for? Sloths perhaps? I mean are they trying to say that their competitors design phones for something other than humans?

    What about the original Galaxy Note? "It moves you" What the heck does that mean? Is the Galaxy Note actually a hoverboard? Will it replace my car?

      Samsung's marketing for the Galaxy has always been about having digs at Apple. 'Designed for humans' is meant to imply that it's not designed for sheep. Which is apparently what iPhone users are.

      To be honest, the only reason I'm still with Apple is because I'm too lazy to learn a new OS, I've spent a bit of money on iPhone apps, and because owning a Mac makes updating and syncing everything really painless. I've got about 18 months left on my contract, and by that time hopefully the Windows app store will have matured enough that I can get myself a nokia.

      as a note 2 owner I can answer this question

      Yes it is actually big enough to be a hoverboard

      I think the Idea is that it has been designed for use by humans. Rather then Apple making something that looks nice sitting on a table, but doesn't really feel that nice in the hand.

      'Design for humans' means they've designed it (supposedly) to be more ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing. They wouldn't assume ear holes are perfect circles, and that the most comfortable shape to hold is a flat rectangle.

      Wait, why am I explaining this? You do realise that not all advertising slogans are meant in a literal sense, right?

        You do realise that not all Gizmodo comments are meant to be serious, right?

          Oh, my bad. I couldn't tell you were actually making a joke.

          Hilarity.

        Then why do we have something called false advertising?

    Maybe they should have just insulted people who buy Samsung products and called it a day.

    iPhones are for old people.

      I'd have said they were for girls. I don't think you would find a single female employee at Channel 9 with any other handset, unless they are clinging to their old Blackberry device, whereas the blokes have a mix of Android and iPhone.

        Probably for it to work reasonably....

        It was a ground breaker once, wasn't lagging then

        Unfortunately I am noticing that many ads on TV have either an iPhone or iPad in them, you know, to get the iSheep to connect with that brand.

    Yeah the only people I know with a iphone are old people , the technologically retarded , dense people who fall for hype and marketing and the freaky ipeople who bow before Steve Statues.
    I still know people who use them and say what a piece of crap it is and then say "but I will get the next one because it can't be bad".

      I think you need to meet some more people.

      My name is Michael, I turn 27 on Wednesday (See, not old) and I am an iPhone user. I am a professional database developer (certified too) and I think Steve Jobs was a bit of an asshole.

      23, IT. Nice false generalisation.

        Does moloko know you? If not, then it is entirely plausible that his statement is 100% correct.

      Right. So I guess the two million techheads with jailbroken iPhones, running a myriad of system tweaks, are all elderly sheep who have no idea what they are doing right?

      Your generalisation is about as stupid as saying "all black people play basketball and like rap music".

        36 hydraulics engineering purchasing manager, male

        Lift weights, watch footy and drink beer!

        Real Aussie men use iPhones...

          Real Aussie men don't need to justify their citizenship or masculinity with a phone brand.

    The worst iPhone ad I remember is the one when the iPhone 5 came out that asked the question "How can something be bigger, yet smaller?" because the iPhone 5 was bigger(taller) and smaller(thinner)

    The answer the the question is common sense, squish something, it will get thinner, but also taller/wider

      Earpods. "Ears aren't round so why make round earphones?" Don't know but Apple did make and ship round ones with iPods for just over 11 years.
      Panorama photo shot. 'Look. We made something thats been available on 3rd part apps as standard now'.
      Siri. 'We bought out this 3rd party developer, killed off the original Siri and made it an exclusive release feature'.

        But I will admit while I love my iPad, its most frustrating feature is the iOS's highly un-customisable homepage UI that side by side looks and feels like its still stuck in 2007.

      What and the Samsung crap with the moron and his birthday cake and people all over the world blow him pic kisses was an award winner??
      Only advantage is the made up pretty lil blonde who I'd smash till her ears are worn down by her ankles

    I am not an Apple user but this article is doing the very thing it is accusing Apple of - half-truths:

    eg "The thing is, its competitors do that too," - True, but also not true - how many Android tablets and phones are out are just rubbish devices.

    Another example: "Do other smartphone have exactly the same ppi? I don’t (off the top of my head, admittedly)" Why O Why wouldn't you do some research before making display an issue. If Apple has the best display then let's just say they do and move on.

    I know the fan boy wars and words will never end but can we please move closer to giving credit where credit is due. There's lots to like about the iPhone 5 and there's lot to like about the high end Android/WP phones and there's to lots to dislike about the low end stuff - a market that Apple has not even entered (yet?). So let's compare the best with the best and appreciate the beauty of both.

