Sony no longer recommends that you use its phones underwater (Update: Sony responds)

by: Andrew GrushSeptember 15, 2015
sony xperia z5 premium aa 15

Update: Sony has now issued an official statement about its change in marketing/wording (via Xperia Blog)15:

“Sony Mobile is committed to providing the highest standards of product quality and customer service. Xperia models that feature levels of dust and water-resistance are validated independently and based on Ingress Protection (IP) standards agreed and used across the industry. We have every confidence in the qualities of Xperia devices, which are built to exacting technical standards and are designed to perform to high standards in normal usage.

“The recent changes to guidance we provide to our customers are designed to more clearly illustrate the best ways to protect devices in day-to-day usage. We communicate necessary precautions, and the specific parameters of ingress protection ratings, to help customers to protect their smartphones and tablets in line with the applicable warranty we provide.

“We have also recently updated our marketing visuals to better advocate sensible usage of our devices. The warranty terms provided for our products remain the same and any customer concerns will continue to be considered on a case by case basis in line with these terms.”

One of the staples found on Sony phones are their waterproofing capabilities. Sony had previously billed their phones as perfect companions for those hoping to use them at the beach, while scuba diving, and the list goes on. Interesting then that Sony now recommends that you don’t take its waterproof phones under the water.

The new policy change from Sony was actually first seen with the Xperia Z3+ and Z4, leading some to believe this change was specific to those models. Now the Sony website has similar wording in reference to the Xperia Z5 series.

The Xperia Z5 is waterproof and protected against dust, so don’t worry if you get caught in the rain or want to wash off dirt under a tap, but remember: all ports and attached covers should be firmly closed. You should not put the device completely underwater or expose it to seawater, salt water, chlorinated water or liquids such as drinks. Abuse and improper use of device will invalidate warranty.

In the past, the ability to bring your phone into the water was huge part of Sony’s marketing, with promo videos showing its phones in the water, in a dive scene, and so forth. Why the change of heart? Despite still being rated for underwater use, the Xperia Z5 isn’t recommended for use in these scenarios, likely for one reason: as a loophole to prevent tons of warranty claims.

Sony Xperia Z3 underwater unboxing - YouTube 001637

A screenshot from a Z3 underwater unboxing video by Sony.

Sony says that the reason they don’t recommend planned in-water use is that its tests are done in “lab settings”, meaning they used tap water and were relatively gentle with the phone. That said, we imagine folks who bring their phone into the water intentionally aren’t quite as careful. Simply put, the change is to protect Sony from issuing claims to people who are hard on their phones while using them in these types of scenarios.

Simply put, the change is to protect Sony from issuing warranty claims to people who are hard on their phones while using them underwater.

So what does this mean for you? If you planned on getting a Sony Xperia Z5, just remember that, while your phone should be fine underwater as long as you take the necessary precautions and aren’t too rough — if something happens, you are probably out of luck warranty-wise.

While this change will affect Sony’s marketing, we suspect that most Xperia user rarely use the phone underwater intentionally. Instead, they might have it beachside or in the rain, knowing that if they accidentally get it too wet, they will be just fine. And for these types of users, nothing should change really.

What do you think of Sony’s change in policy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Roby

    Know someone who put their phone under water for 2 days at home.
    Ofc it suffered from water damage eventually. Since they couldn’t prove anything at the store he got a replacement.
    So yeah, previous strategy did more harm than good to Sony I guess.

    • Daggett Beaver

      Design flaw!!! (Hey, if they can say that about putting a pen in backwards, then it applies here.)

      • Roby

        Lol, quoted from Note 5 manual:
        “Warning: Be sure to insert your S Pen with the nib
        pointed inward. Inserting the S Pen the wrong way can
        cause it to become stuck and can damage the pen and
        your phone.”
        Samsung has their ass covered. Pen can’t slip in backwards on its own c:
        Waterproofing a phone can go wrong tho.

