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  1. Thread Author  Thread Author    #1  

    Angry Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Water leaks through screen & Teardown Study (W/Pics)

    My GALAXY S4 ACTIVE is a WATER BOTTLE!

    Before you ask if I properly sealed the phone or did I press above the ATT logo, the simple answer is YES. I am a seaman, snowboarder, adventurer and gadget lover just like you who fully understand how water is hazardous to our beloved electronics and the steps it takes to prevent accidents. So please read on

    The new Galaxy S4 Active attracted my attention because of its waterproof capabilities (as in the advertisements) and the ability to change batteries seem to suit my needs so I grabbed one and decided to take the new phone for a spin.

    Test 1 – Messaging in bathroom with wet hands (No direct spraying & submersion at all)
    I made sure everything is sealed properly and pressed below the flash, inspected every seal. Then I took it to the bathroom and typed a few messages with wet hands briefly to test the water resistant ability. I dried it with a tower after us and everything was normal.

    After an hour or so, I suddenly realized there are strange spikes on the top left part of the screen. They did not look like water damage and the spikes persists in recovery mode as well so it is not software issue. The spikes eventually went away slowly after ~5 hours. This started to get me worried.

    Test 2 – Submersion Test (1.5 cm water depth)
    So I did the seal inspection again. Left it submerged in a plastic tray with about 1.5 cm height of clean water for around one minutes (Not 1.5 Meters!). Everything looked normal. After a while, the screen started showing spikes again but this time there are lots of “fog” marks at the back of the display! Water got in! The watermarks move if I press my finger on the screen hard enough! As with all electronics and phones, water leaking into the device mean it will quickly disrupt the functionality of the components and eventually shut the whole system down. Rust and deposits will then form if water is not drained out immediately. However, my Galaxy S4 Active CONTINUED TO RUN NORMALLY except for the “flooded” screen. Very confusing indeed!

    Again, I waited more than half a day and then the watermarks started to clear away VERY SLOWLY. I put it in a warm place (without overheating and melting it) hoping it to dry out. On day 3, all the fog and marks on the screen are gone. The phone continued to function well. WTF?



    This picture shows the initial spikes at the top left edge in Test 1. Now also on the right side and the “foggy” watermarks all over the screen after Test 2.

    The Tear Down
    So I decided to tear it down to solve the mystery. The tear down was carefully performed without damaging it. It’s much easier than taking down iPhones. I found that the side of the phone is completely sealed off by a red gasket. Water should not be able to seep in from the sides. The earphone plug is indeed fully potted and waterproof, the microphone and camera are sealed off also. It looks safe. What’s more interesting is that the two water damage stickers are INTACT! No signs of water entering the circuit boards either. No traces of rusting or depositions. It’s CLEAN!



    Tear down was simple. The Red Gasket is clearly seen.



    The PCB shows no sign of water damage.



    The Water Damage Indicator Sticker is clean!

    I suspect that the Water Seeped into the screen from the front. Since the screen is completely bonded with the touch panel, there is no way to take them apart without breaking things. This is BAD! The water must have seeped into the screen ONLY. So no matter how I do the seals properly, the screen will still fill up with water while the phone electronics are dry and continue to run normally. A few S4 Active owners have reported this problem also. This is CLEARLY NOT USER ERROR! Has this happened to you? I have read similar stories of the screen flooding on the internet.

    WHAT NOW?

    Test 3 will take place and I am going to submerge the phone again and take video of it to proof that water does get into the display despite being fully & properly sealed.
    Last edited by Greenbot; 08-07-2013 at 05:06 AM.
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  2. #2  
    Scott Kenyon's Avatar

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    Default Re: Samsung Galaxy S4 Active First Teardown & Water Damage Report (W/Pics)

    You really went the extra mile here. I don't have one of these, but had to give it a read. Thanks for the post. I've seen a lot of posts about problems with the water resistance. Now there's something to answer them with.
    Thanks for taking the time to test and post.

    Sent from my HTC One using Mobile Nations mobile app
  3. Thread Author  Thread Author    #3  

    Default Re: Samsung Galaxy S4 Active First Teardown & Water Damage Report (W/Pics)

    An update here. It is confirmed that the water gets in through the edges of the screen where it meets the bezel. The phone was submerged up to just below the screen level and it was "waterproof". You CAN get water into your phone even if you seal the backcover properly if your phone has this defect.

    I am going to use a silicone glue to seal the gap as I don't think we will get a replacement anytime soon.
  4. #4  

    Default Re: Samsung Galaxy S4 Active First Teardown & Water Damage Report (W/Pics)

    Thanks for testing the phone and posting your findings. I bought the phone, not because I wanted to take underwater pics or anything, but because I wanted to not have to worry if I knock my phone in the sink like I've done in the past. I'm too scared to get it wet & test it out. Thanks for being brave.
  5. #5  
    floridarick's Avatar

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    Default Re: Samsung Galaxy S4 Active First Teardown & Water Damage Report (W/Pics)

    Send it back to Samsung!!!! They will 100% replace it with a new phone. They replaced mine after water leaked in through the battery door.
  6. #6  

    Default Re: Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Water leaks through screen & Teardown Study (W/Pics)

    Same thing happened to mine. Neither damage indicator was tripped. Water behind the screen.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using Tapatalk 2

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