A lot of advertising and promotional material surrounding smartphones from Sony over the years have emphasized the water and dust proof nature of the devices, and the company has always made it a point to make a big song and dance about the high IP (Ingress progression) ratings on its smartphones. But starting with the Xperia Z3+ (Z4 in Japan) which was introduced back in May, the company seems to have made a subtle yet telling change to its policy regarding the water proofing on its smartphones; something that also applies to the company’s latest Xperia Z5 range of devices. In a stunning reversal from its earlier stance regarding the water-proofing on its Xperia-branded handsets, the famed Japanese consumer electronics giant is now warning users not to use its IP68-rated handsets underwater, even though IP68 happens to be the highest rating possible to denote protection from liquid and dust.
According to the company’s support page, “The IP rating of your device was achieved in laboratory conditions in standby mode, so you should not use the device underwater, such as taking pictures”. Hence, users should “Remember not to use the device underwater.” This, despite the fact that devices can only get an IP68 rating when they pass stringent immersion tests in fresh water up to a depth of 1.5 meters (almost 5 feet) for up to 30 minutes. Sony however, is playing down those tests, by introducing new disclaimers to notify users that the IP68 rating for its devices is basically just a technicality for the most part, as the tests are conducted under controlled circumstances, which have little or no bearing on real life usage, like in a swimming pool, say for instance, even though its promos and commercials have over the years always made it a point to emphasize the usability of the devices underwater.
According to the company however, “Sony devices that are tested for their waterproof abilities are placed gently inside a container filled with tap water and lowered to a depth of 1.5 meters. After 30 minutes in the container, the device is gently taken out and its functions and features are tested”. Meaning, the smartphones were not even designed to withstand the rigors of small, shallow, residential swimming pools! The question is, why was Sony then advertising the phones’ water resistance, and why has it taken the company so long to wake up to the reality? Or is this just an attempt by the company to shield itself from claims arising out of water damage to the smartphones because of less-than-perfect water proofing?