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.
Samsung Confirms Fix for Leaky Galaxy S7 Active Smartphones
The standard Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge smartphones currently top Consumer Reports’ smartphone ratings, with excellent scores for their displays, battery life, cameras and other attributes, according to the magazine.
In a television ad for the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, hip-hop star Lil Wayne pours champagne over the phone and dunks it in a fish tank to impress several friends.
The ruggedized Galaxy S7 Active was launched in June exclusively by AT&T, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The handset follows the ruggedized Galaxy S6 Active that launched in mid-2015, but gained a bevy of improvements from the latest Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge phones. The S7 Active has a shatter-resistant and water-resistant 5.1-inch Super AMOLED Quad HD touch-screen display and is aimed at users who work and use their phones in hostile environmental and physical conditions. The phone also meets MIL-STD-810G specifications for dirt, dust, temperature, shock and salt resistance. The 5.1-inch display is the same size as the one found on the Galaxy S7 handset.
The Galaxy S7 Active features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of memory, 32GB of on-board storage, a microSD card slot for expandable storage up to 200GB, a 4,000mAh battery and fast charging capabilities. It runs on the Android Marshmallow operating system.
The S7 Active includes many of the features of the latest Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge handsets, including a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera with Dual Pixel technology for great images even in low light conditions, a fingerprint sensor for security and the Samsung Knox defense-grade mobile security platform to protect user data. The handset also includes an always-on display, a customizable “Active” key that can be set to call up an oft-used function, a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2 and near-field communications connectivity capabilities.
Samsung’s S7 and S7 Edge smartphones debuted in March. The Galaxy S7 features a 5.1-inch quad-HD Super AMOLED display while the Galaxy S7 Edge features a 5.5-inch quad-HD Super AMOLED display.