By Don Reisinger
May 17, 2018

Samsung has released a new ad promoting its Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ smartphones and targeting the iPhone. But the iPhone version Samsung picked is rather odd.

In the ad, called “Moving On,” a woman with an iPhone 6 is seen waiting for her low-powered smartphone to perform a variety of tasks, like open apps, stream video, and more. But each step of the way, she comes across Galaxy S9s that are performing all those tasks with ease — while she waits for her iPhone to respond. The ad ends with the woman finally upgrading to Samsung’s Galaxy S9.

Take that, Apple.

Needless to say, there are some things in the ad to unpack here.

Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ launched earlier this year with many of the latest components you can bundle in today’s smartphones. Apple’s iPhone 6 was released in 2014 with all of the components you’d expect in a device that’s four years old.

That age difference alone might be enough to call foul on Samsung’s ad. Given how fast technology moves, is it really all that surprising that a smartphone that was launched in 2014 is slower to respond than a device that was launched in 2018?

In a statement to Fortune, Samsung made its argument by pointing to a recently released survey from mobile data analyst Ookla. That survey found that Samsung’s new Galaxy S9s offer download speeds over 4G networks that are much faster than any other handset on the market. In the case of the iPhone X, for instance, the Galaxy S9s offer average download speeds that are about 37% faster on American carrier networks.

That data, which was released by Samsung earlier this week, doesn’t get into detail on how Ookla performed its testing. Even so, the data point refers to a rather specific condition: download speeds on a 4G LTE carrier network in the U.S. between February and April 2018.

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If we look at benchmarking — again, not an exact science and methodology can be different, which can yield varied results— we could arrive at something dramatically different.

Over at Geekbench, a site that features a chart of the fastest smartphones on the market based on their processor performance, Samsung’s Galaxy S9s are far behind the iPhone. On a single-core test, the iPhone X earned a score of 4206. And on multi-core, its score topped 10125. Samsung’s best-performing Galaxy S9 device nabbed a single-core score of 3413. Its multi-core score hit 8694.

Again, benchmarks and speed tests are not an exact science. But if we’re going to pluck one data point, we should probably pluck some others, right?

And, if Samsung really wanted to make the argument that its Galaxy S9 is tops, why not put it up against the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X? At least then, it would be a fair fight.

Now, there’s one other side to this: Apple’s battery woes.

Samsung’s decision to include the iPhone 6 in the ad might have everything to do with rampant complaints at the end of last year that some of Apple’s legacy iPhones, including the iPhone 6, were suffering from performance problems because their batteries were getting old and Apple was ratcheting their performance to keep them running. Apple has since modified its policy and given users more control over battery performance. It’s also offered a battery upgrade program for $29, a $50 discount on its previous $79 upgrade.

Samsung’s ad could be calling attention to that in an effort to sway customers.

Either way, it’s an odd choice from Samsung. The Galaxy S9 is a fine smartphone buy in its own right. Maybe next time, it’d be better to focus on that, instead.


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