More than one smartphone owner has posed the question, “Why can’t they make these things more durable?”
Unfortunately, the question is usually asked after the fact, when your device has already impacted with a hard surface or been immersed in some kind of liquid – both conditions which are usually instantly and irrevocably fatal. Even life-saving efforts like trying to dry out a damp phone in rice or the microwave, or tape together cracked components, are only occasionally effective.
Cynics among us may say these pricey gadgets are made so fragile in order to keep us buying new ones – if they were 100 percent indestructible, no-one would ever need to upgrade, right? Or maybe extra protection could drive prices too high – if a standard smartphone costs a certain amount, consumers may not want to pay a lot more for something like waterproofing.
It sure would be nice if all phones had better water protection. But they’re getting there. In fact, in the last year, several models have come onto the market and more are in the works:
- Sony’s Xperia Z, which came out in early 2013, includes a waterproof case that not only helps when water is splashed on it, but can actually withstand being up to a metre deep for 30 minutes. Along with the waterproofing, the screen and case is also extra durable with scratchproof Dragontail Glass.
- Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Active has similar protective features, including meeting the same 30 minutes/1 metre threshold and the same 5-inch screen, but it’s also made of Gorilla Glass 3, which is said to be thicker and more durable than Dragontail or earlier Gorilla versions. Even better, the camera also allows underwater photography.
- Casio G’Zone Commando 4G. It’s smaller and has a slower processor and smaller screen than the previous two models, but is also designed to sync with a Casio wristwatch.
In addition to more choices in waterproof hardware, smartphone users are finding more options to preserve their existing phones from the elements. Lifeproof Fre, Otterbox, Griffin + Catalyst and Incipio Atlas make cases/skins for iPhones and Android devices that are designed to keep water and dust out but still allow you to use touchscreen features. The Atlas, for instance, is designed to handle drops and immersion down to 9 feet. The company also offers customers free insurance for the first year – though you can always look at services such as gadget-cover.com insurance for any device.
Technology experts are saying that over the next few years we’ll see more ‘wearable’ electronic products, such as Google Glass, smart watches or small ‘smart’ sensors on sports clothes that can help keep track of our fitness progress like our heart rate or steps taken.
So it seems natural that our phones will be part of this push to be better integrated into our lifestyles. Rather than having to shove one’s phone in the club locker or leave it in the car, we can now take it with us when we swim – it can keep track of our strokes or even play music for us during our workout.
Charlotte Barnes has been a technophile for long enough to have seen a lot of devices come and go. Whether it’s tablets, headphones, games consoles or more, Charlotte knows what the next big thing is – and what the last big disappointment was too.