  • Runn Dare

    Gentle testing? #facepalm

  • Kristo

    Their phone description states that it cannot be under 50cm water, in chlorine, salt or longer than 30 seconds.

  • jhouihuih

    So give me one more minute and I’ll tell you why. I’m a rough boy, I’m a rough boy.

  • Dexterhank

    I thought it was already the case: the waterproofing not being included in the warranty. I didn’t have any trouble with the previous models in the pool. The old Z did eventually die of water damage after more than a year but it was coz one flap wasn’t really protected anymore, noticed afterward unfortunately.

  • Stavroula Alcyone

    I see no “change in policy” at all. When I bought Z3, the instructions were clear about salt water not being safe for the device. Same instructions that have been on their website for at least six months now. Seriously, you’ve never read them?

    • Asif Hasan

      Read the article instead of just the headline…. You will understand what they mean.

      • Shamoy Rahman

        They’re talking about no chemically infected water… This article is so stupid because they’re not even mentioning that fresh water is 100% covered by the warranty but not anything like gasoline. Now, who the hell is gonna dip their smartphone in chlorinated water or salt water for over half and hour and the biggest idiot in the world would dip their phone in gasoline. Chlorinated or saltwater isn’t good for anything, not even your keys, but one fact this article has clearly left out is fresh water is completely covered. Now the real question is, how much did Samsung pay Android Authority?

        • marhensa

          sea diving maybe?

          • Shamoy Rahman

            No you can’t seadive with it but you can swim under 30 mins in a pool with it.

        • Stavroula Alcyone

          You… I like you. I owe you a cookie. ;)

        • Zmeg2222

          It’s one thing that Sony says you can’t use it in chemically infected water it’s another thing when they show a picture of a person obviously in a swimming pool taking his families portrait. Sony says one thing and does another. Waterproof means waterproof not maybe waterproof ! I was going to switch from Samsung to Sony but now it looks like LG is going to be the new phone unless Sony gets its act together and stands behind its statements.

          • Shamoy Rahman

            Well guess what, this article is getting nitpicky over something mistakenly Sony said. Watch, Sony is going to change the words on their website to waterproof guaranted again. I have the Z3, my dad has the Z2 and I had a Z1 before. 3 Xperia flagships, all of them are waterproof and I could use them when I went swimming without any issues. You want a 10 minute video of me using my Z3 underwater? Give me your email.

          • Zmeg2222

            I believe you Shamoy and am excited to hear your positive statements about the Sony phone. I hope you’re right about Sony changing their wording and starting to guarantee at least the Z5. I would imagine that there would be so few phones being sent back with water damage that it would behoove Sony to change its policy very soon. This is a Very intriguing phone to say the least. Have you had any overheating problems with the Z3? I have tried asking questions of Sony on Facebook but none of their representatives have gotten back to me.

      • Stavroula Alcyone

        I actually read the article and still knew all that information from Sony’s website months ago and I do understand what they mean. Read behind the words instead of just judging me.

    • Mike Christie

      The thing is that a lot of the marketing for the Xperia Z initially hinged on it being suitable for use underwater, showing things like, as above, people diving with it. I would imagine that more SCUBA is done in the sea or chlorinated water than in ‘chemically pure water’ or whatever the small print might say. There is an inherent implied dishonesty in the marketing showing people doing things that according to the small print would invalidate the warranty.

      I’ve got a Z2, and my wife has a Z3, and I’m not too bothered about the waterproof thing. I just hope they’ve stopped the discolouration of the screen, the shoddy wifi, degraded loudspeaker or the glass bits randomly cracking for no apparent reason.

      Having said all that, I REALLY want a Z5 Premium assuming it will fit the Sony Car harness head unit.

  • Daggett Beaver

    Dang. There goes my plan to take my phone diving for treasure without a ziplock bag for it.

