Surviving a swim
A liquid repellent coating for phones proves there is life after a spill, writes Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
Liquipel, $99 liquipel.com.au
AGAINST every rule of gadgetry, one Australian firm is telling users their phones can survive a dip in a pool, a dunk in a toilet or a desk-side spill.
But first the phone must be locked in a vacuum, sprayed with a nano-technology vapour and dried until the coating is invisible.
The technology is called Liquipel and it’s been brought to Australia by the Vita Group, owners of Fone Zone.
For $99, the company will treat smartphones, from Apple iPhones to Samsung and HTC devices, with the special vapour that coats the devices inside and out, protecting their workings from water damage.
Vita Group co-founder David McMahon says he discovered Liquipel’s Californian creator at the Consumer Electronics Show this year and brought the product to Australia after seeing too many phones lose battles with water.
Dropping phones into toilets seems to be a common story . . . that or having a phone in a top pocket and leaning over a pool,’’ McMahon says.
The (Liquipel) phone I’m using is an iPhone 4S that has been under water 15 to 20 times in the past month.
I’ve been tempted to show off with mates on a Saturday night and drop of beer.’’
A coating machine, based in Brisbane, can treat up to 160 devices an hour.
McMahon says the machine first sucks the air out of the room, creating a vacuum, sprays the liquid treatment in a vapour that coats the phones inside and out (entering headphone and charging ports) and then dries as an invisible coating.
The treatment can be added to existing phones sent to the company, at Fone Zone and selected Telstra stores, or bought in a pre-treated device.
With great trepidation, Switched On tested a Liquipeltreated Samsung Galaxy S III device. Spilling water on this
it in a jug fresh phone was nerveracking, but the water instantly formed a bead on the phone’s screen before slipping off. The phone didn’t know whether to register this liquid as a touch, but showed no other ill-effects.
Dropping phones into toilets seems to be a common story
We then conducted dunk tests and the smartphone struggled a little. Dunking its bottom half made the phone freeze temporarily. Dunking its top half convinced it that headphones were connected, failed to deliver an incoming call and required a reboot. We had to shake water out of the phone’s sockets.
Within minutes, the phone was able to make and take calls. It survived and was also surprisingly clean.
Liquipel doesn’t encourage dunking your phone, however. Warnings state it is only designed to guard against ‘‘ short-term, accidental contact with water’’ and should not be seen as reason to take your phone swimming.
In the event your phone does drown, Liquipel will refund your $99 investment and treat your next phone free.
Protective coat: Beads of water form on the phone’s surface.