Last week, we reported growing concern about the underwater reliability of the Galaxy S4 Active after a Redditor claiming to be an AT&T store manager said that his, and several customers’, Actives broke after being submerged in water. This is a problem because the entire marketing thrust of the S4A is it’s water resistance. AT&T’s “whatever-proof” advertisements and Samsung’s Aqua-mode demonstrations encourage users to take it underwater, but we learned that the Active’s warranty does not cover water damage.
In any other case of mechanical failure, AT&T or Samsung would replace your phone right away and take credit for the problem. With water damage though, the details get muddy since there’s no sure-fire way to determine if a user failed to follow safety procedures or if the phone had an internal malfunction.
However, after some bad press (and perhaps a growing number of complaints), it looks like AT&T and Samsung have wisened up, a little. An anonymous source told Phone Arena that there is an internal AT&T memo circulating that says that the carrier will indeed replace a customer’s Galaxy S4 Active should it fail in water – but only once.
This sort of policy isn’t out of the ordinary. We’ve heard stories of iPhone owners getting their cracked screens replaced as a once-and-only-once deal with Apple Store reps, often just after purchasing their fancy new iPhone 4 or 5.
If true, the new policy will give some customers a second chance with their Active should they have bad luck, and offer peace of mind for the rest of the GS4 Active owners out there who want to give the phone’s Aqua mode one or two tries. It should also help curb the chance of legal action, such as a class-action lawsuit. If a class-action suit was filed, and proof came forward of the phone’s weakness to water, Samsung could be forced to recall or replace all the GS4 Actives it has ever sold.
In the end, this small move is good for those who invest in a Galaxy S4 Active, but does nothing to address the possible engineering or design problems behind the device, nor does it address the warranty, which still doesn’t cover water. If you’re interested in learning more about the Galaxy S4 Active’s water-resistant capabilities, check out our article on what makes a phone rugged.