Samsung: Galaxy S7 Active's Waterproofing Issue Fixed - InformationWeek

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IoT
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Mobile // Mobile Business
Commentary
7/21/2016
01:06 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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Samsung: Galaxy S7 Active's Waterproofing Issue Fixed

How do you restore confidence in a product that doesn't live up to its primary marketing message? Blame it on a manufacturing defect.

Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge: An Up-Close Look
Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge: An Up-Close Look
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Samsung has not had a good track record with its supposedly waterproof, Active-branded Galaxy S smartphones. The 2013-era Galaxy S4 Active famously failed dunk tests, and now the brand-new S7 Active has suffered from similar failures. Samsung says it's all good, though, and no one should worry. Do we believe what Samsung says?

Earlier this month, Consumer Reports said not one, but two Galaxy S7 Active handsets failed its water tests. The phone carries an IP68 rating, which means it is should not sustain damage if it sits in up to five feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Technically, Samsung says the smartphone is water-resistant, not waterproof. For many, that's probably a distinction without a difference -- especially when a commercial for the phone shows it being drowned in champagne.

From its original report:

Consumer Reports technicians placed a Galaxy S7 Active in a water tank pressurized to 2.12 pounds-per-square-inch, the equivalent of just under five feet of water, and set a timer for 30 minutes. When we removed the phone, the screen was obscured by green lines, and tiny bubbles were visible in the lenses of the front- and rear-facing cameras. The touchscreen wasn't responsive.

Following our standard procedure when a sample fails an immersion test, we submitted a second Galaxy S7 Active to the same test. That phone failed as well.

I tested the Galaxy S7 Active myself. I let it sit in the river that runs near my house for a bit more than 30 minutes, although at a depth of about two feet. I also held it under running water and briefly dunked it in my pool. My review unit sustained no damage.

(Image: Samsung)

(Image: Samsung)

Following Consumer Reports' findings, Cnet performed a series of its own dunk tests and found that two of four Galaxy S7 Active handsets succumbed to the deep.

So that's not good.

Samsung was quick to respond to the issue. "The Samsung Galaxy S7 active device is one of the most rugged phones to date and is highly resistant to scratches and IP68 certified," the company said in a written statement supplied to Consumer Reports. "There may be an off chance that a defective device is not as watertight as it should be."

Lo and behold, about one week after Consumer Reports published its initial findings July 8, Samsung said it launched an investigation and identified a manufacturing defect that impacted a small number of devices. That manufacturing defect has since been corrected.

[See Samsung Selling Unlocked Galaxy S7, S7 Edge in US.]

Samsung did not say how many units were affected, nor is the company recalling the phone. Instead, it said that consumers whose devices sustain water damage can return them to the point of purchase for a refund or replacement.

It is important to point out that Galaxy S7 Active is not meant to be a scuba diving companion. The IP68 rating means the device is watertight enough that it should not sustain damage in the event of an accidental dunking. The phone was not designed for underwater use.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
7/22/2016 | 10:13:18 AM
Waterproof? Nope!
There is no such thing as a waterproof product. As a result, the US.government doesn't allow a manufacturer to state that its products are waterproof. Even diving watches that are intended to be used 100 meters under the water are called water resistant to that depth. As is usual with Samsung, the truth is a slimey thing. So out of 6 phones tested by CU and cnet, 4 were found to be damaged by water. That's hardly a "small number" Samsung is counting on the fact that very few phones actually fall in the water. So giving those very few their money back won't be an issue, and they can hide it.
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
7/22/2016 | 8:03:35 AM
It still feels weird
Although I know my phone is water proof, I still can't bring myself to test it. I'll hold it over the bath occasionally and I still panic I'm going to drop it.

I'm sure a lot of other people are far more confident with their phone's waterproofing abilities, but I lost too many devices to moisture a decade+ ago that I don't know when I'll trust it.
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