    • Andrew Grush

      Did I just ruin your weekend, Daggett? :P


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  • Wudien

    Waterproofing was the one unique thing Sony had going for them. Wtf. It was top 3 things cool about an xperia. Sigh. I know people are joking about using it underwater but it’s pretty cool, at the pool, float trips, fishing, and boating.

    • wabbies

      They still have It though

      • Ivelin Ognyanov

        But no warranty, and that kinda kills it. The reason to do it is that a lot of the phones are not that water proof – friend of mine had two defective compact z3’s after a picture in a pool.. literaly 1m max under 50cm of water and yes, ofc sealed ports. They changed both and now he doesnt have the guts even for a spill on his phone. Acording to this new policy they will refuse to fix/change the phone. Oh, also I have other friend with z3 compact from the first one’s and he swim with it hahah a lot of times and no problems at all. So so.. waterproof, but if you are lucky.

        • Bur

          It is under warranty. Just don’t swim with it in chlorinated or salt water.

  • xxxninja

    highly disappointing. hasn’t even been announced for US availability and i’m no longer interested, especially at the high pricing they want for the regular Z5. The camera also doesn’t appear to be as great as I was hoping. Oh well, preorders for 6s+ start in 15 hours

    • wabbies

      If you don’t want to really dive into a pool or something, you should be just fine. This is really for the people who cant think for theirselves and abuse the phone and claim it’s Sony’s fault. Rules are rules, Sony can’t proof it’s not their fault so they have to pay. There is not much to worry about.

      • xxxninja

        Yes I planned on using this for pool parties and swimming. im getting the iphone 6s+ but there aren’t any good waterproof cases for it unfortunately. will probably just keep my 5S and use that when i get wet

    • Jimbo

      Honestly, the Z5’s availability in the U.S. was always going to be spotty, having to go out of your way or jump through hoops to order it, so you’ll probably be better off with another device.

  • Kasun Soysa

    iPhone is not water proof ,yet people buy it paying more than a splash proof Xperia. In the consumer point of view , LG offers replacements to any kinda damage including water and drop damages.

    • Richard

      But why name iphones? This has nothing to do with this topic.

      • Al-Mothafar M. Al-Hasan

        Because funny people says because Sony policy changes and phones now not waterproof (while its still waterproof) they will order iPhone. I don’t know how those people thinking.

    • Abdullah Abdulaziz

      Yes LG does gives the warranty on everything I had liquid damage not just once but many times and they still replaced and repaired the parts that is what I like about LG

    • Shamoy Rahman

      Xperias are 100% waterproof in fresh water, not chemical water or gasoline proof lol. iPhones aren’t even 1% waterproof.

    • abazigal

      The iPhone is water resistant though; Apple just doesn’t advertise this point precisely to avoid people running their phones testing this out. Just look at online youtube videos, the iPhone can resist being placed underwater for about 50 seconds before turning off.

      • Btort

        my sister dropped hers in the toilet and it was dead…only one second

      • khalidalomary

        lol gd luck w/ that

  • Zmeg2222

    Sony based all their advertising on this feature so it doesn’t look good. This is a very expensive phone, no excuse for this.

    • Svnjay

      No excuse for people destroying their phones from misuse?

      • Zmeg2222

        Do you mean like the misuse that Sony shows everyone in their ads? Sony is selling this phone based on its waterproofing so why wouldn’t people put it underwater?

  • Kagnon

    The change in this is probably due to flapless USB
    The connector will corrode from most things in water.

  • Mike Bastable

    Sony Mobile is a mess

  • That One Guy

    Well now, I guess that makes the phone water resistant and not water proof. Hmmm! I guess the active line from Samsung is the only water proofed phone. Lol smh

    • Shamoy Rahman

      This is 100% waterproof in fresh water. What this article is saying is that Sony will not cover you putting your device in chemically infected water for too long. Now tell me this. You put your S6 Active in a Sodium Hydroxide solution or saltwater for half an hour. Will it last? No. the S6 Active will probably degrade in the salt water and it will melt in the Sodium Hydroxide. Sony will not cover warranty for misuse of waterproof. They will cover warranty for damage from fresh water which will 99.999% not happen. I have a Z3 and I go swimming with it. If it was water resistant, would it stay unharmed? No, because my Z3 is waterproof, that’s why I can go swimming with it. My dad went swimming in the Dead Sea with his Z2. No issues.

