Samsung Gear S2 Issues With Water Rev. 3.0

The new Samsung Gear S2 is a really impressive smartwatch. Samsung eschewed the rectangular Gear S design for the more elegant round face in the Gear S2. It was also noticeably worked better with water, easily tackling rain drops and showers that would have driven the earlier Gear S crazy.

Samsung Gear S2 Issues With Water

However, we identified two Gear S2 issues with water exposure. Let’s take a look at what those problems are and how you can solve them.

Updated @ 20-01-2016 : Added a video showing one of the Gear S2 issues we identified – the reboot loop. We also added additional information, includinga new solution for this problem.

Updated @ 30-03-2016 : Added a second video showing our Gear S2 in its dying throes, and our experience sending it for inspection and repair.

 

Improved IP Rating

The IP (Ingress Protection) rating is an international certification of a device’s ability to withstand the ingress of dust or dirt (the first number), and moisture or water (the second number).

The Samsung Gear S2 boasts an improved IP68 rating – one notch above that of its predecessor, the Gear S, when it comes to protection against water ingress. Officially, the IP68 rating means the Gear S2 is able to withstand a water depth of 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes.

The earlier Gear S smartwatch was only IP67-certified, which means it is only rated to a shallower water depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

For all intents and purposes though, both the Gear S and the newer Gear S2 are “waterproof” enough for you to wear them when you take a bath, swim or even go snorkelling. Only divers should not take their Gear S or newer Gear S2 on their dives.

Now, let’s take a look at the two Gear S2 issues we identified, and their solutions.

 

Problem #1 : Spontaneous Reboots

On three occasions, the Samsung Gear S2 automatically rebooted itself while being subjected to a shower test. In all three instances, the Gear S2 was not being used, just worn on the wrist. The buttons were not being pressed, or the bezel turned, when it rebooted by itself.

The first and last occasions were particularly severe with the Gear S2 stuck on a reboot loop. Despite our best efforts, it refused to shut down or boot up properly for at least 15 minutes. But we managed to get it to boot up properly.

Possible Cause : We suspect that the Gear S2 has a hermetically-sealed inner compartment, with the physical buttons activating touch sensors on the outside of the sealed compartment. If so, the ingress of water may “short” the contacts for both buttons, essentially behaving as if the user was pressing both buttons together. That would cause the Gear S2 to reboot… and keep rebooting.
Possible Solution #1 : If it only reboots once, just let it boot up and it will continue on its merry way. No harm done. But if you are stuck in a reboot loop, dry off the Samsung Gear S2 and shake it to remove any water that may have seeped under the buttons.

Then press the Home / Power button (that’s the lower button) until the Gear S2 shuts down. It may take you 15 minutes or more to do so. After it shuts down properly, you can power it up and it will boot up normally.

Possible Solution #2 : If the reboot loop persists, hold the Gear S2 in one hand and tap the edge with the two buttons firmly against the palm of the other hand.

In the video above, you see me tapping that edge against the table. Do the same, just harder, against the palm. This will shake out whatever water is inside the case, and the Gear S2 will boot up properly.

 

Problem #2 : Stuck Back Button

Out of the shower, we experienced problems with the Back button (that’s the upper button) on the Gear S2. It suddenly refused to work. However, it magically came back to life after a shower test… twice!

Possible Cause : Going back to the hypothesis of a hermetically-sealed inner compartment with contact sensors for the physical buttons, we suspect that soap may have gotten in between the Back button and its sensor contact. The soap could have dried on the contacts, preventing the Back button presses from registering on the Gear S2.
Possible Solution : Run the Gear S2 under the shower, or dunk it into a bowl of water. The “malfunctioning” button will come to life after some time. You can test it by pressing it under water, although we would recommend that you take it out of the water before pressing it. Once it starts working, you can dry off the Gear S2.

 

Our Gear S2 Died & Was Reborn New!

We sent the Gear S2 for a week-long test with Samsung, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with it. After we got it back, we continued testing it, and it would spontaneously reboot now and then. Sometimes, it would get stuck in a reboot loop, which we we managed to resolve using the two methods above.

That ended on February 18, when our Gear S2 suddenly went into a reboot loop that ended in its demise. We left it to recharge overnight, and when we checked it in the morning, it was in a reboot loop. It appeared to be stuck in the reboot loop for several hours because it was very hot, and its battery was almost drained despite the Gear S2 being on its charging cradle.

While we tried to get it out of its reboot loop, its display started to go crazy. Take a look at the video we took :

Eventually, the display would a distorted picture with a cacophony of colours. It was a lost cause, so we sent it to Samsung for another check-up.

Despite their very thorough checks over 2 weeks, they could not determine what caused our Gear S2 to malfunction like that. It was not due to the ingress of water into the unit, although they asked me if the Gear S2 suffered any strong impact (it didn’t).

In the end, Samsung replaced the entire watch unit (sans straps), and we have not experienced any issue whatsoever with the new unit. So we now think that the previous unit was a “lemon”. After all, all of our friends (8 of them) who also use the Gear S2 did not experience any problem.

Samsung tells us that anyone who faces any issues with their Gear S2 smartwatch should send them in for a comprehensive inspection. Don’t wait. That’s what the warranty is for. Thanks, Samsung!

 

Facing Other Gear S2 Issues?

This article was based on our experience with the Gear S2 over the last 5 weeks. If you have any other Gear S2 issues, whether they are related to water exposure or otherwise, please let us know!

