The whole point of the recently released Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is that it is supposed to be waterproof. Yet some users have been complaining that the device doesn’t live up to its hype or its supposed water-resistance rating, and a new report claims that AT&T and Samsung will be giving people who purchased the S4 Active the opportunity for a one-time-only exchange.
PhoneArena.com claims to have gotten its hands on an internal AT&T memo in which the wireless company plans to offer the exchange opportunity to S4 Active users whose phones have been damaged by water in spite of the device’s IP67 certification (which indicates the phone should remain protected from the intrusion of water at depths between 15cm and 1m for up to 30 minutes).
Liquid intrusion has been an ongoing problem since the advents of smartphones, and if a phone’s built-in Liquid Damage Indicator is tripped, the manufacturer will often not provide a warranty replacement, even in cases where the user swears that the phone was never exposed to liquids or where the damage is obviously unrelated to liquid exposure.
That’s what makes phones like the S4 Active so attractive, especially to people who use their devices while jogging, exercising, or any sort of activity during which they might sweat or come in contact with water.
But even the S4 Active’s manufacturer’s warranty doesn’t cover water damage, as it is difficult to prove that the phone was being used within depth and time limits consistent with the IP67 rating. So if the phone malfunctions after a quick dunk in a glass of water, the user is left with an expensive paperweight.
PhoneArena says that users will only be able to exchange for another S4 Active, so they had better hope that the replacement phone is more watertight than their first one. Additionally, the phones had to be purchased directly from AT&T. It’s possible that Samsung is working with other retailers who sell the S4 Active, but we don’t know for sure.
AT&T is not commenting on this story at the moment. However, a source tells Consumerist that the PhoneArena story appears to be accurate in terms of what AT&T will offer the small number of S4 Active owners with water-damaged phones.
UPDATE: Though we have no further details, AT&T has confirmed to Consumerist that it will be offering the exchanges on the water-damaged S4s.