Samsung says it has found and corrected a manufacturing problem that caused a very small number of its new Galaxy S7 Active ruggedized and water-resistant smartphones to take on water and fail.
"I can confirm we found a production issue with the Galaxy S7 Active" that improperly permitted water to get inside the devices, a Samsung spokesman told eWEEK in a July 22 interview. "We have fixed the issue and have tested the latest devices coming off the [assembly] line. The issue has been fixed and there are no more problems."
Reports of leaks in the $795 Galaxy S7 Active ruggedized smartphones, which are offered exclusively through AT&T, were first announced by consumer product testing organization Consumer Reports after they tested two Galaxy S7 Active handsets and both failed water-submersion tests, according to a July 20 eWEEK story.
Samsung quickly defended its Galaxy S7 Active smartphones, saying that the handsets met the IP68 water-resistance specifications as designed, without offering further comment or explanation of how the Consumer Reports test problems might have occurred.
"The Galaxy S7 Active passed rigorous tests to ensure IP68 certification for water resistance," Samsung officials said in a statement posted July 15 on the company's Website. "Samsung stands behind this water-resistance certification, and will replace any Galaxy S7 Active under its standard limited warranty, should water damage occur."
But after further investigation of the alleged leakage, the company discovered the assembly problems that allowed the leaks to occur for Consumer Reports and is confident that the issue has been resolved, the spokesman said.
The Samsung spokesman would not publicly describe the specific cause of the leakage issue, but said the company will honor its full 12-month device warranty to replace water-damaged phones for any user who experiences such leakage. The Galaxy S7 Active is designed to be water-resistant for up to 30 minutes in up to 5 feet of water.
The company will not recall phones that have already been sold or distributed before the production line corrections were made, the spokesman said when asked about the situation by eWEEK. "We think that such a small number of people are affected" by the leakage problem, he said.
The Galaxy S7 Active smartphones share many components with the company's flagship S7 and S7 Edge smartphones, but they share different production lines, according to the spokesman. No Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge smartphones have faced similar leakage reports and both models passed similar water-submersion tests by Consumer Reports, according to that organization.
In a July 20 follow-up story, Consumer Reports said it asked Samsung to offer a lifetime warranty or replacement program for S7 Active owners who bought the phone before the production corrections were made, but that the company declined the request.
Samsung's Galaxy S7 Active smartphone is the ruggedized version of its popular Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphone lines, which are also built to be water-resistant. The Consumer Reports tests of the S7 Active handsets submerged the phones in the equivalent of 5 feet of water for 30 minutes. The first phone was placed in a water tank that was pressurized to 2.12 pounds per square inch to simulate 5 feet of water, and a timer was set for 30 minutes. When it was removed, the screen was obscured by green lines and tiny bubbles were visible in the lenses of the front- and rear-facing cameras, the organization reported.
Following the first failed test, a second Galaxy S7 Active was tested and also failed, according to Consumer Reports. In that phone, the screen cycled on and off every few seconds and moisture could be seen in the front and back camera lenses as it was removed from the water, the article continued.