We’ve all come to expect a certain degree of fantasy in commercials, but sometimes the make-believe goes too far and ends up a rather blatant lie. That was the case with a recent advertisement for the Huawei Nova 3, which purports to show off the power of its AI camera. However, a behind-the-scenes snapshot revealed the truth: The example photos in the ad were taken with a DSLR camera.
The Nova 3 is a non-US phone that has just launched in markets like China and the Middle East. It sports an iPhone-style screen notch along with a Kirin 970 ARM chip. That’s the same system-on-a-chip (SoC) Huawei used in recent flagship phones like the Mate 10 Pro and P20 Pro. In addition to eight ARM CPU cores, the 970 has a dedicated AI processing core, which Huawei uses to perform on-device object recognition in the camera.
The ad follows a couple through their day of poorly timed selfies in order to show how adaptable the Nova 3’s camera is. At one point, the man wants to get a selfie with his gal, but she doesn’t have any makeup on. He assures her everything will be fine and takes the photo. Lo and behold, Huawei’s Beauty AI feature saved the day by softening her features. This processing technique is not unique to Huawei phones, but the AI is supposed to make Huawei’s version smarter.
However, the photo in the ad is not representative of the phone’s capabilities. It’s actually an edited shot from a DSLR camera. We know that thanks to an image posted on Instagram by the Sarah Elshamy, the female actress in the ad. In that image (see above), you can see her male co-star reaching out in the typical selfie pose, but there’s no phone in his hand. Instead, there’s a high-end DSLR camera on a tripod pointing right at the couple.
Elshamy has since deleted the photo from her Instagram, but not before internet sleuths realized something was amiss. It’s not unusual for ads to use “simulated images” to demonstrate a device’s capabilities, but they’re clearly marked as such. In addition, the editing of the ad strongly suggests the photos are really from the camera — there’s a quick cut from the video to a still image with different framing.
Huawei has not responded to requests for comment, but it will most likely issue a halfhearted apology like it has in the past when caught in similar advertising lies.
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