Samsung Australia ordered to pay $9.7 million for misleading ads

Samsung Australia has been ordered by federal court to pay a fine of $14 million (approximately $9.7 million USD) for a deceptive marketing campaign, as noted by PhoneArena† The ads in question suggested that some of its water-resistant phones could be used in swimming pools and beaches, which Samsung’s own website advises against.

The ads ran between March 2016 and October 2018 and featured Galaxy A-series, S7-series and S8-series phones. They are all IP68 rated, meaning you can fully submerge them in water for extended periods of time – in this case up to 30 minutes to a depth of 1.5 meters (about five feet). But that protection only applies to fresh water – salt water and chlorinated pool water are another matter.

Samsung’s ads implied that it’s okay to take your phone with you while surfing. It is not recommended to take your phone with you while surfing.
Image: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission / Samsung Australia

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (or ACCC) ordered Samsung Australia to pay for these claims in 2019, and the federal court orders Samsung to pay. ACCC president Gina Cass-Gottlieb says the organization has reviewed hundreds of complaints from Galaxy owners who say their phones malfunctioned or stopped working after being exposed to water. The weak link seems to be the charging port – if the phone is used in salt water or chlorinated water and then charges before the port is completely dry, corrosion can occur.

It’s all a good reminder that even a strong waterproof rating like IP68 has certain limitations. It’s best to be careful before believing something you see on TV and taking the plunge with your smartphone.

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