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Samsung can’t outsell the iPhone 12, so it’s running new anti-Apple ads instead

Updated May 28th, 2021 2:05PM EDT
Galaxy S21 Ultra vs. iPhone 12 Pro Max
Image: Samsung

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Samsung has a few traditions that have helped it become the world’s largest smartphone vendor and hold onto that position for so many years. The first was copying Apple. It started with shameless ripoffs that Samsung had to defend in court in tiresome, long-winded patent battles that ended with unsurprising settlements. Samsung has moved on from trying to replicate the iPhone’s appeal, so it now makes flagship handsets that have their own unique designs and software language. But Samsung still follows Apple’s moves very closely, as we all know.

Another tradition that has worked quite well for Samsung is mocking Apple and the iPhone in TV ads with regularity. It’s been a while since Samsung’s last anti-iPhone ads, but the company is now back with a new one that targets the iPhone 12. The reason why Samsung is going after the newest iPhone is beyond transparent, of course. Apple sells a massive amount of expensive iPhone 12 units, far beyond what Samsung can pull off with its own flagships. Samsung’s inability to outsell the iPhone is also a longstanding Samsung tradition.

The most recent data from Counterpoint Research says that Apple isn’t just selling more phones than other companies, it’s also raking in a truly massive share of all smartphone profits.

iPhone 12 Sales
Top 10 smartphone sales in Q1 2021 by revenue (left) and volume (right). Image source: Counterpoint Research

The graphs above say that the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro Max, and iPhone 12 Pro accounted for 12% of smartphone sales in the first quarter of the year, but a whopping 32% of revenue. Add the iPhone 12 mini, and the iPhone 12 series accounted for 34% of all revenue for the period, according to this data. The iPhone 11 and iPhone SE 2020 made up another 4% of revenue. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S21 series accounted for 6% of revenue, but none of its phones are in the top 10 in terms of sales volume.

Global smartphone revenues crossed $100 billion in the first quarter, according to the report. Nearly 40% of that went to Apple. Samsung launched the Galaxy S21 in mid-January, so the iPhone did have a bit of a lead.

iPhone vs. Galaxy Sales
Omdia’s smartphone sales rankings for 2020 and 2019. Image source: Omdia via WCCFTech

Samsung didn’t do much better in 2020 either, as seen above.

These are all things to consider when you see one of the three new Galaxy S21 Ultra commercials below. They all feature direct comparisons with the iPhone 12 Pro Max, focusing on the S20 Ultra’s camera abilities. Samsung uses the same tagline for all these ads — Your phone upgrade shouldn’t be a downgrade.

The first ad says Samsung’s 108-megapixel sensor can capture more detail than the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s 12-megapixel main camera.

The second clip focuses on the Ultra’s massive 100x Space Zoom feature, a marketing gimmick that definitely comes in handy for this sort of promotion. There’s no question that the iPhone 12 Pro Max’s zoom is inferior to the S21 Ultra’s. But it’s also true that 100x zoom isn’t very usable since the resulting images are so grainy.

Finally, there’s the Single Take ad below, which tells you that the S21 Ultra can take photos and videos in a single click, while the iPhone can’t. The big problem with this one is that you can take photos while recording video; that’s been an iPhone feature for years.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Samsung release more anti-iPhone 12 ads over the course of the year, especially considering that Samsung won’t have a new Note lineup in stores this fall. Instead, the Korean giant will try to sell more foldable phones than ever. Hopefully, Samsung will not have to delete these new anti-Apple ads like it did with the ones that mocked the iPhone’s headphone jack, an iPhone design decision that Samsung ended up shamelessly copying, just like we all knew it would.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.