Samsung has been fined $14 million for misleading consumers about the water resistance of Galaxy smartphones. 

Samsung Australia has copped the fine after courts found it had suggested the phones could safely be submerged in pool or sea water.

In an ad campaign that ran from March 2016 to October 2018, Samsung made claimed including: “There's an underwater selfie in your future”, and that the phones were water-resistant to 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes.

“A phone can't swim the 100 metres”, another ad said, followed by the hashtag “#Dowhatyoucant” and accompanied by footage of a phone getting splashed with water.

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

The fine is the result of legal action instigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). 

“Samsung Australia’s water resistance claims promoted an important selling point for these Galaxy phones. Many consumers who purchased a Galaxy phone may have been exposed to the misleading ads before they made their decision to purchase a new phone,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

“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,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

The majority of Samsung Australia’s contravening conduct occurred prior to the increase of maximum penalties for breaches of the Australian Consumer Law. Similar conduct under the new penalty regime could give rise to greater penalties.

Samsung Australia admitted that it had contravened Australian Consumer Law and made joint submissions with the ACCC in respect of penalties and orders.

Consumers who purchased one of the relevant Galaxy phones and experienced damage to the charging port after submerging the phone in pool or sea water and then attempting to charge the phone while water remained in the port are encouraged to contact Samsung Australia.