      • That One Guy

        My friend I read the article. It says it will be okay with rain, juice spills ect. It says it does not recommended submerging it in any depth of water. Hmm! Read it again.

        • Bur

          Nope. Sony says it is cool to use it in 1,5 meters deep FRESH water. Not chlorinated pool water. Fresh water is common in backyard pools but chlorinated water is common in public pools. The Same thing is said by Samsung about the active. It’s not meant for underwater use but for surviving accidents. It also states that you can only survive fresh water.

          BTW: Samsung doesn’t cover warranty with loosend flaps while Sony does. If your flaps get damaged Samsung says yea sorry that’s just wear and tear.

  • I’m sure it’s designed to be accident proof, of course don’t take it scuba diving.

  • Matthew Pringle

    Currently going through a battle with Sony over this exact issue. I dipped my phone into the water to prove it was waterproof (obviously making sure my ports were sealed tight) and it started vibrating uncontrollably and is now defective.

    They will NOT want to deal with me, if I hear back from them in the next few days and they say I’m not covered under warranty.

    Oh no they won’t..

    • Shamoy Rahman

      I have the Z3, I show my friends everyday that I can submerge it under water. No issue for me. My dad has the Z2 and he even swam in the Dead Sea with it XD
      You most likely did not close the flaps properly or you were that 0.00001% minority that gets a defective device.

      • Matthew Pringle

        I assure you, I’m that unlucky. The Sony rep on the phone said he hopes I get it taken care of under warranty because “accidents in the manufacturing process do happen”

        I made sure the ports were sealed even though they’re unused. (No reason to open the Sim and I use a mag charger)

        Here’s hoping..

    • Bur

      It really depends. I got a refund after 8 months of use because of water damage (from salt water, my bad…). I had the Z2, bought the Z3c with the refund :)

      • Matthew Pringle

        Hoping I’m that lucky. This shit needs to be dealt with better on their end.


    People bricking their devices and throwing in water for a week to fry it? Hahha

  • TechJunkie69

    Nothing like having to change official policy because people don’t have common sense. It reminds me of when McDonald’s was sued because of the lady that burned herself with hot coffee claiming there was no warning it was hot. Of course it’s hot, it’s coffee.

    • I should sue Taco Bell for giving me the shits. There was no warning on the wrapper.

    • Arnel Ylaya


    • abazigal

      She sued Macdonalds because the coffee was way hotter than it should have been. Her stockings actually fused to her skin. Macdonalds was honestly negligent here; no normal human would have been able to consume coffee at those temperatures.

      And what exactly is “common sense” here. Is Sony supposed to release a lengthy list of how you ought to use your phone or not? You tell me the phone is waterproof, I expect it to be waterproof, without any caveats or catches or stipulations on how I use my device.

      • TechJunkie69

        Someone sounds butthurt. Here’e a novel idea for ya. Don’t take a cellphone with you into the shower or a pool even if it is water resistent because it is a freakin cell phone. Or is that too much common sense for you?

        • abazigal

          Then what’s the point of marketing it as such? And weren’t you people just gleefully trumpeting this “advantage” over the iPhone some time back? So now Sony retracts their initial claim but it’s okay because God forbid that I use a product as advertised by its manufacturer?

          • TechJunkie69

            You people? I for one have called anyone taking any of these phones into pools and the ocean morons. These ratings are nothing more than flashy ways to say that the phone won’t die if you accidentally spill something on it. You want an underwater camera, the best ones say how deep they go, not an IP rating.

