Sony loses class-action lawsuit over 24 “waterproof” phones and tablets

Sony used to make a big deal of its phones and tablets being waterproof – long before flagship handsets from the likes of Samsung and Apple were touting their resistant credentials, Sony was pushing it hard. You may remember early press shots of the Xperia Z3 being used to take photos in a swimming pool (reproduced above) before any promise of waterproofing was quietly withdrawn from the specs list some months later.

They changed their advice with good reason: a lot of people were finding their waterproof phones mysteriously suffering from water damage. And now the Japanese giant has reached a preliminary settlement in the class-action lawsuit that followed: it will offer a 50% refund of a handset’s RRP if a customer had to file water-damage claims. You’ll also qualify for a year-long extension to your warranty, which won’t be much good for the Xperia Z1, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.

This is a huge climbdown. To be clear, the class-action lawsuit covered no less than 24 phones and tablets released between 2013 and 2015. Everything from the Xperia Z5 to the ironically named Xperia M4 Aqua is covered under the suit.

While it only covers users in the United States and won’t be much help for 2013 handsets long since replaced, this is an important settlement. By their very largescale nature, class-action lawsuits tend to be for relatively small amounts (you could claim $9 if you bought a PS3 under the impression you could install Linux on it, for example), so a 50% refund is actually quite major – not to mention legal precedents this case may end up setting. At the very least, it should make phone manufacturers extra careful that they can cash the cheques that their marketing departments write.

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