Xperia Z2-white

It’s a contender for the device of the year, with a high res 20.7 MP shooter, beautiful screen, stereo speakers all sandwiched between two slates of glass and a beautiful design. What’s the most amazing feature here is the IP58 (Ingress Protection) rating that Sony says allows the device to stay continuously immersed in 1.5 metres of fresh water for up to 30 minutes.

I laid my hands on the Sony Xperia Z2 on the first day it arrived at the Indian markets and in less than 24 hours, was extremely tempted to test its underwater shooting capability. Being the third iteration of the long successful Xperia Z series, you expect top of the line quality. Having a freshwater aquarium at home, I dunked the phone in with the video camera turned on and recorded a 1 minute 21 seconds video. To playback the video, I pulled out the phone and horror began.

The display started flickering, and I immediately realized that water had entered the phone. Running the first measures of salvaging the phone through my head, I tried turning the phone off, but the digitizer won’t register clicks and the power button too kept clicking all by itself. Even after pressing the emergency off button that Sony has resided besides the SIM Card tray, the phone would turn on automatically for no reason. In five minutes, the display died.

In a phone with removable battery, this damage can be averted by simply removing the battery, and placing the phone either in a bag of rice, or using a hair dryer or placing it over a CRT screen or a stabilizer. With a phone that doesn’t have a removable battery and no permanent ways of turning off the phone, if the power button stops functioning, you have a phone that’ll stay on no matter what you try or do. Running electricity and water are the best recipe for disaster here.

Getting back to the phone, the front and rear camera were now covered in moisture even when the flaps were secured in place. So to show the extent of damage and assess the waterproofing, I immediately rushed to a nearby service center (only 2 kms away) and complained of how a waterproof phone got filled with water in less than two minutes and barely 4 cm of depth. The technician collected the phone and rushed in to inspect, but returned in less than a minute.

Now here’s how customers are treated by Sony Mobile. In the little time the technician had with my phone, I’d rather not call this guy an engineer, he had already inspected the phone. He showed me that the water damage strip inside the SIM card slot had turned RED, a sign of liquid damage due to user mishandling and therefore concluded that the phone’s warranty was void and had to be replaced under Accidental Damage Protection (ADP), a plan that Sony offers for a one time free replacement within Six months of purchase for any damage that happens due to the user.

My question to the learned technician and all of Sony Mobile customer representatives is simple. How you straight away link liquid damage to user mishandling, and how can you do so within a minute. Also, in the HIGHLY UNLIKELY case of it being a manufacturing defect with the phone, would you continue to blame the user and make him bear the expense of it?

I spoke to the customer care executive, the senior customer care executive and what not, but the only reply I received is that it cannot be considered a manufacturing defect and that Sony phones are made under the best possible manufacturing conditions, which makes it impossible for the water to have gone in from elsewhere and blah blah.

An Accidental Damage Protection plan is designed to save the user from having to bear the cost of an Accidental Damage like him smashing the phone against the floor or dipping it in water deeper than 1.5m or maybe in a washing machine where the water pressures are much higher than the device is rated for. It is not to cover manufacturing defects of the phone. While most Sony executives would disagree, I suggest they see the following pics and assess for themselves.

The front glass is slightly off, resulting in a not so waterproof fit and hence the water damage.

For Sony:

We buy your phones in good spirit assuming everything you market and advertise so hard with our money is entirely true. While I agree a lot of users would cover up their mistakes in the name of warranty and try to save money, you need to have a better mechanism of customer redressal than simply suggesting that all that goes wrong is the user’s fault.

No one tests the phone for waterproofing at the time of purchase, and it would only be in your favour if you had a water testing facility at your service centers, which at present, here in New Delhi, is non-existent.

For Users:

I’d suggest you to stay away from dipping your phones into water or spraying it with water unless you’ve really scrutinized in depth the joints, the side panels and maybe still, you could end up with a dead phone. You may want to get it water tested at Sony Mobile service centers, but its highly unlikely that they would do it for you as of now.