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U.K. agency bans 'really fast' iPhone ad

How quickly can you surf the Web, view Google maps, or download a file on the iPhone 3G? Not as fast as the ad implies, the authorities rule.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned another iPhone ad after consumers complained it exaggerated the speed of the device.

A recent TV ad for the iPhone 3G stated: "So what's so great about 3G? It's what helps you get the news, really fast. Find your way, really fast. And download pretty much anything, really fast. The new iPhone 3G. The Internet, you guessed it, really fast."

iPhone 3G
But how fast is it, really? Apple

The ad showed a close-up of the phone being used to surf a news Web page, view the Google maps service, and download a file -- and all the actions had waiting times of only a fraction of a second.

Seventeen people complained to the ASA that the ad was misleading because it exaggerated the speed of the iPhone -- a judgment upheld by the watchdog, which said an on-screen text disclaimer stating "network performance will vary by location" was not enough to dispel the impression that the device actually operated at or near to the speeds shown in the ad.

The ASA failed to be convinced by Apple's counterargument that the claims made in the ad were relative rather than absolute -- and that it was intending to demonstrate the 3G iPhone allowed downloads and Internet access that was "really fast" by comparison to the previous Edge device.

The ASA said in its adjudication: "Although we acknowledged that the majority of viewers would be familiar with mobile telephones, we considered that many might not be fully aware of the technical differences between the different types of technology. We also noted the ad did not give an explicit indication of a comparison with the older 2G iPhone."

The ASA has ruled the ad must not appear again in its current form.

This is not the first time Apple has been scolded over iPhone ads. In August the ASA banned another advert for the iPhone -- which promised users access to "all parts of the Internet" on their Apple device, despite the phone's inability to display Flash or Java web content.

Natasha Lomas of reported from London.