Samsung began calling its flagship Galaxy phones "water-proof" or "water-resistant" with the Galaxy S7 series, which received an IP68 rating, meaning it should be okay to submerge it into up to five feet deep water for a maximum of 30 minutes. That hasn't stopped the company from aggressively marketing its phones as great devices to use at the pool or on the beach ever since, without actually covering any water damage under warranty. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) disapproves of these "misleading advertisements" and is taking the Korean company to court over them.
While it's true that you don't need to worry about breaking recent Galaxy phones should you drop them in a puddle or the toilet, the company's ads went far beyond shallow, fresh-water accidents. The ACCC has collected some of these, showing people using their phones on the bottom of a pool (much deeper than the recommended 5 feet maximum), while surfing in the ocean, and while sleeping on an air mattress in the water. Some of these advertisements include disclaimers that it's only water resistant according to the IP68 spec, but there are a ton of other examples with no warning at all.
"Salty Summers." Yeah. Image: ACCC.
“The ACCC alleges Samsung’s advertisements falsely and misleadingly represented Galaxy phones would be suitable for use in, or for exposure to, all types of water, including in ocean water and swimming pools, and would not be affected by such exposure to water for the life of the phone, when this was not the case,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
Specifically, the consumer protection organization takes issue with Samsung not testing its devices for exposure to non-fresh water and denying related warranty claims, with the manufacturer saying that other liquids could damage phones. Contrary to its advertisements, the company states on its Australian website that "beach or pool use" is "not advised" for the Galaxy S10 range.
This phone is most likely water-damaged by now. Image: ACCC.
Devices subject to the ACCC's lawsuit are the S10e, S10, S10 Plus, S9, S9 Plus, S8, S8 Plus, S7, S7 Edge, Note 9, Note 8, Note 7, A8, A7, and A5. All in all, I wish more consumer protection agencies would take this step. People who are not as interested in tech as we are could easily be deceived by these misleading ads, even if they have a warning in the fine print. But to be honest, who reads an ad's fine print?