Smartphone manufacturers are no strangers to cunning marketing techniques because they aim to draw attention to their products and get more sales in the process. Some of the more prominent strategies we have introduced before include photo forgery, benchmark cheating, and misleading rendering.
However, these are not the only examples of rough marketing we have seen before. Here are seven surprising smartphone marketing strategies that we have encountered in the past few years. You can view our previous list of shady smartphone marketing tips in the link.
1. Pay attention to trade-in pricing
There is no inherent error in listing trade-in pricing-if you keep trading on old phones, smartphone brands will lower the price of new devices. However, when you visit their online store, a company like Samsung automatically sets trade-in pricing as the default option and removes the RRP to give the impression of a more traditional cash savings. The problem arises. Check out the screenshot above to see what we mean.
This feels bad because brands try to make their phones look like traditional cash discounts. It would be better if both trade-in and full pricing were listed, or if the company actually marked the trade-in price in the same area for immediate clarity.
Another marketing technique we have seen is that the company provides promotional pricing and then less prominently or completely hide the appropriate price in the marketing/news materials. Similarly, there is nothing wrong with promotional pricing itself, but the company can be more transparent about actual pricing.
2. Unable to buy advertising models
Another thing we saw was the company promoting smartphone models that you can’t actually buy. The most prominent example we saw in 2021 was OnePlus promoting the 128GB OnePlus 9 Pro in North America for $969.
Unfortunately, the company postponed and cancelled the release of this variant, blaming it for chipset supply issues. This means that users have to spend $1,069 for the 256GB OnePlus 9 Pro option, resulting in a price increase of $100. OnePlus did the same for the Nord 2 in India, announcing the 6GB/128GB version for the market, but in fact it only offers 8GB/128GB or higher.
If the chip shortage is indeed the cause, we do have some sympathy, but this is still a disappointing turn of events. After all, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) get good PR for announcing a low base price, but what’s the point if you can’t actually buy the device at that price in the first place?
3. Focus on meaningless indicators
Another marketing technique used by smartphone brands is to focus on useless metrics in order to stand out. For example, in 2020, Samsung provided a 100x “space zoom” on its Galaxy S20 Ultra, thus making progress in this regard.
Samsung is not the only mobile phone manufacturer that offers absurd but low-quality zoom levels, because we have seen companies like Xiaomi use 120x digital zoom on the Mi 10 Ultra to raise the stakes. Again, this is an almost useless feature that feels like it was added, so the company can say it beats Samsung (and the marketing synergy of 120Hz screen and 120W charging).
We also see companies such as Oppo and Xiaomi focusing on features such as 120W or 100W charging speed. This is not entirely meaningless, because in some cases, you can indeed recharge in less than 20 minutes. But these speeds usually result in a higher rate of battery degradation. Even 50W to 65W charging can still provide ultra-fast recharge time without putting too much pressure on the battery over time.
4. Best and No. 1 qualification statement
The strategy that has existed for many years is that companies tend to claim qualified first/best. In other words, the brand claims to have a very specific first or best marketing purpose.
Sony is one of the most prominent supporters of this strategy in the past few years because it claim Xperia Z2 has “the best waterproof smartphone camera and camcorder in the world”. On the one hand, waterproof mobile phones were not common at the time, but it still feels that the company is competing for the title of “the best in the world.”
Check: Android Authority(Almost) The first big book on all smartphones!
We have also seen some brands touting qualified firsts, such as Realme touting India’s first mobile phone SoC with specific budgetSimilarly, Realme may not be the first to truly offer phones equipped with this chipset globally, but hope that a company says they are the first to do something-even if this is not much in the broader context Meaning-it will indeed be out of date.
One of the most annoying marketing practices these days is to add “AI” to the name of each function. Many manufacturers have committed this behavior, covering everything from hardware functions to software functions.
We have seen several brands do this for their “AI camera” mode, which basically boils down to smarter scene and object recognition. Of course, machine learning is used here, but scene recognition has existed for many years anyway. Nonetheless, this does not prevent the company from offering the “artificial intelligence” model or the “artificial intelligence camera” brand.
We have seen many brands add AI to the name of the function, and it has fully demonstrated that any AI intelligence is working.
We have also seen companies like ASUS offer “artificial intelligence charging”, which adjusts the charging speed of mobile phones based on previous charging habits. At the same time, other mobile phone brands are referred to as smart charging or optimized battery charging for short. It can be said that the company reached the “peak” in this regard on the Zenfone 5Z in 2018. The phone provides AI charging, AI Boost (a performance function), AI Scene (scene recognition), AI Ringtone (adjust the ringtone volume according to environmental noise), and AI Photo Learning (recommended editing). sigh.
Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, LG and other companies also touted “AI face unlock“And “AI portrait” modes actually just mean that they are using software algorithms. Perhaps the idea is that adding “AI” to the name will make people forget that these are not hardware-driven functions (such as 3D face unlocking).
6. Fabricate performance data
We previously introduced benchmark cheating in the first compendium of problematic smartphone marketing techniques, but this entry focuses on different types of performance issues. More specifically, we have seen some companies provide cutting-edge chips in their flagship phones, but actively throttling these devices for battery life.
Probably the biggest example ever is Apple’s Batterygate, which witnessed iPhone manufacturers quietly limiting old iPhones with battery aging. In this way, the company can get better battery life on phones that use old batteries.
Again, this is not a problem in principle, especially when you have not noticed any performance-related issues. The problem is that these companies are not always transparent about this approach, which basically prevents consumers from using all the power they can use. The OnePlus case is particularly interesting because you might ask what is the point of buying a brand new, powerful phone when the heavy CPU cores are not even used in many applications.
7. Renew the promise as a marketing prop
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
Outside of Google, Samsung is now the king of Android updates, providing four-year security patches and three-year operating system updates. This commitment applies to flagship products released after 2019, foldable devices, tablets, and even the last two generations of selected Galaxy A series models (such as Galaxy A51 and above, Galaxy A71 and above, Galaxy A90 and above) .
There is no doubt that Samsung is benefiting from this move, and several other manufacturers have also announced revised and updated policies. Unfortunately, brands like Oppo, Vivo, and even OnePlus are inferior to Samsung in terms of implementation—so much that they feel a bit like cheap PR initiatives.
In Oppo’s case, the Find X3 series will receive three years of operating system updates, but last year’s Find X2 series or any mid-range device will be missed. At the same time, vivo revealed that the upcoming X70 series will receive three-year operating system upgrades, but the X60 series or mid-end products launched earlier this year will not be so lucky. OnePlus-the traditional leader in software promises-recently stated publicly that OnePlus 8 series and higher will receive three years of operating system updates and four years of security patches, but this does not apply to its Nord series and others Cheap mobile phone.
Although disappointing, we can understand to a certain extent why the brand will limit the three operating system updates to flagship phones considering the cost of these devices. On the other hand, it’s hard to think of Oppo and Vivo’s approach as a way to win easy praise for upcoming products while ignoring their flagship products that are less than a year old.
This is what we think of seven more dubious marketing techniques from smartphone manufacturers. Is there anything else you want to add to the list? Please tell us below.