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Summary:

Some users are claiming the water-resistant Galaxy S4 Active isn’t really all that water-resistant. On top of that, Samsung doesn’t cover water damage in the phone’s warranty.

Galaxy S4 Active
photo: AT&T

The Samsung Galaxy S 4 Active might be ‘whoops-proof,’ as Samsung likes to say, but that doesn’t mean you should take it with you on your next trip to the beach. Even though the phone carries an IP67 rating against dust and water immersion, its warranty doesn’t actually cover dust or water damage. Whoops.

It recently came to light on Reddit, along with customer reviews on Amazon and AT&T, that some early Active adopters were experiencing problems with the phone after using it underwater. Ordinarily this isn’t the type of complaint you hear from experienced smartphone users. After all, if you drop a standard Galaxy S 4 into the toilet, you stick it in a bag of rice, hope for the best, and move on if it doesn’t recover. Water damage is just one of the risks you’re willing to put up with when you buy a delicate device.

The problem is, Samsung’s marketing campaign for the S 4 Active practically begs you to use the phone underwater. There’s even a special “Aqua Mode” that can be triggered to “increase visual quality and clarity for enhanced underwater images and video.” I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to go find a pool and shoot as many dumb underwater videos as I can until the memory runs out.

But for the phone to be properly water-resistant, you need to make sure that a series of ports on the sides of the phone are fully sealed and the back panel is secure. Also, pay close attention to language there: The S4 Active is “water-resistant,” not waterproof.

Now, IP67 refers to the phone’s Ingress Protection rating. The first digit (6) refers to complete protection from dust, while the second (7), means the phone is protected against temporary immersion between 15 centimeters to 3 feet for up to 30 minutes. That means the phone should be able to survive the occasional dunk in the pool — provided you aren’t deep-sea diving.

So while it isn’t clear exactly how these users damaged their phones, it is clear — in the fine print, anyway — that Samsung is not responsible for replacing it. A quick peek at the phone’s user manual indicates “This Limited Warranty does not cover: (a) defects or damage resulting from accident, misuse, abnormal use, abnormal conditions, improper storage, exposure to liquid, moisture, dampness, sand or dirt…” So if you do incur water damage, your only recourse is a bag of Uncle Ben’s.

Unfortunately, this is actually the case for most water-resistant devices. In fact, maybe the only water-resistant phones with a truly comprehensive warranty are the virtually indestructible ones made by Sonim, but they’re big, bulky feature phones.

There are other options out there if you need a water-resistant smartphone. Just make sure to read all the fine details before you take it on your next tropical vacation. And Samsung may want to rethink the way it markets its “Aqua Mode.”

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  1. Yesterday morning the local T-Mobile shop was removing the dunk tank next to the Sony Experia Z.

    The Experia Z is also supposed to be water resistant, but like the Active it has ports that must be sealed before water exposure, and customers had blown up a couple by forgetting to seal the ports. Demo over.

  2. iphone apps development Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    The Experia Z is also supposed to be water resistant, but like the Active it has ports that must be sealed before water exposure, and customers had blown up a couple by forgetting to seal the ports

    1. If you market it as water resistent, but won’t warranty it…isn’t that false advertisement? Just asking.

      1. Steven Kershner Cate Wednesday, July 31, 2013

        thats not exactly true… only reasonis because there are dub people out there that do stupid shit that break there phones or anything for that matter and try to take it back for a replacement..i work in the furniture business and customers ruin there furniture and bring it back thinkin were responsible for there dog pissing on there sofas. thats why they dont cover it in the warranty. i cant blame them

        1. Do you claim your furniture is animal piss resistant? That it won’t stink or yellow after animals pee on it? Do you have commercials that claim this also?

          If so I’d be kinda mad at you.

  3. Actually devices from Toughshield are true IP67 and MIL-810G + Android OS.

  4. With water damage it’s really hard to prove how deep they took the phone or how long it was underwater. The phone is only rated to 3ft for 30 min.

    If you get a broken phone for repair, all you can tell after the fact is that the insides got wet and the electronics were damaged.

    If you cover water damage, you’ll wind up replacing phones that people took scuba diving.

    1. Silvia Maiorani tom Friday, August 9, 2013

      I agree with that, it’s quite difficult for both sides to prove who’s right in case of water damage when the device is supposed to be water resistant. For general knowledge I’d like to share a post which is pretty interesting http://goo.gl/WdjoXV – warranties can be a pain.

  5. jamesautodude Friday, August 9, 2013

    This is dumb. I was excited when I saw the commercial about texting in the shower or in the rain. Wtf… liars! Just like how gorilla glass is “not scratchable or crackable”, only to find out later its “scratch and crack resistant… typical phone manufacturers.

  6. Samsung Galaxy warranty is a hoax.

  7. i didn’t had one week with the phone and they just said ” the warranty doesn’t cover your device”

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