Waterproof smartphones are becoming more common in Western markets, but they are hardly the norm. In Japan however, almost all phones are waterproof, and have been for nearly a decade now. According to statistics, 90% to 95% of phones in Japan are waterproof, because people need to be able to use them while they are showering.
Japanese users are apparently so attached to their phones that they even bring them into the shower. Manufacturers were aware of this unusual habit early on and realized that in order to succeed in japan, they had to make their devices water resistant. The world’s first waterproof mobile phone, the Casio Canu 502S, was release in 2005, and was soon followed by a series of Fujitsu waterproof handhelds. Before long, every company looking to enter Japanese market had to make their devices waterproof.
Even companies like LG or Samsung, which don’t generally make waterproof phones for the global market, had to adapt in order to become competitive in Japan. “In Japan, being waterproof is far more important than being able to remove your phone’s battery,” said Ken Hong, LG’s global communications director. “For a smaller Korean brand like LG, we need to be able to check all the key boxes to be as attractive as possible to Japanese consumers.” This is also why LG hasn’t even bothered launching its newest flagship, the modular G5 phone in the Asian country – it couldn’t make a waterproof phone with removable parts, so why bother.
“In Japan, you can’t sell a phone if it’s not waterproof. About 90 to 95 percent of all phones sold now are already waterproof,” Panasonic executive Taro Itakura said in 2012. “Why? This is very unique — young Japanese women prefer to use their cellphones even when taking their showers, cellphones have become ‘must products’.”
“The mobile phone is with us 24 hours a day. It accompanies us to the bathroom, to the shower, or under the rain. So it is a necessity for the phone to be robust,” Nobuo Ohtani, Fujitsu corporate senior vice president, told AFP.
So rest easy, as long as you don’t take your mobile phone in the shower with you, you’re not as addicted to technology as you thought.