Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  Your “waterproof” phone isn’t really waterproof.

Your “waterproof” phone isn’t really waterproof.

The ACCC is engaging in court action against South Korean technology giant Samsung.

The ACCC alleges that Samsung has made false representation around its popular Galaxy smartphones. Specifically a feature of the higher end models, typically the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note phones that offer water resistance.

The ACCC’s claims that Samsung’s advertising shows Galaxy phones being used in or around swimming pools or in ocean environments.

All very suitable for the Australian marketplace, you might think. That’s exactly where we tend to like to spend our summer days, and even some of our winter ones too.

There’s one problem here. While Samsung, and many of its competitors in the premium smartphone space offer IP-rated water resistance as a phone feature, that’s not the same thing as “waterproof”. It’s not even close.

What an IP rating provides is a level of what’s called Ingress Protection, specifically against dust and water.

The first number in an IP rating relates to its ability to resist dust (or other fine particles) entering the delicate components within a phone. The second number relates to its ability to resist water entering the phone. Water is an issue not only for components but also the electrical flow through your phone’s circuitry.

Most of Samsung’s recent phones have been IP68 rated. That second number suggests that it should survive being immersed in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1.5 metres.

Isn’t that basically saying it’s “waterproof”? Surely a quick swim or an underwater snap of your grandkids should fine, right?

It might sound like it, but there’s a big caveat here. IP testing is done in lab conditions to maintain consistency, but that means it’s using fresh lab water only.

Not salt water as you’d find in the sea, or for that matter chlorinated water as you’d find in many pools. The effect of those additional chemical elements can be extremely hazardous to your phone’s overall life expectancy, especially if they build up over time.

They can corrode away the precise seals that offer water resistance, or bridge gaps in electrical circuitry, causing phones to fail.

Most smartphones have water sensors in them so that even if you do take them in for a supposed warranty repair, it’ll quickly become evident that they’ve been effectively drowned.

It is important to note that the ACCC isn’t alleging that Samsung got its science wrong. Simply that the advertising around its phones suggested scenarios where the phone might have survived that weren’t in fact realistically feasible.

It’s also worth noting that plenty of other manufacturers offer “water resistance” as a headline feature but don’t back it up with warranty support. Apple’s premium iPhone lines have IP68 ratings, but there’s a specific line in Apple’s Australian warranties that states it won’t cover water ingress events if your iPhone stops working either.

What’s the practical takeaway here? If you have a phone with a level of water resistance, getting it wet in regular rain should be no hassle at all, and even a small dunk in other water may be survivable. But it’s hardly assured. I can’t say whether or not the ACCC will prevail against Samsung, which has said it’ll fight the court battle. But in the meantime, I’m generally keeping my phone dry anyway.


Recent News

One of the big tech news stories to break recently was the Australian Consumer And Competition Commission’s decision to take search giant Google to court. The ACCC alleges that Google “misled consumers when it failed to properly inform consumers, and did not gain their explicit informed consent, about its move in 2016 to start combining

It’s a popular trope that Androids and Macs don’t get viruses or malware, but that’s incorrect. Whilst they may not be as susceptible to them as Windows PCs, there are certainly dodgy apps floating around for all platforms. If you’re unlucky enough to get stung by malware on your Mac or Android device, here’s some

Back when Google introduced the concept of a Chromebook – a laptop computer not running Windows 10, Linux or Apple’s macOS, but instead an environment essentially running on Google’s own Chrome browser – they were pitched as low-cost student computers, and built accordingly. Which is the terribly polite way of saying that there weren’t terribly

Late last week, a whole host of very prominent Twitter accounts – folks like Tesla’s Elon Musk and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, alongside major brands such as Apple – all started promising that they were, quite literally, giving away money. Digital money to be precise, with the promise being that any sum of cryptocurrency bitcoin that

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Learn about the precautions we are taking and our new contactless pick-up and remote service options. Read More
Get help setting up your home office or homework area today. Learn More