Samsung Galaxy S7 Active Fails Water Resistance Test

Jerry Beilinson of Consumer Reports:

Commercials for the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge showed hip-hop’s Lil Wayne pouring Champagne over the phone and dunking it in a fish tank.

You can tell the reviewer is an older white guy because a reference to Lil Wayne doesn’t really need to be clarified as “hip-hop’s Lil Wayne”, as if there were another one. I digress.

The Active version of the S7, which is available to AT&T customers for $800 and up, is being marketed as equally water-resistant. While Consumer Reports generally doesn’t evaluate phones for this feature, we do perform an immersion test when a manufacturer claims that its product is water-resistant. When we recently evaluated the Galaxy S7 Active, it failed this test.

Companies that label their devices “water-resistant” can cite a variety of benchmarks. In this case, Samsung says its phone follows an engineering standard called IP68 that covers both dust- and water-resistance, and that the phone is designed to survive immersion in five feet of water for 30 minutes. That’s the spec we used in testing the Galaxy S7 Active.

Bizarrely, the only model that failed was the sports-marketed Active variant; the other Galaxy S7 models performed fine in the same water resistance test. You’d think that the one ostensibly designed for an active lifestyle would be even more water resistant than their counterparts.

For comparison, the Apple Watch is only rated as IPX7 water resistant, which means that it may be submerged in shallower water — just three feet — for up to thirty minutes, yet Craig Hockenberry swims with his. I have also swum with mine for about an hour at a time, and it’s fine, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.

Meanwhile, the iPhone 6S has been widely speculated to be water resistant, with a YouTube video emerging last year showing both models submerged underwater for over an hour, while powered on and running a timer. One of the reasons often cited for the rumoured removal of the headphone jack in the next iPhone is to make it waterproof.

Just goes to show that under-promising and over-delivering is still a far better product decision than the opposite.

Update: As of July 21, Samsung says that they’ve fixed a manufacturing defect that was affecting the Active model, and they’ll replace any previous S7 Active affected by water damage. A good, timely response.