Apple touts iPhone X with family reunion-themed short film as Spring Festival nears

The iPhone X. Photo: Bloomberg

With the Spring Festival holidays around the corner, US technology giant Apple has recently launched a new marketing campaign for the iPhone X with the release of an emotional short film entirely shot on the edge-to-edge handset, with the support of additional equipment such as industrial drones and quality camera lenses.

Directed by Peter Chan, who is considered among the most respected filmmakers in Hong Kong, and based on a true story, the seven-minute short film, "Three Minutes", is centered on the idea of family reunion during the Chinese New Year.

The short film tells the story of a Chinese train attendant who only has three minutes to reunite with her son during a halt at a railway station before she continues on the journey during the country's longest and busiest Spring Festival travel season. It depicts the emotional strife of the woman, who feels guilty of spending little time to look after her son because of her busy work, striking a sharp contrast to the scenes at the end of the short film in which long-separated sons and parents, grandchildren and grandparents and lovers embrace for the hard-earned reunions with smiles on their faces on the platform.

The short film appears to be a successful promotion activity for the iPhone X featuring 4K video recording, because it triggered a heated discussion among the Chinese Internet users, with many reposting the clip on the social media platforms such as Sina Weibo and WeChat and describing it as a "tearjerker" which makes them homesick.

With China emerging as a key driving force for its global sales, Apple has the tradition of doing some special marketing activities for the Spring Festival, the most important period for the Chinese people. Last year, Apple made electronic greeting cards for the Spring Festival promotion. And this year, the American company took a bigger step with the launch of the reunion-themed short film, which helps enhance its bonding with China's potential customers.

In order to introduce the powerful camera capabilities of the iPhone X, Apple specially created a tutorial page on its website where it uploaded six how-to videos, in which director Chan shares tips and tricks for shooting Chinese New Year films with the smartphone. It also gave a heartwarming slogan, which reads "Each family has its own unique reunion traditions. So who better than you to direct the movie of your family's story?"

While some Internet users applauded the short film, some doubted it could be filmed entirely with the iPhone X, citing a sidelights video which shows that the film production team used additional expensive hardware in the shooting process including a Beastgrip adapter, a large-aperture Carl Zeiss lens and a SmallHD monitor.

Public relations experts said that no matter how many auxiliary tools were used in the shooting, Apple had succeeded in enhancing its brand image in the Chinese market by making a promotional video that highlights the most valuable tradition in the Chinese culture.

However, whether the short film would help increase the sales of the iPhone X in the Chinese market remains to be seen because the smartphone is identified as the most expensive Apple handset with a starting price of more than 8,000 yuan.

There were reports saying that Apple would be cutting the iPhone X production from the initial 40 million planned to 20 million for the first quarter of 2018 due to the lackluster demand. The big change in exterior design, functionality and price were considered as the major reasons causing the weak demand. Many consumers reportedly preferred to choose other cheaper iPhones after they found that few new functions of the iPhone X were attractive enough to justify its price. The full-screen Mi Mix 2 developed by Chinese technology firm Xiaomi, which resembles the iPhone X, is priced at less than 4,000 yuan.

Previously, Apple had warned users that the iPhone X might encounter screen problems of "burn-in" and color shifts, which could occur in extreme cases, even though Apple sees the screen as one of the key selling points of the new smartphone.

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