Samsung Fined Over Misleading Wet Phone Ads


Samsung Electronics has been fined A$14 million ($9.6 million) after it admitted misleading consumers about how wet its smartphones can safely get.

An Australian court found the local unit of the South Korean electronics giant misled phone buyers about the result of Samsung Galaxy phones being submerged in pool or sea water.

The false or misleading claims were made about the water resistance of the S7, S7 Edge, A5 (2017), A7 (2017), S8, S8 Plus and Note 8 phones. There were more than 3.1 million of these Galaxy phones sold in Australia.

Between March 2016 and October 2018, Samsung Australia conducted a marketing campaign published across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, on its website, and in-store, which claimed Galaxy phones were suitable for pool and sea water.

Samsung Australia has acknowledged that if the Galaxy phones were submerged in pool or sea water it was likely that the charging port would become corroded and stop working if the phone was charged while still wet.

“Samsung Australia’s water resistance claims promoted an important selling point for these Galaxy phones,” said Gina Cass-Gottlieb, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which brought the case to Federal Court.

“We reviewed hundreds of complaints from consumers who reported they experienced issues with their Galaxy phones after it was exposed to water and, in many cases, they reported their Galaxy phone stopped working entirely,” Cass-Gottlieb said.

“This penalty is a strong reminder to businesses that all product claims must be substantiated,” she added.


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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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