  • Danish Sohail

    Nothing changes for me. I am still going to have xperia z5, my two years old xperia z is still doing fine, under water and all. Though I wash it occasionally, not submerge it now, as it has aged and I don’t trust my worn out ports anymore. Anyhow, I am confused about colour selection. Green one or golden?

    • Shamoy Rahman

      Green if you’re getting the Z5, golden is only premium.

      • Danish Sohail

        Chrome is only premium exclusive. Xperia z5 comes in black white teal and gold.

        • Shamoy Rahman

          Oh never mind I totally forgot XD

          • Danish Sohail

            Haha, no problem mate. Happens to everyone :’)

    • Bur

      let’s get the green one :)

      • Danish Sohail

        Yes, I am more inclined towards green one :3

  • Shamoy Rahman

    I use my Z3 in the swimming pool all the time. My dad took his Z2 to the dead sea which is the saltiest sea in the world. No issues. Sony has simply said long intervals of submersion. The waterproof warranty is STILL COVERED for fresh water. If you abuse your device by dipping your Xperia phone in saltwater, chlorinated water, bleach, or some corrosive substance, Sony WILL NOT cover that. The real question here is, how much money did Samsung bribe Android Authority with to overhype this issue to discourage users to buy Xperia phones?

  • Aztazt

    The end of “Plouf Effect”, sadly :-(

  • basejumpbr

    Is just a advise to you don t use Z5 in inappropriate Waterproof conditions..damage your phone and request warranty….but if this article are pushing by Samsung…I m still moving to Z5 this years…and wait if Galaxy note 6 bring back MicroSD….

    • The-Sailor-Man

      “but if this article are pushing by Samsung”???
      Read the article dummy , this SONY’s statement. What Samsung ???
      “I m still moving to Z5 this years”
      Move to your mothers basement and have fun iboy

  • basejumpbr

    Users want go back to Galaxy again…cause this…loose the change to see MicroSD again in the next release…

  • basejumpbr

    Users want go back to Galaxy again…cause this…loose the chance to see MicroSD again in the next release…

  • basejumpbr

    To record waterproof videos is better use a GOPRO….

  • basejumpbr

    In the actual level of competition between brands…cause Z5 gain status this years..if Sony guarantee 100% of Waterproof conditions…some competitor can give some Z5 device to users…make a damage and request warranty to Sony to create a impact in the a Spen gate….The Theory of Conspiracy…

  • basejumpbr

    I Don t care..about it…Z5 Premium this year…yeahhhh….

  • mrjayviper

    I’m guessing since they have gone “flapless”, the connectors (headphone jack, USB port/etc) will corrode immediately if subjected on other than fresh water. I know for a fact seawater can create rust on unprotected (e.g. through paint or other means) metal quickly.

  • The-Sailor-Man

    So the only positive Sony’s feature is gone ??
    Well the Sony boys still have the GS5 option, though.

  • Random fagget

    This policy had been present ever since the xperia z though…

  • Kalen G

    I always thought it would be fine at the beach but my brother, with his Z3 as well, used it in the ocean and it rusted the headphone jack. Since then, I’ve used mine within a waterproof bag for the extra protection. I’ve washed mine fine and did use it in a pool with no issues, but I have always had my reservations.

  • Degus Jacoby Pradana

    And im sit here proud w/ my s6edge n my note5, n using waterproof bag when swimming in the beach or pool
    Damn im such a sammyboy

  • crutchcorn


  • 3223

    I think there seems to be a deep rooted issue with Xperia phones and the water resistance. Apart from the rubber moulding of the flaps eroding and the uncovered ports that many have already mentioned, I also believe that the insulation of the parts actually causes a big enough build up of heat to the point that the adhesives holding the phone together start to come undone. As chips grow hotter and hotter, the glue could have melted and come apart. Maybe Sony should revisit the omnibalance design or something coz it’s surely hurting their USP for Xperia phones being compelling purchases…

  • I have a Z2 and I’ve used it in the pool. Took great photos and video. It did develop condensation inside both front and rear cameras though but I sent it to Sony and they repaired it under warranty.

