Published July 20, 2016
Samsung says it has fixed a manufacturing problem that caused some Galaxy S7 Active phones to fail in underwater conditions the phone was designed to withstand. The company says it launched an investigation after two phones failed a Consumer Reports dunk test, and that the manufacturing problems were corrected approximately one week after our results were published on July 8.
The Galaxy S7 Active works exclusively on the AT&T cellular network, and is sold for $800 and up. According to Samsung marketing materials, the phone should survive immersion in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Samsung would not reveal the total number of Galaxy S7 Active phones sold since the model was introduced in mid-June, or how many had been returned with water damage. However, Phil Berne, a public relations manager for the company, said “compared to the total number of devices sold, it was tiny.”
According to Berne, all Galaxy S7 Active phones are manufactured in the same facility in Asia. “We found a problem in the production line that we were able to correct,” he said. He declined to provide details. Phones now being shipped should be problem-free, according to Berne. However, to his knowledge, Galaxy S7 Active devices already in stores were not being removed from inventory.
Samsung phones carry a one-year limited warranty. According to Berne, consumers whose Galaxy S7 Active phones sustain water damage can return them to the retailer where they were purchased, or directly to Samsung, for a replacement. The company is not offering to replace phones that have not suffered damage. Consumer Reports asked whether consumers could check serial numbers or use other methods to determine whether their phones were affected, but Samsung declined to provide those details. The company believes that water damage “will affect a very, very small number of devices,” Berne said. “We don’t want people to think there’s the necessity of returning their phone.”
In response, Consumer Reports has asked Samsung to consider offering a lifetime warranty and/or a method for consumers to determine whether they have an affected product, along with an option for replacing it.
After Consumer Reports published our test results, CNET followed up and found that some phones it submerged failed to meet its expectations for water-resistance. Additionally, a small number of problems have been reported on community forums at the Samsung and AT&T sites, and in the comments section of the initial Consumer Reports article.
The Active is one of three versions of the Samsung Galaxy S7, and it was the only one to fail our water-immersion test. The standard Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge claim the same level of water-resistance, and both of those models passed. Those two phones currently top our smartphone Ratings, with Excellent scores for their displays, battery life, cameras, and other attributes.
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