By this point, it’s safe to say you can never assume that phone makers promote their phones using actual photos taken with the product that they are advertising. Is this false advertising? Only if a note explicitly says one thing and lies about it. Otherwise, is it up to interpretation?

This time, the photo in question is one that you can find on the Hong Kong version of Samsung’s Galaxy A8 Star landing page. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see it, describing Live Focus and how the user can manually adjust the bokeh effect to as little or as much as they want. Only, this photo wasn’t actually shot with the darn thing. shot by Dunja Djudjic

This is ironic because Samsung did the exact same thing with the Samsung Galaxy A8 earlier this year, in two tweets by Samsung Brazil. Apparently, posting a selfie to promote a smartphone that wasn’t taken with the actual phone and then watermarking “Samsung” in the photo isn’t false advertising in the eyes of Samsung. Those two tweets were eventually taken down.

The photographer, Dunja Djudjic, who shot the photo of herself, found out about this when she was notified that her photo was sold on Getty via EyeEm and immediately did a reverse photo search. Her initial reaction to using the photo “to fake their phone’s portrait mode”, was to “burst out into laughter”, not because of what Samsung did, but because of how photoshopped her face was.

Samsung's Live Focus reference Samsung's Live Focus reference
Samsung’s Live Focus reference

At the very least, it seems that Samsung did legally purchase the rights to use the photo, but what does that mean for advertising materials and ads when the photo shown wasn’t taken by the smartphone advertised but is clearly implied? Nothing apparently, this is nothing new and we can expect smartphone companies to keep doing this.

Perhaps some places with stricter consumer protection laws will start to buckle down on this kind of implied advertising. For what it’s worth, Samsung isn’t the only offender – Huawei has been caught doing the same thing with the Huawei Nova 3i and responded with a statement justifying the practice in a promotional video by reiterating that “the product shots are for reference only”.