Sorry Samsung, we killed your waterproof phone – with water

Reviewer Sophie Charara takes the Galaxy S4 Active for a swim. And it doesn't like it one bit...

Waterproof gadgets call for one thing: sitting on the side of an outdoor swimming pool in the English countryside and dipping the S4 Active in for a few minutes to test out its underwater Aqua mode. 

I made sure the microUSB port flap was sealed and clicked the rear cover firmly into place (the headphone jack is waterproof) – then panicked my friends by plunging the phone into the water to start filming. 

As I pulled the Active out and had a look at the footage of bikini tops and hairy man bellies, the handset got very hot and well… croaked it. 

A quick inspection revealed some pool water had managed to seep into the battery compartment – not a lot but clearly enough. So I was left one handset down, minus my awesome video of two divebombs from opposite ends of the pool and with my gadget expert rep in tatters. 

Apologies to Clove who kindly loaned us the ex-S4. This is what happens when we try to do science.

Bizarrely the Galaxy S4 Active's warranty doesn't actually cover water damage, despite tonnes of promotional videos showing off its dedicated Aqua Mode. Sure, it's rated to last for 30 minutes in one metre of water, but if any of it seeps in, you're on your own. We asked Samsung about the Galaxy S4 Active's warranty and were given this statement: "Samsung GALAXY S4 Active has been designed and certified to meet IP67 standards. As part of our standard customer care policy, Samsung actively monitors for product quality and will investigate questions of specific individual devices if they arise. We are working to improve the warranty condition of the GALAXY S4 Active for customers. We will update once it is finalized."

Sleeping with the fishes

It's not all bad news, though. Stuff's Lucy Hedges had far more successful under water shenanigans with another Galaxy S4 Active, managing to submerge it completely in a selection of fish tanks while taking photos and recording video.

Sorry Samsung, we killed your waterproof phone – with water

She did notice that the screen would freeze after each dip, though (even after drying), but a quick power button press to lock and unlock the screen did the trick. 

We'll call this one a draw then, shall we?

More after the break...


Anyone in England can call upon the Sale of Goods Act. 

If something is not fit for purpose then you will be able to get compensation.  Also the fact that it purports to be waterproof will mean that your other statutory rights should also still be valid.  Samsung might get away with it elsewhere but not in Britland.

I need to get a back-up first, then I'm going to test my S4A in a store that is committed to replace it if it fails.

Samsung quality overall has been a bit of dissappointment already. Keys are too sensitive, but after getting a protective cover the keys are deeper and now I can finally pick up the phone without grabbing the keys and ending the call (or adjusting the volume).

The bezels are so thin that I touch the display without noticing with the "root" of my thumb. There is no dedicated camera key so I already missed a vandal (it costs over 2000 euros to replace safety glasses on a door on a Sunday). There are numerous other small details which tells me that Korea=China, but expensive. Give me a Nokia phone instead...or maybe a Sony?

Must have been a bit of D2O in the pool

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