Apple iPhone rapped for false web speed claims'Misleading' Apple iPhone advert taken off the air

27 November 2008

3G iphone

The second-generation iPhone 3G

Apple has been ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to take a TV advert claiming 'really fast' internet speeds for its new iPhone 3G off the air.   

The ASA ruling follows complaints about the Apple iPhone 3G advert by 17 viewers who said that that the ad for the new iPhone was misleading because it exaggerated the web speed of the iPhone 3G.

Apple iPhone 3G advert

The Apple iPhone 3G ad stated: 'So what's so great about 3G? It's what helps you get the news, really fast. Find your way, really fast. And download pretty much anything, really fast. The new iPhone 3G. The internet, you guessed it, really fast.'

The ad showed a close-up of the iPhone 3G handset being used to surf a news webpage, view the Google maps service and download a file, with the user waiting just a fraction of a second for each action. 

Text on the screen said: 'Network performance will vary by location'.

Apple defends iPhone claims

Apple UK said of the Apple iPhone 3G ad that it was intended to compare the new 3G model with its 2G predecessor, and the claims were 'relative rather than absolute in nature'.

As such, Apple UK said the implication that the 3G iPhone allowed 'really fast' downloads and internet access in comparison to the previous generation was not misleading. Apple UK also claimed that most viewers of the Apple iPhone 3G ad were mobile users, who would understand that performance would vary and that details in the ad for the iPhone 3G had been simplified to allow an illustration of the iPhone 3G. 

Apple added that that the text stating 'network performance will vary by location' underlined the possibility of variations in performance.

iPhone 3G speed reality

However, the ASA upheld the complaints about the Apple iPhone 3G ad, ordering that the iPhone TV ad must not appear again in its current form.

The advertising regulator noted that many viewers might not be fully aware of the technical differences between the new Apple iPhone 3G and the previous version of Apple's iPhone, and said the ad for the new iPhone did not give an explicit indication of a comparison between the new iPhone 3G and the older iPhone.

It said the ad for the Apple iPhone 3G was likely to lead viewers to believe that the new iPhone actually operated at or near to the internet speeds shown in the ad.

The ASA concluded: 'Because we understood that [the iPhone 3G] did not [operate at these internet speeds], we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead.'

Which? thoughts on iPhone 3G 

Which? technology editor Matt Bath says: 'With the media hype surrounding the Apple iPhone 3G, it seems that Apple may have gotten carried away in how it presents its Apple iPhone 3G download speeds claim. 

'Consumers are right to expect mobile internet device makers to be clear about the real-world experience of browsing the internet that shoppers are likely to get when they buy an iPhone 3G.'

If you're tempted by a new iPhone 3G, read the Which review of the iPhone 3G and see our video of it in action. Or if the iPhone 3G's not for you but you fancy a new mobile handset, the Which? mobile phones review has detailed assessments of all the latest mobile phones from major manufacturers like Nokia and Samsung. 

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