Taking your Galaxy S4 Active for a dip? Think again

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| August 2, 2013

One of the coolest things about the Galaxy S4 Active is that it was built with protection of the device itself in mind. The phone is dust-proof and water-proof - or at least that's what I've been calling it. As it turns out, the correct term to use would have been "dust resistant" and "water resistant", not proof, because if you want to get technical a true waterproof device would be impervious to water instead of merely putting off the inevitable. The true function of this phone is to keep your phone safe from accidents.

So why isn't it advertised that way?

We've all seen the advertisements that show the phone getting dunked in a cup of water, being dropped in a fish bowl, somebody jumping in the pool without thinking to check their pockets first - that's all fine and dandy. But you also have the advertisements of people going swimming and using "Aqua Mode" in order to take pictures, and why shouldn't they? This phone can supposedly keep water out as long as the phone is submerged no deeper than a meter and for no longer than 30 minutes. Coupling that with the fact that the phone gives you a reason to dunk your phone under the surface for a reason other than just "testing out how water proof it is" kind of makes it seem like, you know, Samsung wants you to use the phone underwater.

One user from Reddit, who claims to be an AT&T employee, made a post just a few days ago warning about the dangers of using the device for such purposes. In the post, he/she claims that their Galaxy S4 Active became liquid damaged after trying to take video from inside a fish tank, even after following all of the proper instructions to secure the device beforehand. However, despite following protocol to ensure the device's safety, the phone still became damaged by water.

Now, this really depends on how much you trust a random stranger on the Internet who has no proof of working for AT&T, if they really did take the proper protocol, etc. In fact, none of that really matters. What does matter is that throughout all of this, we find that Samsung doesn't actually cover liquid damage in their warranty for a phone that specifically deals with water. And that's the part I don't get.

The commercials and advertisements we see usually play up the fact that the Galaxy S4 Active is able to function perfectly well under the water, whether it is by accident or on purpose. Spilled your coffee? That's okay, it's an Active! Drop some food on the screen? Rinse it off, it's an Active! Want to get a close up of your favorite fish? Go ahead, it's an Active! They try and play up the whole water thing, being that it is what sets the phone apart from other models, and then won't even cover it under warranty. That's messed up.

"Capture your underwater story instantly. Take your phone under the surface and capture a different world." Taken from the Samsung UK website, this phrase indicates that the phone should be used for more than just accidents that deal with liquids.

"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, neglect, or unusual physical, electrical or electromechanical stress." As stated from the warranty on the Galaxy S4 Active, which indicates that should anything go wrong after capturing said "underwater story", or under any other conditions, Samsung has no obligation to help you out.

Clearly there are ways to misuse the device on the user's end and cause it to fail. One meter is not that deep, and I could easily see people taking the phone lower than a meter to get a picture or video without knowing it. Quite frankly, suggesting that the phone should actually go underwater for photos and video was a big no-no in the first place. For as long as electricity, and subsequently electronics, have been around, it has been known that mixing them with water is just asking for certain death. Bodies of water are where phones go to die. Simply making a phone water resistant up to 1 meter and for 30 minutes is good for accidents only. You drop the phone, mutter a quick "Golly gee whilikers!" and instinctively snatch said electronic out of the water. Some phones are lucky enough to last through this type of scenario anyway, but the Galaxy S4 Active should have been that phone that was specifically designed to withstand such oops situations, and that's it. It's kind of one of those things where just because it can go underwater doesn't mean it should; especially if a warranty doesn't cover it.

It beats me why anybody would purchase a phone for a couple hundred dollars and run home to dunk it in a tank just to see if it works, but on the other hand, if the phone advertises that you can and should do so I could understand making sure you're getting your money's worth. The fact that Samsung advertises that you should purposefully use the phone underwater and then doesn't support liquid damage under the warranty has really changed my view on the device. Not cool, Samsung. Not cool at all.

Readers, what are your thoughts on this? Share your opinions with me in the comments below!

Images via Know Your Mobile, Redmond Pie

Products mentioned