This Ad for Nokia's New Windows Phone Is Incredible—As In, Not Credible

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 6 2012 4:54 PM

This Ad for Nokia's New Windows Phone Is Literally Incredible

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The video quality in this new Nokia ad is unreal.

Screenshot / YouTube

Watch Nokia’s ad announcing its brand-new Windows phone, the Lumia 920, and you’ll see something truly unbelievable. A smiling young man and woman are pedaling their bicycles along a picturesque waterfront street, and the guy leans back and holds out his phone with one arm to record a video. That’s bound to be some shaky footage, right? Wrong! Thanks to Nokia’s next-generation “optical image stabilization” technology, the video comes out crisp and smooth. See for yourself:

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

Stunning, no? But wait, what’s that little yellow box in the top right that says “Simulation of iOS technology?” Well, that’s a little something Nokia added to the advertisement just yesterday—right after tech blog The Verge reported that the footage had been faked. A sharp-eyed Verge blogger spied a suspicious-looking reflection in the window of a trailer as the female actor pedaled past. It looked a lot like a white van with a cameraman standing in the doorway holding a big old professional video camera. (Check out The Verge’s edited version of the video for a close-up.)

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Nokia subsequently confirmed that the footage in the ad labeled “OIS ON” was not in fact shot with a Lumia. Today the company apologized in a blog post:

In an effort to demonstrate the benefits of optical image stabilization (which eliminates blurry images and improves pictures shot in low light conditions), we produced a video that simulates what we will be able to deliver with OIS. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but we should have posted a disclaimer stating this was a representation of OIS only. This was not shot with a Lumia 920. At least, not yet. We apologize for the confusion we created.

Attached to the blog post is a video that shows the phone’s actual capabilities—which are not too shabby, though also not nearly as Hollywood-ready as the ad implied.

But that hasn't quelled the backlash, especially now that blogger Youssef Sarhan has produced evidence suggesting that the still photos in that Nokia ad were faked too.

The Finnish firm is taking a beating for its bait-and-switch, and probably deservedly so. Let’s just hope this doesn’t lead to a lot of other distressing exposés about misleading TV ads. Imagine the shock if it were to come out that somebody beat Midas, Mikey didn’t like it, and the president of Hair Club for Men wasn’t also a client.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

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