      They don't have the best though. They have retina, which they defined a X pixels per square inch. With all the handsets out there, there might be one with that exact PPI, but we'll give apple the benefit of the doubt. However, there are a bunch of phones with far hire PPI AND bigger screens to boot!

        And realistically there's sweet stuff all visual difference....

          There is. Some people might see it easier if they put them side by side, but there's a noticeable visual difference.

            Are you saying I'm going blind AND stoopid in my old age.....

            :-)

        Couldn't agree more - your point is correct. My issue is that this article is doing the very thing they are accusing Apple of, half-truths. So I wonder, is this article subtlety saying, "You did the right thing Apple." If the author does the same thing are they not promoting the advertising technique?

    I live in Townsville. Can i get in to see a genius without having to drive for 15 hours or get on a plane?

    Didn't think so.

    iPhone comes with something unique: Support from real people.

    FAIL!

      The article says One unusual factor here is that that the new strategy is one that doesn’t seem to have been adopted by Apple Australia

      It's possible that one reason for this is that Apple stores are not as widespread in Australia as they are in the US.

      Dude the year I lived there I couldn't get siht from anywhere!! FNQ logistics are a world of difference when you have city expectations

      Tho you guys have The Strand, god bless it and my discretely hidden beer drinking spot! :-)

      I won't even start on the pot situation!!!

    That whole page was cringe worthy. Lost it at "only the iPhone has retina display".

    I'm really tired of companies constantly taking shots at one another in advertising . Its not just apple, its all of them.
    Promote your phone for what it has, not for what every one else doesn't have.

    Ugh - what a terrible ad. They are calling out a lot of features and wording them in a way that makes them sound unique to the iPhone. It's like saying only the iCar comes with 4 iWheels - the whole page is disingenuous, and reeks of a desperation to remain relevant.

    I find this interesting, as this ad came out the day after the Galaxy S4 was released, and Phil Schiller's "Androids are free replacements for better feature phones like the iPhone 5" comment happened the day before the announcement.

    I'd say this is a swipe at Samsung, no mistake. Here Sammy sits, with a phone that some journalists are saying could give Samsung an even bigger market share, and a possible pending retrial over the Apple vs. Samsung fight due to the jury being too hasty, damages awarded for non-infringing devices and patents being withdrawn, while Apple is dealing with flack from Apple Maps, the lackluster adoption of Passbook (in Australia at least?) and a few other things I may have missed.

    Of course Apple is going to be pissed, throw down the controller and shout "No fair! You cheated! I'm telling mum! You're an ugly shit-head! I hate you!"

    I saw a HP ad on a bus shelter. I look forward to gizmodo pulling it apart line by line.
    I saw a Microsoft ad on a website. I look forward to gizmodo pulling it apart line by line.
    I saw an Asus ad in a computer magazine. I look forward to gizmodo pulling it apart line by line.
    My wife's Toshiba laptop has stickers all over it, which are basically ads for itself. I can send a photo if it helps gizmodo to pull it apart line by line.
    I look forward to all this but I won't hold my breath.
    Bring on the next Apple ad...

      Gizmodo did cover HTC and Sony ads that were launched in direct response to the Galaxy S4 launch, feel free to find and read the coverage at your leisure. To the best of my knowledge, none of the companies you mentioned created their ad campaigns in response to the release of the GS4, so why would Gizmodo cover them now?

    I own a lot of Apple gear so I guess I'm one of those locked in users. Should add I own lots of tech gear in general but my main (non-gaming gear) is Apple.

    I like the fact that competitors are beginning to overtake Apple in the hardware and software design of smartphones. I was using mobiles well before the first iPhone and it truly was a revolution.

    So bring it on. If it makes Apple lift their game then all the better for me. I can stick with their gear and not have to migrate to another platform.

    If they fall too far behind then I'll make the change.

    Right now it would be a marginal improvement to go Android over my iPhone 5.

    As consumers we all benefit through healthy competition.

    I love new technology and I hope Apple steps it up a notch.

    If I do have to change then I have no doubt I'll enjoy getting to know the ins and outs of whichever device I go with.

    Either way, good times!

    (As for their Ads... A company making dubious claims... Unheard of!)

    Article is kinda pointless IMHO... You can pick apart every marketing campaign. They all bullshit, they all talk themselves up, they all conveniently leave out the whole story...

    Advertising is meant to inform, which by what the article says, it does quite well. The problem is the ad doesn't make you care and this is what Apple used to be good at.

    I'm skeptical of anyone who claims their product is "magical".

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