The TV ad in question, which began airing in March, showcases the smartphone's "radically new cameras with Portrait Lighting" and uses the phrasing, "Studio-quality portraits. Without the studio."
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was compelled to review two complaints filed by viewers "who believed that the phone could not achieve studio quality photography, and challenged whether the claim 'Studio-quality portraits' was misleading and could be substantiated."
In overruling the objections, the ASA said it had "considered consumers would understand the term 'studio-quality portraits' to mean that the lighting effects on the phone allowed the user to imitate a portrait photograph when taken in a studio".
We acknowledged that the camera on the iPhone X featured a focal lens commonly found in studio photography and understood that the images shown in the ad were photographs taken with the phone. We considered that the lighting effects that could be used when capturing and after having captured an image allowed the user to mimic a photograph similar to those taken in a studio.
We recognized that there were many effects, techniques and tools used in studio photography which played a vital role in capturing high standard images, many of which were not available to someone solely using the iPhone X. However, we recognized the emphasis was placed on the significance of the lighting effects on achieving the quality of image the ad demonstrated, and we understood that those images shown were a true reflection of the capabilities of the iPhone X’s camera. For those reasons, we concluded that the ad was not misleading.
In Apple's response to the finding, the company pointed out that there was no industry standard definition of "studio-quality portraits" and that there "were wide variances between techniques, equipment, lighting and talent," which led it to understand the term as a subjective one.
Apple stated that the 50 mm focal lens in the iPhone X was one of the most popular professional studio portrait lenses and the lighting options available on the phone mimicked what could be done in a studio.
Clearcast stated that they met Apple at the time the product was released for a demonstration of the product and found that the images in the ad were a fair reflection of the camera’s capabilities. They stated that “Studio-quality” was not an official, measurable term and that the quality of the photographs, to some extent, depended on the skill of the photographer.
This isn't the first time the British watchdog has looked at viewer complaints regarding Apple ads. In 2008, Android users took umbrage at an Apple ad that claimed "all parts of the internet are on the iPhone".
The reasoning behind the complaints was that Java and Flash content aren't supported on iPhone, therefore the claim was misleading. The complaint was upheld and the ad was banned in the U.K., as was another Apple ad that was adjudged to have exaggerated the speed of the iPhone 3G.