x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Water-resistant smartphones

The Life: The rise of water-resistant smartphones means there are now even fewer mobile-free bastions.

A water-resistant Fujitsu Apollo smartphone gets a dip during a demonstration at the World Mobile Forum in Spain this year. Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg News
A water-resistant Fujitsu Apollo smartphone gets a dip during a demonstration at the World Mobile Forum in Spain this year. Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg News

Very few places offer refuge from the all-pervasive smartphone.

A long-distance flight once meant a few hours of blissful service interruption, while a trip on an underground train derailed the relentless stream of work emails.

But that is changing.

Emirates Airline, for example, now offers mobile-phone connectivity on more than 100 flights a day and says that number is growing. In London, plans are under way to offer mobile connectivity in underground trains and stations.

Aside from remote desert areas, watery environments like the sea and swimming pools were among the few remaining sanctuaries away from the smartphone.

Yet this is changing, too. The launch of several water-resistant smartphones on the market means even a poolside drink can be punctuated by a call - from under the water.

"The last phone-free bastion has fallen," as one Twitter user based in the UAE tweeted recently.

Fujitsu said last month that it hoped to launch its waterproof smartphone, currently available only in Japan, in the Middle East. Though it has not set a launch date for the region, the company demonstrated this model in the UAE - showing it could still ring with an incoming call while half-submerged in a glass of water.

"You can do your emails when you take a shower or when you're in the bathtub," Uwe Neumeier, the vice president of global server sales at Fujitsu, said at the time.

Its rival brand Sony is ahead of the game, having earlier this year announced plans to launch two water-resistant smartphones in the Middle East before the end of 2012.

One solution to this constant connectivity is turning your phone off every now and then. Yet many smartphone users - addicted to those blinking message notifications - are reluctant to do so.

And now they can even avoid a bout of cold turkey while performing the once-private sanctity of personal ablutions.

bflanagan@thenational.ae