Many people who read articles on Android Authority or watch our YouTube channel are looking to purchase a new smartphone. They might be concerned with features like a fast processor, a good camera, or long battery life and want to know exactly if the price is justified. But many people who buy smartphones make their decision – or at least get interested enough in a phone to go to a store – simply because of the marketing that help promote those devices.
Even though television commercials are becoming less important for advertisers in this era of social media and influencers, the truth is that they are still a major part of smartphone promotion. We have seen some wild, wacky and even poignant TV ads over the years to market phones. We dug around the internet to find what we think are the best smartphone commercials of all time. As you will see, there are some well-known ads, along with some others that you may have forgotten about, or not seen at all.
Palm Pre “Flow”
Way back in 2009, the Palm Pre made its debut with a very striking ad campaign. This commercial, and others for the same phone, featured actress Tamara Hope, using the Palm Pre to simplify her life. The main ad in the campaign, Flow, was directed by music and movie director Tarsem Singh and it showcased his trademarks: highly colorful settings that, well, didn’t really make a lot of sense on the surface.
The ad is striking and cinematic, and doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the Palm Pre, but that doesn’t make it less entertaining to watch. The Palm Pre wasn’t a huge sales hit, but it at least it served as the inspiration for a cool commercial.
Motorola Droid “Human”
Also launched in 2009, Motorola, Verizon and Google teamed up to promote the first of the Droid series with this memorable smartphone commercial. You probably remember this one, because it looks a bit like the phone was made in the same factory as the T-800 Terminator model. The ad’s theme, funnily enough, is a robot using the phone to look up all the different results a search for “Human” produces, whether in Google Search, Google Maps, Music and more.
It’s an effective ad, and one that, back in 2009, made the Motorola Droid look like something from the future. After all, searching on something on your phone back then was a bit of a chore, but the commercial for the Droid made it look like you were searching for something on your PC.
Apple iPhone 4S “Siri”
The iPhone 4S launched in 2011 and introduced the world to “Siri”, its voice assistant. While the actual implementation of Siri back then left something to be desired in the real world, Apple likely got lots of folks to buy the phone thanks in part to the promise of Siri. Nowhere is that promise shown better than in this iPhone 4S ad, featuring actress Zooey Deschanel.
The ad shows Deschanel asking Siri very simple things, and getting instant and accurate responses. The commercial is quirky, much like the actress herself, but it also revealed how much Apple wanted to promote the use of Siri on the iPhone 4S. Did it work that way in real life? Not really for most people, but this ad certainly made Siri look cool, and it may have caused many to buy one that had not purchased an iPhone beforehand.
Samsung Galaxy S III “Next Big Thing is Already Here”
Samsung went after Apple’s launch of the iPhone 5 in the fall of 2012 with this excellent commercial for the Galaxy S III. It mocked what was, even then, the typical response to a new iPhone launch: showing people lining up at an Apple store. The people who are lined up to get the new iPhone are shown mostly rationalizing many of its flaws, such as its Lighting charging port that was incompatible with older iPhone accessories.
The commercial also showed off the Galaxy S III’s many features, such as its larger screen and its ability to transfer data just by touching two phones together (does anyone still use S Beam or Android Beam? Let us know in the comments if you do!). The ad is funny, while also pointing out both the iPhone 5’s flaws and the benefits of the Galaxy S III. It’s perhaps one of the best put-downs of the iPhone, while at the same time showing that Apple had some real competition.
Nokia Lumia 900 “The Smartphone beta test is over”
Also released in 2012, the Nokia Lumia 900 launched at a time when Microsoft was still trying to make Windows Phone a thing. The ad, featuring Saturday Night Live alumnus Chris Parnell, tries to claim that the Lumia 900 is the first “real” smartphone. Parnell, in his deadpan humor style, walks around telling unsuspecting people that all previous smartphones were nothing more than a “beta test” for the Nokia 900.
The commercial did get the point across that many people were disappointed with previous smartphones and were looking for something better. This ad was certainly funny and memorable, but unfortunately it didn’t do the one thing it should have done; it didn’t really go into the features of the Lumia 900. Perhaps if it did, Nokia and Microsoft might have sold more phones.
Nokia Lumia 920 “Don’t Fight”
Here’s another Nokia and Microsoft ad, this time in 2013 for the Lumia 920. This time, it shows fans of Apple’s and Samsung’s phones fighting at a wedding while two of its caterers document it on their Nokia phones. As with the older Lumia 900 commercial, this is a funny and well-produced ad. It shows, in an over-the-top brawl, that Apple and Samsung fans were blindly stuck in their camps while there were solid alternatives they could use.
