Samsung released a 36 second pre-launch video on Friday with no less than four very soggy hints that its Galaxy S5 smartphone is waterproof. The S5 debuts in Barcelona, Spain on February 24th. The market called, and Sam-sung back. The video shows people having all kinds of fun, including splooshing down a water slide, jumping off a lake pier, diving into a swimming pool (while playing a trumpet underwater) and lounging on a float at the beach. There are lots of other fabulous features hinted at in the video, but waterproofing is likely to be the feature that inspires the stampede.
Who has not dunked their phone in the drink at some time or another? Samsung began moving in the durability direction last summer with it’s launch of the S4 Active, which was intended to protect against water and dust from outdoor activities, but response from consumers and reviewers was mixed.
In the past, a quick dip required elaborate resuscitation processes. Instruction number one: keep calm and take the phone out of the water. This can be difficult for people who have just destroyed a $400-$800 piece of personally critical technology. Step number two: take off the back cover and remove the battery, microSD card and SIM as quickly as possible. Good luck with that one, iPhone users. Step three: wipe down the soggy phone. Step four: place the phone in a dry safe place for 48 hours and pray for a miracle.
Some folks like the uncooked rice approach. Rice absorbs nearby moisture, which can help bring little tech darlings back to life, assuming the circuits were not blown during the dive. Finally, after all the above efforts have failed, it is time to review the warranty, which of course is void when malfunction is due to moisture. What a relief that those days might finally be gone.
Despite sunny predictions for Samsung’s Galaxy S5, the pre-launch video hints of waterproof wonder were not enough to turn the world rosy for the Korean electronics giant. The first completely crowd-sourced South Korean film, Another Promise, is proving to be another and then another pain in the company’s ass.
Samsung’s first problem is the growing popularity of Another Promise in Korea. The film fictionalizes the true story of Hwang Sang-ki and his daughter, Hwang Yu-mi. Hwang Yu-mi died at age 23 from leukemia, which her father believed she developed due to exposure to harmful chemicals at a Samsung factory in Suwon, South Korea. Approximately 200 workers in semiconductor factories around the world have similarly become ill. In 2011, a court in Seoul, South Korea agreed with Hwang Sang-ki’s claim that toxic chemicals in the workplace were the cause of his daughter’s illness.
On February 5th, the Korean online newspaper, NewDaily Biz, published a story about how high profile people were hosting personally funded screenings of Another Promise. Samsung executives complained about the article to the newspaper’s president. He ordered the offending story removed from the site. He then sent an apology by text message, which was meant to go to executives at Samsung. Instead, the message was sent to reporters at another Korean journal, Pressian, which proceeded to publish the message. The suggestion in the text is that NewDaily Biz pulled the story due at Samsung’s request. Samsung insists it did not pressure the online paper.
The excitement generated by Samsung’s pre-launch video hints that the Galaxy S5 is waterproof is likely to be dampened as word of Another Promise spreads. Perhaps Samsung’s executives should hide in a safe dry place with a bag of rice for a couple of days.
By Melissa Roddy