In early June, Samsung announced its latest "ruggedized" smartphone, the Galaxy S7 (GS7) Active. The company briefed me before the official GS7 Active unveiling, and I quickly wrote a post on seven things you need to know about the GS7 Active.
I hadn't had time to fully review the phone at that point, and I apparently missed one very important thing you should also know: Some early units Samsung shipped were defective, and they do not stand up to the company's claim that they're waterproof in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes, at least not according to ConsumerReports.com tests.
The news of the potential problem hit the web last month, but it wasn't until this week that Samsung reportedly confirmed the issue. From AndroidHeadlines.com:
"According to Samsung, the problem causing some Galaxy S7 Active variants to take water damage was found in the production line, and the issue has been resolved. Additionally, Samsung is willing to replace units damaged by water within the standard one-year warranty, but not beyond."
Try to drown your GS7 Active (seriously)
Unfortunately, this lackluster response from Samsung leaves early GS7 Active buyers in the lurch. The average rugged smartphone user probably won't purposely try to soak her phone or cover it in dust for extended periods of time. So she might have a defective unit and not know it until she accidentally drops the device into a pool or dust collects over time and damages it. By then it might be too late.
Samsung didn't provide specifics on the devices that were affected, such as serial numbers or suspect purchase dates. It's also reportedly not currently offering any sort of recall or exchange offer beyond the standard one-year warranty if GS7 owners experience a problem within 365 days. In other words, if you accidentally drop your phone in the toilet on day 366, and if your defective device is damaged, you're out of luck. (I reached out to Samsung PR for additional details but have not yet received a response.)
Until Samsung releases more information on the problem phones, it might be a good idea to leave your GS7 Active in a bucket of water for 30 minutes to see if it holds up. If not, you'll need to make a trip to your local AT&T store or wherever else you bought it for an exchange. However, such a test could help ensure you're not left out to dry after your warranty expires.
It's also worth noting that the non-rugged GS7 and GS7 edge both passed ConsumerReports.com's water tests and do not appear to be plagued by the same problem. In fact, the site currently ranks the GS7 and GS7 edge as its No. 1 and No. 2 top-rated smartphones, respectively.