Can you use Xperia phones underwater? We dive into Sony’s waterproof retraction

sony xperia underwater controversy z3
Do you own an Sony Xperia smartphone? Remember all those ads and promotions about using the phone underwater? Well, it looks like Sony has changed its mind about being waterproof. The company is backtracking on that claim with its more recent Xperia M4 Aqua and upcoming Xperia Z5, recommending against using the devices underwater. The claim comes from a statement on Xperia Blog, as well as a new page on the Sony support page telling users not to use the device underwater.

If there is some reason behind these claims, it may affect all water-resistant Xperia phones. Both of those devices had the same IP68 water resistant rating as the Xperia Z3, which Sony still says you can use underwater, a confusing contradiction on the Sony website. On YouTube, Sony continues to brag about the Xperia Z3 and its “best ever” waterproof design, featuring the device in all sorts of underwater scenarios:

If you’re confused, so are we: Sony has two different explanations on whether you should or should not use its smartphones underwater. The Xperia Z3 support page, for example, says you can go for the occasional swim with your smartphone. The Xperia M4 Aqua page, on the other hand, says you shouldn’t operate it underwater — despite being branded as an “Aqua” phone with “waterproofing” as a major feature.

This all has to do with Sony’s IP68 rating on the devices. The Z3, M4 Aqua, and even the Z5 (at last check) all have the IP68 Ingress Protection rating for submersion, but may not be enough anymore for Sony to recommend using the device underwater. Sony is already backing away from the Z5’s waterproofing in promotional materials, making it more of a side note than a primary feature. According to Sony, the IP68 rating is “achieved in laboratory conditions in standby mode, so you should not use the device underwater.” However, this doesn’t explain the contradictory information on the Xperia support page, depending on what Xperia device you own. It’s likely all these devices were tested the same way, yet are given different recommendations by Sony.

We’ve seen carriers and manufacturers double back on promises of waterproof phones before. In 2013, both Samsung and Sony gave mixed signals about whether their warranties would cover water damage on their arguably “waterproof” smartphones. At the time, both carriers demonstrated the phones ability to take photos in the pool, underwater, and around the beach. Samsung went so far as to call its phone more than just waterproof, but “whateverproof,” a made-up word meant to give the impression it was a rugged device.

AT&T and Samsung ultimately gave a single replacement for those who broke their phones while underwater, and Sony’s support page states it will replace damaged phones as long as it wasn’t “intentional” or through “improper use,” though it isn’t clear now what using the phone underwater, near the pool, or at the beach means now.

We’ve reached out to Sony for comments and will update this post when we know more. Until then, keep your Xperia in a dry place.


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