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Samsung's New Galaxy S5 Might Ship Bathtub-Ready

Samsung's New Galaxy S5 Might Ship Bathtub-Ready

Not everyone wants to go swimming with their smartphone -- but everyone wants a smartphone that can survive the occasional dunk or deluge. Samsung may fulfill that desire with its Galaxy S5, expected to appear next week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Neither rain nor snow nor a sudsy kitchen sink or bubbly bathtub would do it in. Still a good idea to keep the toilet lid down, though.

By Chris Maxcer
02/21/14 2:59 PM PT

Of all the Samsung Galaxy S5 rumors to hit this week, the one that had me sit up straight and pay close attention is the rumor that the new Galaxy S5 may be both waterproof and dustproof.

This is a big deal, because it would be the first major flagship smartphone with wide and popular distribution to be waterproof.

Of course, Samsung last year offered the Galaxy S4 Active, which was a variant of its regular Galaxy S4. The Active version had a slightly bigger case and was IP67 certified: It could withstand a 30-minute submersion down to about 3 feet of water.

Unfortunately, you could still void the warranty if the unit actually failed and water seeped inside, killing your Galaxy S4 Active and leaving you high and dry with no recourse other than shelling out for a new phone.

In fact, there were some reports of Galaxy S4 Active units failing under normal, expected underwater use, which surely didn't help launch sales to true outdoor enthusiasts.

Still, the Galaxy S4 Active was a fine start, and while Sony's Xperia ZR and Z1S are also "waterproof," they aren't nearly as influential as the Samsung Galaxy line.

Bring It to the Bathtub, Baby!

While having a truly waterproof smartphone that you actually could snorkel with -- shooting photos and video of turtles and fish -- would be particularly fantastic, I'm not holding my breath.

For most people, simply being able to use their smartphone in the rain or snow would be a great leap forward. I once dropped an iPhone in a kitchen sink filled with soapy water. Although I snatched it out in time to save its life, my blood pressure skyrocketed while I frantically performed the smartphone equivalent of CPR.

Similarly, drinks get spilled on tables -- and at bars -- and who wants to be the clumsy guy who destroys a US$600 smartphone that belongs to the girl you just met?

Have you ever tried reading an e-book in the bathtub? Old-school paper is a lot less risky. Even so, all those nooks and crannies in smartphones and their cases could use a good dunking every now and then just to wash off the germs.

At the very least, it would be nice for active people who exercise with their smartphones -- just putting a smartphone in a front pants pocket and then hiking can introduce enough moisture from vaporous sweat to void your warranty.

A mostly waterproof smartphone is about peace of mind.

The Rumor and Ramifications

The waterproof rumor comes courtesy of reports from two tech news sites in Samsung's home country: ZDNet Korea and ET News.

Because this rumor comes just days before Samsung's big "Unpacked" product announcement -- set for Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona -- I'm inclined to give it a high chance of being true.

As for effects on the industry, this possible feature carries more weight than a snappier processor, better camera, or even a Samsung fingerprint sensor. Why? Everyone wants their smartphone to be essentially waterproof.

Not only would it add pressure to other Android competitors, it could become an interesting advancement over Apple. After all, if Apple is so obsessed with amazing industrial design, why can't it create a waterproof iPhone, too?

Shouldn't be that hard, really, especially since there are already companies offering innovative ways of coating electronics with tiny molecular waterproof coatings -- like Drisure or Liquipel.


MacNewsWorld columnist Chris Maxcer has been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and he still remembers the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. While he enjoys elegant gear and sublime tech, there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. To catch him, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at WickedCoolBite.com. You can also connect with him on Google+.


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