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Samsung, AT&T won’t replace water-damaged S7 Actives if warranty is expired

Once your Galaxy S7 Active’s one-year warranty is up, good luck getting Samsung and AT&T to replace your device if it succumbs to water damage.

While most manufacturers and carriers do not replace smartphones that are damaged by water, even during the warranty period, Samsung bills the Galaxy S7 Active as the rugged, tough big brother to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge — one that is able to withstand drops to the concrete and handle liquid poured directly onto it. The problem? Consumer Reports says the IP68-rated S7 Active failed its water-resistance test — and Samsung was even able to replicate the issue.

The Korean giant responded swiftly after an internal investigation, saying that a manufacturing issue may have contributed to inadvertent leakage. The company maintained that the water damage will affect only a “very, very small number” of devices, and said that it wouldn’t be recalling Galaxy S7 Active units already in stores.

“We found a problem in the production line that we were able to correct,” a spokesperson for the company said. The problem was corrected on July 8, Samsung said, and Galaxy S7 Actives shipping now won’t be prone to the sort of water damage exhibited by the model tested by Consumer Reports.

Samsung hasn’t recalled prior, defective S7 Active models, and now Consumer Reports has learned that the company will not replace water-damaged devices after the one-year warranty ends. Samsung previously recommended current owners who haven’t observed any defects not to return their device pre-emptively, but if a device suffers from water damage under the standard limited warranty, it can be replaced.

Samsung and AT&T aren’t disclosing any information that would help people identify the fixed phones and the water-vulnerable ones. If you happen to have an issue with your S7 Active, you may also have trouble getting assistance: AT&T clerks reportedly directed people with water-related issues to Samsung, and Samsung says people with faulty devices should reach out to the retailer from where the device was purchased.

We have reached out to Samsung for comment.

Previously, Samsung issued a statement in response to the Consumer Reports test, saying that the “Galaxy S7 Active passed rigorous tests to ensure … certification for water-resistance.” The company also said it “stands behind this water-resistance certification,” and that it will replace any water-damaged units so long as the damage occurred under its standard limited warranty.

Samsung advertises that the Galaxy S7 Active is designed using the IP68 engineering standard, which should make it both dust- and water-resistant. Specifically, the phone is supposed to be able to operate after complete immersion in five feet of water for 30 minutes.

Interestingly enough, Samsung’s other two models in the S7 line, the standard S7 and the S7 Edge, both passed the same water-resistance test, and topped the Consumer Reports smartphone ratings. Samsung designed and advertised the S7 Active as the best choice for users who were hard on their phones and needed a rugged alternative.

Article originally published on 07-17-2016. Kyle Wiggers, Julian Chokkattu, and Williams Pelegrin also contributed to this report. Updated on 08-09-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added news that Samsung and AT&T would not replace device outside of the standard limited warranty. 

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Dave Palmer
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