Water-Resistant vs. Waterproof Phones

Have you ever dropped your mobile phone into the ocean or the sink? Or have you ever left your phone in your jacket pocket and accidentally put it through the wash? Or rushed through a fierce downpour, frantically trying to shield your precious phone from the rain?

Many of us know all too well the sinking feeling of realizing our treasured, expensive device is waterlogged and useless. Even if we rush to take the phone apart, remove the battery and plunge the pieces deep into a bowl of rice, the phone may refuse to come back to life. Or it may be only minimally functional once we finally cajole it into turning on.

Studies show that 15 to 20% of smartphone repairs take place because phones contact or become immersed in liquid. According to the International Data Corporation, liquids damage almost 900,000 smartphones every day, and that damage adds up to costs of more than $96 billion every year. That's a staggering amount. Wouldn't many of us love to avoid these steep repair costs?

Water-resistant and waterproof phones help to solve these issues. Water-resistant and waterproof phones are specially designed so if you spill your tea all over your phone — or in some cases even if you accidentally submerge your phone in feet of water — your phone is still safe. In recent polls, consumers ranked water resistance third when asked about what features they valued in a smartphone — ahead of desirable features like high-tech cameras and hands-free technology.

Sure, you can always invest in a protective water-resistant or waterproof case for your phone. But cases can leak. Or you might take your case off and then accidentally get your unprotected phone wet. For the best protection possible, consider investing in a phone whose design protects it against water splashes and damage.

Read on to discover how these phones work and to determine which one might be right for you.

What Are Water-Resistant Phones?

Water-resistant phones resist splashes and minor dunkings. They will hold up fine in a brief rain spell or if an overexuberant 4-year-old splashes water onto your phone from the bathtub. They will probably even be okay if you accidentally drop your phone into the sink for a second. They are not impervious to liquids, and they will not stand up to complete submersion in deep water for long periods.

The water-resistance of a phone is typically measured with an IP rating. IP stands for "ingress protection," which means protection against any elements — such as water — that can infiltrate your phone. Each number contained in the rating represents a different type of protection. Ratings of IP67 and IP68 indicate superior water resistance and waterproofing.

The first number — in the ratings above, the 6 — indicates the level of protection against solid matter, such as dust and pollen. It ranges from 1 to 6, with 1 representing the lowest level of protection and 6 representing the highest. The 6 in the ratings above indicates that those two models have the best possible protection against solid matter. Those phones admit no dust, dirt or pollen into their interior spaces.

The second number — in the ratings above, the 7 and the 8 — indicates the level of protection against water damage. This number ranges from 1 to 9, with 1 representing the lowest level of protection and 9 representing the highest. The 7 and 8 in the ratings above indicate that those two phone models offer superior protection against submersion in water, with the IP68 rating offering the best, most extended protection currently available on the commercial market.

Very few phones come with IP69 ratings. The phones that receive these ratings are typically military-grade phones or devices intended for first responders.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) maintains the comprehensive rating system and explains its second-numeral codes as follows. Products with this rating are protected against:

 • 1: Vertically falling water drops. These drops shall have no harmful effects.

 • 2: Vertically falling water drops when enclosure tilted up to 15 degrees. These drops shall have no harmful effects even if the enclosure is tilted up to 15 degrees to either side of the vertical.

• 3: Spraying water. Water sprayed at an angle up to 60 degrees on either side of the vertical shall have no harmful effects.

• 4: Splashing water. Water splashed against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.

• 5: Water jets. Water projected in jets against the enclosure shall have no harmful effects.

• 6: Powerful water jets. Water projected in powerful jets against the enclosure shall have no harmful effects.

• 7: Temporary immersion in water. Ingress of water in quantities causing harmful effects shall not be possible when the enclosure is temporarily immersed in water under standardized conditions of pressure and time.

• 8: Continuous immersion in water. Ingress of water in quantities causing harmful effects shall not be possible when the enclosure is continuously immersed in water under more severe, specified conditions.

• 9: High temperature and pressure water jets. Water projected at high temperature and high pressure against the enclosure from any direction shall not have harmful effects.

Typically, phones rated IP68 can survive in 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Phones rated IP67 can survive in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes.

Examples of Water-Resistant Phones

Below you'll find a listing of some of the water-resistant phones on the market. All the phones listed below boast IP67 ratings and protect well against spills and splashes and the occasional quick, shallow submersion in water.

1. iPhone XR

Apple's iPhone XR will survive an accidental dunking, though it won't last long in deep water. This phone has only one camera, and its screen design isn't quite as sophisticated as that of the XS series. However, this high-quality phone offers the latest technology, an attractive design that's almost all screen, a variety of fun features and reliable water-resistant protection.

2. iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

Apple's iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are water-resistant as well. Formerly Apple's flagship phones, these models boast state-of-the-art cameras and sleek, quintessential Apple design. With smaller batteries and less RAM, they lag behind newer models but are still excellent choices for their attractive design and range of fun, intuitive features.

3. iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Apple's iPhone 7 is an older model at this point, but it still offers an enjoyable user experience. The iPhone 7 is water-resistant and safe to use near water without fearing its early demise.

4. Google Pixel 2 and 2XL

Google's Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL are older Google models that protect against splashes and brief submersion in water. Their quality construction and attractive price points make them solid choices for water-resistant phones. The Google store no longer sells these phones, but you can still find them online.

5. Razer Phone 2

The Razer Phone 2 is marketed as a gaming phone. It comes equipped with a long-lasting battery, up to 8 GB of RAM, powerful speakers and sleek, vibrant screen design to enhance gaming experiences. Its water resistance is a helpful quality whenever an enthusiastic gamer becomes immersed in the virtual world and accidentally tips a nearby beverage onto the phone.

6. Nokia 9 PureView

The Nokia 9 PureView boasts a wild array of five cameras and has an attractive design and display. Its camera function can be slow and cumbersome, though, and its software isn't as advanced as others. It is a nice, budget-friendly phone with attractive water-resistant features.

What Are Waterproof Phones?

Let's start with one fundamental truth — no phone is 100% waterproof.

If you drop your phone in the pool and leave it there for hours, it's not likely to work once you finally fish it out. And there are limits to the amount of pressure phones can withstand before they begin to take in water. If you go cliff-jumping and take your phone along for photographic evidence, you'll likely end up with a lifeless screen rather than glorious photos of your vacation feats.

However, with technology advancing all the time, several phones do come close to being genuinely waterproof.

Phones considered waterproof are typically those with IP68 ratings. Most new, high-end phones come with these ratings for superior protection against everything from quick dunks to brief submersions in deeper water. These phones contain protective internal rubber coatings that act as a barrier against water and keep the phones' delicate internal electronic workings safe.

Performance of Waterproof Phones

Waterproof phones are durable and hardy. They come with a few limitations, however.

1. They Perform Differently in Extreme Conditions

It's important to remember, though, that manufacturers test these devices under basic conditions — for example, in freshwater rather than in saltwater, and at room temperature rather than under icy conditions. So if you drop your phone into the ocean, a hot tub, a chlorinated pool or a wintry lake, it may not come out as good as new.

A phone with a cracked screen will lose whatever water protection it once had.

2. They Perform Differently in Liquids Other Than Water

Waterproofing standards do not necessarily apply to other liquids. So you'll likely be okay if you spill water or tea on your phone, but wine, coffee or turpentine may be a different story entirely.

3. They Are Designed to Perform out of the Water

Though promotional materials may show smiling families taking fun, colorful photos of themselves underwater with their shiny new smartphones, manufacturers test their phones in standby mode. It's never wise to try to use your smartphone underwater, even if it is labeled waterproof.

And a phone that falls into water while in use may not survive the way it would if it fell into water while powered off.

Finally, it's essential to remember that even if your phone is waterproof, you should never charge it until it is 100% dry. Waiting until your phone is dry helps to prevent electrical shorts and malfunction.

Examples of Waterproof Phones

Below, you'll find a waterproof phone list that includes the top-rated waterproof phones on the market. All but one of the phones listed below boast a rating of IP68.

1. iPhone XS and XS Max

Apple's new iPhone XS and XS Max offer powerful waterproofing protection, so you won't ruin your top-of-the-line phone if you accidentally send it for a swim in the lake or river. These phones boast facial recognition technology, sleek and sophisticated design, enormous displays and the latest iOS 12 operating system. Though they come with only 4 GB of RAM, these stylish and intuitive phones offer can't-miss features and powerful water protection.

2. Samsung Galaxy S10 series

The Samsung Galaxy S10, S10e and S10 Plus also offer premium protection against water and solid particles. The Samsung Galaxy Plus, considered in many tech circles to be one of the best water-resistant phones of 2019, provides superior value. Its powerful battery, easy-to-read display and three versatile cameras make this large device a stylish, functional phone with extreme waterproofing protection. It also features up to 8 GB of RAM.

3. Huawei P30 Pro

The Huawei P30 Pro has a large display, plenty of RAM at 6 to 8 GB and world-class waterproofing protection. It has not one but four cameras for astounding photo quality. And it comes with a large battery so you can simplify your life by going for many hours without needing to recharge.

4. Samsung Galaxy Note9

The Samsung Galaxy Note9 features a large display for easy readability and a powerful, long-lasting battery. It packs 6 to 8 GB of RAM for oceans of memory and smooth processing.

5. Sony Xperia 1

The Sony Xperia 1 also offers superior dust and water protection. It lacks the tremendous battery of some of the other models, but it packs 6 GB of RAM and features the latest chip, audio and visual technology.

