Samsung’s latest commercial, “Screen Envy,” is designed to attack the one new feature that iPhone users have been waiting for over the last two years: a wider display. Apple’s iPhones were once 3.5 inches diagonally, but Cupertino increased its display size with the 4-inch iPhone 5.
It’s nearing two years now, but Apple’s still failed to increase its iPhone display size to one that many consumers can live with. An Apple developer friend of mine’s told me over and over again that he can’t wait for Apple to provide a larger screen in the iPhone 6. It’s likely the case that he’ll be the first one to stand in line and wait to get his hands on Apple’s next-generation iPhone. I think he’ll love both the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 screens – either size’ll please him.
While there’re many who feel like my Apple developer friend, few have placed this theme into a commercial. Who better than Samsung Electronics, Apple’s direct smartphone rival in the mobile space?
Samsung’s been known for its anti-Apple commercials that you either love or hate (depending on which company you like best), but one thing can’t be denied: the company’s studied the weakness of its rival and knows where Apple’s iPhone experience falls short. Does Apple’s iPhone experience fall short of where it should be? If you’re an Android fan, you know the answer to this question. The question isn’t a rhetorical one, either – it bears some answer, some time, some deliberation.
The name of the new Samsung commercial is “Screen Envy,” and it’s all about the hope iPhone users have regarding the iPhone 6 rumors currently in circulation. Two guys are sitting together, one using the Galaxy S5, the other using an iPhone. The iPhone user says to the Galaxy S5 user, “Dude, the iPhone might be getting a bigger screen” – as though a wider display is an achievement (it’s not; lots of smartphone manufacturers have done it before now). The Galaxy S5 user responds, “That hasn’t happened yet?,” all the while consumed with his on-screen experience.
The Samsung narrator in the background says, “You know that thing you’ve been waiting on for the last two years, and how it’s ‘sposed to be awesome and how it’s gonna blow your mind? Well it’s been here this whole time – but maybe you just like waiting. It’s everything you’ve been waiting for: 5.1 inches of Full HD on the Samsung Galaxy S5.” In the background, we hear the GS5 user say to the iPhone user, “well, you must be happy,” with the iPhone user posing a rather artificial grin to mask his unhappiness and discontent with his current iPhone display.
There’re a number of iPhone users who would look at this commercial and laugh about it and say, “Yeah, Samsung’s got it right.” A large number of Android users (Samsung fans, in particular) would say the same thing. There’re some iPhone users, however, who’d get angry or annoyed by the “Screen Envy” commercial and say that it’s the desperate attempt of an Apple rival to hype its own products while pulling down the iPhone – “typical Samsung,” I’ve heard it said before.
And yet, the question never fades: is the commercial true? Is it pointing out something that lies within reality? I think so. Even if you think the iPhone is better, it’s true that some iPhone users want a larger screen (and Apple’s increasing its display size because of this inner desire of a number of iPhone users). Apple so much as admitted this during the most recent Apple/Samsung trial, when documents appeared with Apple saying that “customers want what we don’t have” in the context of wider displays. In fact, Apple’s known for years that it’s iPhones were sub-par in the display department.
Whether you like the commercial or not, you can’t deny that Samsung’s commercial will hit a nerve with some iPhone users because it’s true. Plain and simple.
Is Screen Envy all there is to the Apple-Samsung rivalry?
I think that Samsung is right to point out one area in which the iPhone fails when compared to its own Galaxy series. It’s true: Samsung emerged with a larger screen in the Galaxy S3, a phone that’s now two years old. The Galaxy S3 had a 4.8-inch display, and, even with Apple increasing the iPhone 6 display, the lowest model will have a 4.7-inch screen (which is still smaller than the Galaxy S3’s but matches that of last year’s HTC One M7). And, with Apple’s track record, the company’ll likely maintain the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 form factor for a few more years – or never increase the display size again.
However, there’s more to the Apple-Samsung rivalry than just a larger screen or smaller screen. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say that it’s but one of many factors that separate the two phones. A number of tech analysts have said in recent days that Samsung should be troubled because of Apple’s commitment to bring a larger screen to the iPhone 6, but should they? Not at all. In fact, a number of Samsung users are committed to the Galaxy line because it offers a lot more than Apple’s iPhone does – and I mean, a…lot…more.
I suppose that some iPhone users may be attracted to the larger-screened iPhone 6 models, and some may even switch back to Apple in two years, but it doesn’t mean that the wider display is the only feature that divides the two company’s products. Apple’s trying to bridge the gap currently, however, with the inclusion of split-screen multitasking into iOS 8. It’s clear that, whether Apple wants to admit it or not, Samsung’s introduced some neat features into the mobile experience that Apple likes and wants to share with its customers. There’s nothing wrong with appreciating the work of your rivals, but it is a problem when you stand up at presentations and bash your rivals – all while copying from them.
In the end, the commercial more than does its job. Samsung’s been one to surprise me with its commercials. I don’t know what Apple’s Korean rival will do commercially to surprise me in the days to come, but just know that the iPhone 6’s wider display won’t be enough to get me (or a number of Android friends of mine) to make the switch from our Galaxy S5s to the iPhone 6. We’re perfectly happy with the way things are, though we’re glad the iPhone experience is moving in the right direction.
Although the commercial was titled “Screen Envy,” I think titling it “Envy” alone would’ve done the job. There’re a number of features in the Galaxy S5 that Apple and iPhone users should envy, and it’s interesting to see that, in the display department at least, Samsung will get some credit for its work to push the envelope in the mobile space.
The iPhone 6 will come with two larger display sizes, but wider displays have been a signature of Android for the last few years. Until iPhone users venture out to the world of Android and experience life with an Android smartphone (such as the Galaxy S5), they’ll never know what they’re missing.