When did Sony get so timid about smartphone waterproofing?
While plenty of smartphones these days offer varying degrees of water resistance, there’s probably no manufacturer more strongly associated with the construction of waterproof phones than Sony. Hell, remember back when Sony built an underwater “showroom,” only accessible by divers? The ability of its phones to operate even when soaking when has long been a focus of Sony advertising campaigns, so it’s understandable that Sony’s facing some backlash this week as attention is drawn to a support page where Sony doesn’t appear to place much faith in its phones’ water resistance, advising that users not operate them underwater at all. What’s going on?
First off, this is nothing new: the page where Sony advises against things like trying to take photos underwater has been up since late spring, back when the Xperia Z4 was launching; it’s only getting new attention now thanks to the arrival of the Z5.
Even still, isn’t this odd language to hear from Sony at all, considering how past phones very much handled underwater photography (with varying levels of success)? We’ve mentioned our own run-ins with trouble, like when the water-protecting port covers on its phones shook loose. While newer models have improved the situation with ports that reject water even when uncovered, there still seems to be an ongoing risk, and that’s what’s likely at the heart of this matter: risk.
A Sony smartphone may stand up to a splash, a downpour, or even full-on submersion, but the company is quick to qualify the latter there with the note that its tests are done in laboratory conditions. When you factor in salt water, chlorinated pool water, acid rain, and any number of other environmental factors, it becomes much harder to guarantee water-resistance. Essentially, Sony may be acting to be protecting its interests, setting itself up to say, “see, we told you not to do that” when a user tries to get warranty service on a water-damaged phone.
But is this still a lousy thing for a company to do while also making it look like its phones are immune to water damage, and touting things like an IP68 rating that specifically OKs the phone for sustained immersion? Well, tell us what you think in the comments.