As with the earlier Nokia ad, this one didn’t really get into the features of the Lumia 920 either, aside from mentioning an award it had won from a media outlet. Still, this is a great commercial for a product that, perhaps, needed some more direct marketing rather than seeing Apple and Samsung fight it out.
HTC “Here’s to Change”
In 2013, HTC signed up actor Robert Downey Jr. to a two year contract to be their spokesperson. It seemed like a good idea at the time, as RDJ (we can call him that because we are friends) was the biggest actor in the world, thanks to his role as Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies and The Avengers.
For its first, and most memorable, commercial with Downey Jr., HTC went all in with the actor’s persona of kooky super-confidence. It showed the actor trying to come up with a way to explain what “HTC” actually meant. We saw some truly bizarre scenarios that focused on these ideas, such as “hipster troll carwash” and “humongous tinfoil catamaran”. It was surreal and eye-popping and, without a doubt, very entertaining. However, even Iron Man was unable to get HTC to sell more phones, although it tried again with a weird series of short films featuring RDJ in 2015.
Motorola Moto Z “Different is Better (Moto Mods)”
The Moto Z family of phones launched in 2016, along with their Moto Mods snap-on accessories. Motorola decided to launch an ad campaign to promote both the phone and the Moto Mods, and it did so in a great way, by focusing on how smartphones, which were cool just a few years ago, seemed to be losing some steam for consumers.
The ad poked some fun at most new smartphone launches, showing how they might have a slightly better camera or a new “rose gold” color option but not much in terms of innovation. The Moto Z ad showed that owners of that phone could snap on a Moto Mod that could turn the phone into a better speaker, a more advanced camera and more. It certainly got its message across, and it even brought back Motorola’s “Hello Moto” tagline from its older feature phone days.
Mophie “All Powerless”
Mophie decided to spend millions of dollars for a Super Bowl ad in 2015 to promote its lineup of power cases for various smartphones. It did so with a commercial featuring Hollywood-style special effects. The ad shows the world seemingly on the brink of ending. Hurricanes are hitting Nebraska, snow is forming in the African desert, fish are falling from the skies and dogs are now walking their owners.
What’s causing all of this? As it turns out, it’s all caused by God’s smartphone being about to run out of power. Like every one of us who have experienced the same thing, it feels like the world is about to end. Mophie’s point about how we all feel about that battery icon going down to nearly zero is perfect for its lineup of phone power cases, and it’s one of the few Super Bowl ads that may be remembered by the tech crowd well past the game.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 “Do More”
Oh dear. Samsung went all out for their TV ad campaign for the Galaxy Note 7 in September 2016, before the phone famously started exploding for many users just a few weeks after its launch. Before all that, and well before Samsung recalled all Note 7 phones, its main commercial for the phone was a lot of fun. Using actor Christoph Waltz was a brilliant move, as he takes on a number of different roles to show how the Note 7 was supposed to help people work hard no matter what else they might be doing, or where they might be at the time.
The South Korean company’s promotion of a phone through the use of old-fashioned U.S.A. marketing is pretty funny. It’s a little ironic that the Galaxy Note 7 got this “Do More” campaign just a few weeks before Samsung advised Note 7 owners to do nothing besides shut off their phone permanently.
Samsung Galaxy: The Rest of Us
A few months after the Note 7 debacle, Samsung came out with this Galaxy smartphone commercial for the 2017 Oscar telecast. It featured YouTube creator Casey Neistat and, while it wasn’t techically promoting a specific phone, it was made to show that the kinds of people that buy Galaxy smartphones were creating videos that were making their mark on the world.
It was a first step in Samsung’s rise back following the Note 7 launch, and it showed how people could use their Galaxy handset to truly make creative films without the need for a big budget or studio. It spoke to the YouTube generation, rather than the old fashioned Hollywood system of creating films. It is still a great commercial that not only showed that Samsung was back in the phone business, but also showed what people could do with its hardware.
Best smartphone commercials of all time
There are a lot of smartphone TV ads that have been released in the past decade or so, but these are our picks for the best smartphone commercials of all time, or at least until the next great commercial comes around. Do you agree with our list? Which commercials would you pick for your best smartphone commercials of all time list? Let us know in the comments!