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Expecting water resistance from the Samsung Galaxy Fold is ridiculous

If the Galaxy Fold came with an IP68 rating, would anyone care?

Published onApril 16, 2019

For today’s DGiT Daily newsletter, I compiled the early Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on articles and insights worth reading from the wide and talented tech industry.

Without naming names, multiple writers pointed out in their initial reviews that the Samsung Galaxy Fold doesn’t have water resistance, which is fair. It’s a common enough feature in flagships.

All but one pointed out this out as a simple fact with no additional commentary. That outlier said, quote: “Though, in terms of real-world durability, the Fold not having any water resistance is a bummer.”

A “bummer.” A bummer! What?

What kind of water resistance does a Galaxy Fold need? Who is buying the Galaxy Fold to go swimming with it? Who is whipping out their Galaxy Fold in the pouring rain?

Accidental spills or dropping your phone in the toilet are the practical reality of water damage. Fear not though, because the Galaxy Fold reportedly comes with free insurance at least in selected markets (we’ve reach out to Samsung for clarification). The offer includes a year of free Samsung Care Plus, which covers the likes of accidental and water damage.

The only phone-toilet spills I’ve ever seen have been from people who keep their phone in their back pocket. When they sit, sometimes the phone goes for a dive. Considering the Galaxy Fold is longer and thicker than most phones — think a candy bar, or a TV remote — it absolutely shouldn’t be living in anyone’s back pocket.

Great expectations

The real issue I have with complaints about water resistance is the frankly unfair expectations we have. The Galaxy Fold is the current pinnacle of mobile technology. This is a folding screen device. It represents the first generation of what could possibly be a revolution.

Even if the Fold’s form factor doesn’t catch on, even if sales never rise above a few meager percent of the global market, we are still seeing an actual revolution in design.

Read more: When will folding phones become actually affordable?

Sure, flagship features are nice to have, but they also add costs. There are limits, people. Sure, it’s a $2000 phone, but believe it or not, there are some costs involved in pioneering technology.

Let’s take a second and step back. What do people really care about? At this stage of a new concept, it’s solely the core functionality that matters: the display, how it works, how the device handles switching between open and closed, how the crease looks, what it feels like, how the hinge feels, if it’s too heavy to be practical, and so on.

There are also cost implications. OnePlus once told me that adding IP rating certification for dust and water resistance for OnePlus devices would add significant cost that would almost certainly be passed on to consumers.

These costs are high because IP certification isn’t proven once on a lone test device. Every single device that OnePlus produces would need to be tested to ensure it meets the dust and water resistance benchmarks of its chosen IP rating, such as the most common rating of IP68.

Reviewers always lament that OnePlus devices don’t have an IP rating. Then they make sure they mention the great value the phone offers. Adding IP certification would easily add a considerable cost to each device — as much as a 25 percent price increase according to fellow affordable phone maker Xiaomi.

OnePlus has marked their line in the sand. It is now a top five smartphone brand in the high-end segment, even without an official IP rating. Meanwhile, LG has taken durability and devices protection to the extreme by offering MIL-STD-810G compliant smartphones for years, yet its mobile division it loses money hand over fist.

The Galaxy Fold might still be a questionable device; it clearly isn’t a perfect one, or Samsung wouldn’t have hid it from reviewers until about two weeks before launch. It may or may not be worth $1,980. But I’m absolutely not deciding that based on whether it has water resistance or not.

Do you care about water resistance on the Samsung Galaxy Fold? Let us know in the comments!

Up next: HUAWEI Mate X vs Samsung Galaxy Fold: Who did the foldable phone better?

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