Does This Underwater Cell Phone Sink or Swim?

I’ve spent large portions of the last two weeks on a plane, which means that on more than one occasion I’ve found myself browsing through the Sky Mall catalog to see what kitschy, fun gadgets I could be spending my hard-earned cash on. And on my last flight, I found it: the underwater cell phone, for $1,790. The pitch for the phone system made by Ocean Reef begins with, “Have you ever wanted to make or receive a phone call underwater?” and grows more absurd from there.

I don’t scuba dive, yet this product piqued my curiosity to the point that I made numerous web searches trying to learn more. Namely, I wondered why one needs a cell phone underwater given that divers seem to have a wire line or radio connection back to their ship and to one another, at least judging by what I’ve seen on the Discovery Channel. And as the Ghostbusters so eloquently put it, “Who you gonna call?”

OK, let’s say you forgot to tell the office something important. Or rather than appreciating the rare view nature has afforded you at that moment, you feel like chatting. Is this thing gonna work? It appears that the phone floats on top of the water in a buoy, so at least we’re not looking for more bars under the sea. But given that most boat captains rely on satellite phones because there’s no cell coverage far from shore, I’m wondering how good the network is, and if your call will go through.

So this gadget, which is pretty much a Bluetooth headset in a mask attached by a 40-meter cable to a waterproof box containing your cell phone, joins others like the underwater cell phone and mobile TV released by NTT DoCoMo last year as something that would sink instead of swim. But divers, I’d love for you to weigh in.

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