By Steve Venuti, VP Strategic Solutions
Every major step forward in the development of mobile device technologies has stemmed from addressing the greatest consumer desires. From the desire for greater processing power to increased memory to enhanced camera capabilities and more, the mobile phone has grown to satisfy and adapt to all of these needs. However, according to Simon McElrea, CEO of Semblant Inc., there are still some remaining areas that need improvement:
“There are only three mobile consumer anxieties left to address that are key differentiators in a world of increasing commoditization…One of them is battery life. The second is SLR-like camera performance. The last and most significant is robustness” (Semblant)
One pressing challenge that still proves to be difficult for mobile developers relates to the durability and robustness of their mobile phones, especially in terms of a waterproofed device. Although smartphone sales have reached nearly 2 billion devices per year, there are still “25% of these mobile devices being returned, repaired, or replaced, [and] the problem is costing the industry billions of dollars per year” (Semblant). As phones are growing more expensive due to better design and higher quality, damage to mobile devices from everyday use, especially liquids, remains a pervasive issue. While some working solutions such as sturdy cases and waterproof phones currently exist, they have yet to fully address this problem without a few drawbacks.
For example, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of the first to boast its water defying capabilities, showing advertisements with actors literally pouring liquids on the phone to no effect. Yet when some users decided to personally put the S7’s water resistance to the test, they discovered it wasn’t as flawless as it proclaimed. After submerging the phone in 5 feet of water for 30 minutes, the testers discovered that although the device was mostly fine, the “audio [was] permanently muffled and distorted” (Cnet).
The testers also decided to try out the iPhone, but needless to say it quickly became a useless brick before even reaching the 30-minute mark. Even Samsung writes in small print that the S7 is only water resistant up to 1 meter for 30 minutes, and alternative Lifeproof brand cases are supposedly only submersible up to 6.6. feet for 1 hour. Full waterproof resistance seems to float just out of reach, but the point here isn’t to hang Samsung or the current solutions out to dry. The point is to isolate the problem.
Where do these phones look the most vulnerable? Where does the water damage, the physical wear and tear, and the dust intrude on the device’s structural integrity? Look at the gaping holes. While these ports play integral roles in the device’s ability to charge battery and transfer data, they are also its most dangerous and structurally limiting features. Existing solutions are taking the right steps towards creating truly durable devices, but the port still remains as the final obstacle.
Remove the holes, remove the phone’s vulnerable points, and insulate the device’s delicate electronics. Taking out these literal holes in design will usher in a new era of rugged mobile devices impenetrable by dust, lint, dirt, and all other invaders not limited to just liquids. Only then will the dream of fully waterproof, hardy devices with beautiful, elegant, and long lasting designs be realized.
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