6. Google Pixel 3 and 3L

The Google Pixel 3 and 3XL have only one camera but take beautiful, crystal-clear photos thanks to the Night Sight technology featured in Google products. Though they have only 4 GB of RAM, they make for high-tech, easy-to-use waterproof phones. The Pixel 3XL has a larger, higher-resolution display and a longer-lasting battery.

7. Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is typically available in Europe and Asia, or buyers can order it online. This waterproof phone has a beautiful design, sports facial recognition technology, comes with up to 8 GB of RAM and has a long-lasting battery for ease on the go. And it provides users with peace of mind about protection from water damage.

8. LG G8 ThinQ

The LG G8 ThinQ is also safe from an accidental dunking or beverage slipup. It boasts exceptional audio features like stereo speakers. Though it comes with only 6 GB of RAM and has a smaller battery than many of the other phones on this list, it is a great all-purpose phone.

9. Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ are older phones that still boast excellent waterproofing. Their extra-wide screens lend themselves to high visibility and easy use.

10. Sony Xperia XZ

The Sony Xperia XZ phones are waterproof phones with excellent performance, though their cameras are modest. The smaller screens of the compact models make them useful for users who prefer the old-school, less obtrusive smartphone designs.

11. CAT S48c

The CAT S48c, like most CAT models, is a rugged, ultradurable phone. Its rubber reinforcement means that it can withstand dropping, bouncing and extreme dunking. However, its modest camera, middle-of-the-road performance and outdated display design may make it an uninspiring choice for casual users who don't intend to take their mobile phones on rafting or mountain-climbing expeditions.

12. Motorola Moto X4

The Moto X4 is a budget-friendly waterproof phone. This no-frills phone doesn't have the power or cutting-edge features of its competitors, but it boasts a slim, sleek design and multiple quality cameras.

13. Nomu S10 Pro

Finally, the Nomu S10 Pro is reported to have a waterproofing rating of an unprecedented IP69 for commercial phones. The manufacturer states that this budget-priced phone can withstand submersion in 6 feet of water for up to 60 minutes. It comes with a rugged case and an extremely long-lasting battery, though its 3 GB of RAM is quite modest compared to the RAM of most modern smartphones.

Pros of Waterproof and Water-Resistant Phones

Of course, the major advantage of owning a waterproof or water-resistant phone is the added protection and peace of mind these phones give their owners. Owners of waterproof and water-resistant phones don't worry that if they leave their phones near the pool, their phones will get splashed and ruined, or that if they have to sprint into the grocery store from the far reaches of the parking lot in the pouring rain, they'll ruin the smartphones shoved into their back pockets.

As we have seen above, waterproof phones provide a greater level of protection than water-resistant phones. The benefit of a waterproof phone is that you can even completely immerse your phone in deep water for small amounts of time. Though you can't leave your phone at the bottom of the pool for a week and expect it to work afterward, you can accidentally dunk it into some water and still be okay.

Cons of Waterproof and Water-Resistant Phones

On the other hand, waterproof and water-resistant phones come at a cost. Generally, only the high-end phones on the market come with the IP67 and IP68 ratings needed to protect against water damage. These top-of-the-line phones, with their shiny bells and whistles and the latest innovative features, come at a high price. Exceptions do exist — for example, the budget-friendly CAT and Moto X4 phones described above. However, the overall modest quality of those exceptions may mean that some casual phone buyers look elsewhere.

Nevertheless, phone damage and loss can occur in the blink of an eye, especially when messy, unpredictable liquids get involved. For consumers who would spend top dollar for a quality phone anyway, waterproofing and water-resistant features provide a sound protective choice.

How to Decide Whether You Need a Waterproof or Water-Resistant Phone

We can't emphasize this enough — it's important to be realistic. If you're looking for a smartphone that you can take scuba diving with you, stop your search here.

But if you have recently sent your phone to an early death by dropping it in the toilet or leaving it out on the lawn when the sprinklers turned on, and you'd like to avoid a repeat of that experience, a waterproof phone would be an excellent choice.

If you prefer to avoid the steep prices that high-end waterproof phones command but you'd still like your phone protected against the occasional splash or spill, a water-resistant phone would be a great pick.

Recycle Your Old Phone With ecoATM

If you've recently upgraded to a water-resistant or waterproof smartphone, consider recycling your old phone with ecoATM.

EcoATM recovers valuable reusable materials from electronic devices and sends them to companies to use again. Over the two decades we've been in operation, we have kept 21 million electronic devices out of landfills. We've helped to recycle over 700,000 pounds of copper, along with thousands of pounds of gold, silver and other precious metals.

By recycling broken phones and other devices at one of our convenient kiosks, you can keep harmful plastics and toxins out of landfills, provide useful metals for commercial and industrial applications and get some bonus cash all at the same time. Find a kiosk near you today to dispose of old mobile phones safely, or contact us with any questions.