Jonathan Leibson — Getty Images for Samsung

In two tests, water caused blinking screens and ruined cameras.

July 09, 2016

Samsung has marketed its entire S7 line as remarkably durable, including in commercials featuring rapper Lil’ Wayne pouring champagne over an S7 Edge. But yesterday, Consumer Reports released results showing the S7 sibling pitched as the most durable may, in fact, be the least likely to survive such rough treatment.

In its tests, Consumer Reports submerged two S7 Actives in a water tank pressurized to 2.12 pounds per square inch, the same pressure they would experience at a depth of five feet. Samsung claims that all versions of the S7 meet the so-called IP68 standard for water-resistance, which requires the ability to survive submersion in five feet of water for 30 minutes.

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But both test phones nearly drowned. The first phone’s touchscreen died and showed green lines, while bubbles had infiltrated its cameras. The second phone’s screen turned on and off “every few seconds,” and had water in its camera lenses and SIM card slot. Consumer Reports says that after drying out, the phones would turn on when plugged in, but the screens could not be read.

Ironically, the Active version of the S7 was the only one of the three to fail this test, with the standard S7 and S7 Edge versions actually living up to the Lil’-Wayne-pouring-champagne hype. Those phones have been widely praised as among the best released this year, and are at the top of Consumer Reports‘ phone rankings.

In its response to Consumer Reports, Samsung said it has had “very few” customer complaints about the phone’s water-resistance, and speculated that the magazine had gotten its hands on defective devices.

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But that might not comfort to the athletic, outdoorsy types who are among the phone’s target customers. The S7 Active, offered exclusively by AT&T, includes an underwater camera mode and a special “Active” key that provides quick access to both activity trackers and an emergency app for sending “SOS” messages. It also has a supersized battery, and offers an optional camouflage color scheme. Sporty types attracted by those features would probably rather not wait until they’re in the great outdoors to find out they got a leaky phone.

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