Sony has touted many of its Xperia smartphones as being dust and waterproof, and it’s no surprise that they’d do so, because most other phones lack those features. However, now it looks like Sony is walking back its hype on the waterproof nature of its phones.
A Sony support page details IP ratings, what they mean when used on smartphones, and what they mean for you, the end user. Sony explains that the IP rating is determined in a “strictly controlled laboratory environment.” Sony then details exactly how its phones achieve that IP rating for water resistance:
"Sony devices that are tested for their waterproof abilities are placed gently inside a container filled with tap water and lowered to a depth of 1.5 metres. After 30 minutes in the container, the device is gently taken out and its functions and features are tested."
That’s probably not how most folks would use their phone around water, and it’s not how Sony has advertised the waterproof feature of its Xperia phones, either. Many past Sony product images showed people using the phone underwater, taking pictures, and more. Now Sony explicitly says that you shouldn’t use your phone like that, telling us “not to use the device underwater” and that because the phone’s IP rating was determined in standby mode in a laboratory, you “should not use the device underwater, such as taking pictures.”
While Sony has never said that you can use its “waterproof” Xperia phones at extreme depths and in salt water, it’s still kind of strange to see Sony walking back its waterproofing claims on its Xperia devices. As I said before, Sony’s own product images frequently show its phones being dropped into water and capturing photos while submerged. Now Sony says that you can’t do anything like that and that in its testing, Sony didn’t even move the device around while underwater or anything like that.
As for why Sony might be walking back its waterproofing claims, well, it likely has to do with warranties. Showing a phone being used underwater only to have people damage their phone while trying to do the same thing could cause a warranty headache for Sony and could upset its customers. Now if a customer contacts Sony and is upset because their Xperia phone was damaged while they were trying to use it underwater, Sony can point them to this support page. That’s definitely disappointing, especially since many smartphones lack water resistance of any kind, but that’s what happens when you’re a major device maker and you tout your phones as being waterproof and show them being used while submerged.