    I do find that the flaps are irritating and open very easily. This could be the rain they’ve backtracked on using them underwater.

    I’ve even had the flaps open just by taking the phone out of my jeans pocket.

    I recently got a Moto G 3rd gen because it’s water proof without the stupid flaps. Sony really should do the same and get rid of the flaps.

    I wonder if they still have that underwater store?

  • Kamalnath

    I was hoping to replace my underwater cam with one of the sony phones…. :(

  • Gryphon Hall

    It’s not that Sony CANNOT make waterproof phones. They can. I took the original Xperia Z everywhere because I was assured it will still work everywhere: beach, hot spring, swimming pool, even giving it a wash to remove oily deposits (despite what the fine print said, which I know is risky). It’s why Sony felt they can build on that rep and do all of the underwater unboxing gimmick. But they want their phones to be slimmer and lighter. When I got the Z3, I was assured it was more “water resistant” than my Z, but even holding it under the tap now kills the screen. When I sent it back for warranty, they assured me it was my fault because when they tested it in the lab it passed… but there was water damage inside.

    In the end, I’d rather have a brick with premium performance but can work underwater than have something that looks pretty and slim but stays in my bag during trips to water parks.

    • An-Nusantarani

      xperia z still okay? How long have you been using it?

      • Gryphon Hall

        Yes. I got it around 2013. Still doing well but I’ve passed it on to my Mum. About the only thing she complains about is the battery life (but I suspect that she doesn’t really charge it as promptly as she says she does—while I had it, I can go almost 2 days on one charge with it).

  • Wjdzm

    If Samsung writes a caveat on their user’s manual, they call it a “design flaw.”
    But if other android manufacturer tempers with their caveat wordings & goes against their marketing concept, it’s fine & the article writing about it is considered stupid. SMH

    • The-Sailor-Man

      Because only Samsung is a threat for Apple!
      It’s so simple . Right?

  • fredphoesh

    Sorry Sony, that is HORSESHIT. Sony are not taking responsibility for CHANGING their policy… instead they come with some crap “to more clearly illustrate the best ways to protect devices in day-to-day usage.” … yeah, right… like that is the reason. I would way prefer them to actually be HONEST and say “too many people are returning their phones with water damage and we have had to alter our policy as we cannot keep honouring warranty claims for people who are swimming with their phones to take underwater photographs”.

    • Anas Malas

      They did not change the policy, they just re phrased it… i have had understood all this ever since i bought my Z3 a long while back, fresh water is good as long as flaps are sealed and not corroded. chlorinated water is not advisable but ok-ish as long as you wash the phone with fresh water immediately after getting it out, but dont forget to check the seals after some time. furthermore if the open head phonejack has water in it do not plug in head phones which will short it out, also after milliseconds of salt water exposure the coating on the headphone jack and all the seals will get destroyed and the phone will die in a second or two (at least in theory)

  • JC

    They don’t honor the warranty for water damage if the phone passes a barometer test anyway, so why does it even matter?

  • bikrame

    Sony lost me before making me customer. It doesnt make sense to have phone which is called water proof but you can submerge in water. They should call it splash proof.

  • mr mitch

    Bullshit about the salt water. Went back over to Cyprus this year to see my fam and took my xperia into the sea at fig tree bay. Took under water photos and above water and it still works superb. No issues at all

  • Michael

    I hadsony xperia5 .1decided to upgrade to SamsonS6.I only rec £26 for my phone 18 months old.why thy said it had been in water
    I wil not buy any phone from sony again.

  • AmeShinra Steve Shin

    damn i used to wash it or use it near the beach with no worries of getting the phone submerge in water a while or get wet by washing it. this really dismays me ! not too sure should i just keep my current power z3 than to change it for z5

  • Benjamin_Syrsa

    I actually don’t think it’s legal to claim a product meets IP68 ratings and not guarantee the claim.

    In sweden at least, that is considered illegal marketing.