Smartphones

HOT TECH RUMOR

Samsung’s New Galaxy S5 Might Ship Bathtub-Ready

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

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

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

Unfortunately, you couldstill void the warranty if the unit actually failed and water seepedinside, killing your Galaxy S4 Active and leaving you high and drywith no recourse other than shelling out for a new phone.

In fact, there were some reports of Galaxy S4 Active units failingunder normal, expected underwater use, which surely didn’t help launchsales to true outdoor enthusiasts.

Still, the Galaxy S4 Active was a fine start, and while Sony’s XperiaZR and Z1S are also “waterproof,” they aren’t nearly as influential asthe 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 — wouldbe particularly fantastic, I’m not holding my breath.

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

Similarly, drinks get spilled on tables — and at bars — and who wants to be theclumsy guy who destroys a US$600 smartphone that belongs to the girl youjust 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 andcrannies in smartphones and their cases could use a good dunking everynow and then just to wash off the germs.

At the very least, it would be nice for active people who exercisewith their smartphones — just putting a smartphone in a front pantspocket and then hiking can introduce enough moisture from vaporoussweat 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 inSamsung’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 WorldCongress in Barcelona — I’m inclined to give it a high chance of being true.

As for effects on the industry, this possible feature carries moreweight than a snappier processor, better camera, or even a Samsungfingerprint sensor. Why? Everyone wants their smartphone to beessentially waterproof.

Not only would it add pressure to otherAndroid competitors, it could become an interesting advancement overApple. After all, if Apple is so obsessed with amazing industrialdesign, why can’t it create a waterproof iPhone, too?

Shouldn’t be that hard, really, especially since there are alreadycompanies offering innovative ways of coating electronics with tinymolecular 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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