Can tablet or smartphone survive 30 minutes underwater? We put claims to the test

CLEVELAND - The cellphone industry has many accessories to protect your phone, including bumpers and screen guards. Now, there's even protection against water.

Some gadgets are sold with the waterproof technology, and there's even an option to protect your used phone from water.

Erin Brady was washing dishes with her cellphone nearby. "I put it on a towel next to me. Someone picked up the towel, and it flew into the sink," Brady explained. "I had it out in one second and dried it."

Brady said it worked at first, but then water seeped under the screen. She tried rice and heat, and even bought a new screen, trying to repair it herself. Nothing worked.

"It should be able to be in water more than one second before breaking," Brady said.

How about 30 minutes? That's the claim from the makers of the Pantech Element tablet from AT&T.

The waterproof tablet sells for $299.99 with a two-year contract. The no commitment price is $449.99. If you do a package deal and buy the Element and Pantech Burst, a smartphone, you can get the price down to $249.99.

While the tablet is waterproof, it comes with a sheet full of cautions: "While it has superior protection against accidental contact with water than devices with lower IP ratings, this tablet is NOT intended to be used underwater or in the water."

Plus, it's waterproof which is not the same as soda proof. That may cause the tablet to become sticky and malfunction. The screen on the Pantech tablet stayed on underwater, but eventually turned off.

We asked an observer if they have ever seen anything like it.

"No, I can't say I have," Art Motrunecs said.

Tabs protect the USB, headphone jack, and other holes along the side, but we still saw a little bit of water seep under the tap after 30 minutes in the water.

Thirty minutes after we submerged the tablet, we pulled it out, swiped our finger across the wet screen and it still worked.

Waterproofing used electronics

We also tested after market waterproofing from a company called Liquipel . The company will waterproof the following devices: iPod Shuffle, iPhone 4, Galaxy S2 from T-Mobile and AT&T, iPhone 4S, iPhone 3GS, Evo 4G, Evo Shift 4G, HTC My Touch 4G, Samsung Charge, and Motorola Droid X and X2.

We bought a Shuffle, paid $59, and mailed it to the California company. According to the video on the company website, the Shuffle is put in a chamber and a coating is applied to the device.

While Liquipel is a product that waterproofs your electronic items, the company mails the item back with a warning that reads, "Liquipel does not recommend that your device comes in contact with any liquids."

Still, we shuffled our Shuffle from test to test to see if it lived up to the claims. We sprayed water on it, dumped water from a cup, and even dunked it in a fish bowl for thirty minutes. In between each test, we made sure the Shuffle still worked.

After 30 minutes, the Shuffle was waterlogged with bubbles inside the headphone jack. Still, it played music.

Granted a Shuffle is different than a cellphone, and results may vary, but this is cutting edge technology unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show. Waterproof technology may be the next big thing in the electronics world.

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