Modern smartphones take remarkably high-quality photos, but Huawei shows there’s still an incentive to fudge reality—and not for the first time. The company used a DSLR, a high-end digital camera, to capture images for an ad in Egypt that are set up to look as if the company’s Nova 3i phone was responsible for the shot.
While a digital-photography expert might have noticed certain giveaways, it wasn’t image detectives who made the discovery. Instead, it was a photo posted on Instagram by one of the actors in the shot, Sarah Elshamy, that showed the full setup.
Huawei’s slip-up is unfortunate, given the popular response earlier this year to the P20 Pro, a phone with three cameras with Leica lenses, that can produce enormous images and capture portrait shots with the background appearing out of focus. The Nova 3i has a dual-camera system on the front and back.
This isn’t the first time a smartphone maker has felt compelled to shoot outside the box. In 2012, sleuths figured out that Nokia had used a professional video rig to shoot part of an ad for its Lumia 920. (Nokia said it didn’t mean to mislead and reshot that part of the video.) And Huawei previously posted a photo taken by a high-end Canon DSLR with a misleading label that made it seem as if its P9 was used. (The company said the image was shot during a photoshoot for the P9, and it should have been clearer in the caption.)
Huawei said in a statement that its disclaimer at the end of the ad—which refers to “product characteristics and actual specifications” as well as “presentation contents”—absolves them of the subterfuge. But Cnet noted that the text refers to the phone and what appears on its screen, not presenting a photo as if it were taken by anything but the camera.