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18 Comments

  1. Pingback: Samsung Gear S2 - Unboxing & First Impressions - Tech ARP

  2. Alexis Plaza

    Samsung returned me my samsung gear s2 claiming beyond economical repair. The only time that I remember it ever got wet was with raidrops. The watch suddenly didnt start or charge. Now im stock with a device that wont work and not even a discount on a new one and still i have to pay the monthly bill and plan until I purchase a new one under my 2 year contract with at&t. Any suggestions.

    Reply
    1. Dr. Adrian Wong

      Sorry for the late reply. I have actually gone through the warranty booklet included with the Gear S2, as I’m sure you have too by now. It’s quite useless in this regard.

      I honestly don’t know why your Gear S2 would have water-damaged electronics since it has only been subjected to raindrops. I have personally taken the Gear S2 on over a hundred showers. Samsung also soaked my Gear S2 in a bucket of water for a whole week. Never had a catastrophic failure like that.

      Perhaps you can take photos of your device and share with us?

      I’m not sure how to proceed with Samsung, except to point out to them that their Gear S2 is IP67 rated. Then again, how will you prove that you did not use it beyond its IP67 rating, e.g. taking it below 1 m of water (up to 30 minutes)? That’s the problem…

      Reply
    1. Dr. Adrian Wong

      Hi More Saddiq,

      Unfortunately, I’m only using the Bluetooth model, which does not come with a speaker. You should send your Gear S2 to Samsung for inspection.

      The Gear S2 is IP67-rated, and should have no problem surviving getting washed with your dishes. But it is possible that some soap may have gotten into the speaker and dried on it.

      If you must try something before sending it to Samsung, you can try soaking it in water. If any soap dried and clogged up the speaker, the water should clear that up.

      Reply
    2. Brian

      i’ve read about this issue a couple of places and don’t know why it isn’t more talked about. i took my S2 3G for a couple of swims and had similar issues. my solution was to take a compressed air can and blast all the water out of the speaker slots. i tried just blowing it out w/ my mouth, but wasn’t as effective.

      some other comments i saw were to just let the watch dry for a couple of hours and then i goes back to normal, but that didn’t work for me. i gave my phone overnight and it was still muffled, but the compressed air blast did the trick.

      Reply
  3. Geoff

    My gear s2 is still on rebooting loop. Can i charge it? I’m thinking that ut kay dry up the excess water inside

    Reply
    1. Dr. Adrian Wong

      If I were you, I would try to knock out the water. But take care NOT to hit it directly on a hard surface. Just tap it on your hand and whatever water is in it will come out.

      But I just spoke to Samsung earlier today about this issue, and they recommend you bring in the Gear S2 for a check-up. If it’s a defective unit, they will repair or replace it for you.

      Reply
  4. Fernando

    i was thrown into the sea from a low pier, the water was waist deep, my gear S2 died short after it, the screen is black, the unit seems to charge but sisn the screen is black i cant tell if it is in a loop or what.

    Reply
  5. William Burnette

    I have a S2 for a little over a month when the display stopped working. I sent it back for warranty repair and got the watch back with a letter saying it was beyond repair. I called support and they said it was due to water damage so would not be covered. The only time the watch ever got wet was from sweat on my arm. It was never immersed, worn in the shower or subjected to water in any way. i explained this to the CSR, and asked to speak to a supervisor. After being on hold for several minutes they came back and said they would note my ticket, send me a shipping label and I could send it back for re-evalutaion. After not receiving the label for a day, I called back and was told nothing had been noted and I was basically out of luck. Spoke to a supervisor again, same thing. I am very disappointed in this product!

    Reply
    1. Dr. Adrian Wong

      That’s the limitation of the Samsung warranty on their IP68-rated Gear S2. It is not waterproof but water-resistant.

      It will survive a dunk in the pool, but not water under pressure. Even water falling from a tap / shower may be strong enough to penetrate into it.

      In your case, it’s rather bizarre since it was not subject to any actual water immersion.

      Reply
    2. Dale

      Just had a similar experience with Samsung’s lack of customer service. I have never showered with my Gear S2, nor immersed it in water. My watch began powering off within 30-45 seconds of powering up with the message ‘…powering down to cool off’. This happens every time I attempt to power it on. Sent in to Samsung for evaluation and they returned it with the message that it is liquid damage and therefore not ‘economical to repair’- essentially not covered by the warranty. I suspect that is their stock response to customers to avoid repairs for their defective hardware. I will not be purchasing another Samsung device.

      Reply
        1. jeff

          Definitely not IP68. Add another dead watch to the mix w/a dead display, but the vibrate works…

          Very disappointed. I feel cheated. Will send to Samsung to see what they say, but it went into the above-ground pool for 10 mins. Way under the limit, and I only waded, no swimming. Rebooted in the water, so I took it off. Seemed to be working fine. Checked the display before bed, all was fine but now this morning there is no display. There’s no way this is IP68…

          Reply
          1. Dr. Adrian Wong

            Actually, it is IP68. But you have to be VERY CAREFUL about the water pressure. That’s what most people “miss”. Everyone remembers that IP68 means using it in less than 1.5 m of water for less than 30 minutes.

            But the full IP68 limits are thus – 15-35 °C, 86-106 kPa, 1.5 metre, 30 minutes. If you exceed ANY ONE of them, the water-resistant lining may be breached.

            You might want to read this – http://www.techarp.com/articles/samsung-galaxy-s7-ip68-rating/

  6. Sarah

    The mainboard went on my Samsung gear s2 after a year and 5 months. $180 to repair it. Mine was just faulty… Fun times.

    Reply

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