Taking A Look Inside: Dust And Water Resistance
One feature that's been gradually gaining popularity in smartphones over the past few years is protection from dust and water. While it does add to the BOM cost of a phone, its usefulness is readily apparent to anyone who has brought their phone to the beach or dropped it in the toilet. Sony is one of the biggest proponents of this functionality, with several of its Xperia phones offering protection from the elements. Several other OEMs, like Motorola and now HTC with the Desire Eye (IPX7), also include some form of protection for select phones. Samsung too has offered specialized versions of its phones with environment protection like the Galaxy S4 Active. The Galaxy S5, however, marks the first time Samsung offers this feature on a conventional flagship model.
With an IP67 rating, the S5 is completely sealed against dust contamination and can be immersed in liquid up to 1m deep for 30 minutes. This presents special design challenges to ensure all buttons, speakers and ports are sealed. Other parts like the camera module and LED flash/heart rate sensor module are already airtight. The removable back cover requires a rubber gasket, not to keep water out of the cover, but to isolate the battery and openings that lead to to the interior of the device (such as the microSD and microSIM slots).
While the headphone jack does not require any sort of plug, the micro-USB 3.0 port requires a gasketed flap to keep dust and water out. This flap is not unique to the S5, as other IP-rated phones like Sony's Xperia Z series also use a flap to seal the USB port. This flap is a mild inconvenience, since it needs to opened and closed every time you want to charge the phone; however, the added protection it provides is probably worthwhile.
After every charge and boot sequence, the phone reminds the user to preserve the IP67 rating by securing the back cover and making sure the USB flap is closed. This reminder gets old fast, but is necessary considering how rushed and absentminded people can be—just think about how many folks you see driving around with their car's gas cap dangling against the fender.
Removing the back cover reveals the sensitive parts the rubber gasket needs to protect. In addition to the battery and card slots, the pins for connecting the optional wireless charging cover also need protection.
Above the battery and to the right of the camera are the microSIM and microSD card slots. While it's good to see the inclusion of the microSD card slot (a staple of Samsung phones), we are a bit surprised to see Samsung continue to use microSIM cards.
The company continues to provide a removable battery for its Galaxy phones (in this case 2800mAh). Since the battery houses the NFC components, care needs to be taken when ordering additional batteries to ensure they support NFC.
Having dust and water resistance is a plus for the Galaxy S5. The flap covering the USB port adds some inconvenience, but it's a small price to pay for the additional protection it affords your phone.