Are any phones really waterproof?

With phones now a vital part of everyday life, having one that can withstand the elements is key. Water damage is one of the most common ways phones become unusable, so manufacturers have responded by making “waterproof” phones. But are any of them truly waterproof? Let’s take a look at how waterproof different phone models really are.

What does “waterproof” mean for phones?

When a phone is marketed as waterproof, it typically means it has an IP rating of IP67 or IP68. This means it has undergone standardized testing to verify it can withstand being submerged in 1-3 meters of water for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

However, an IP rating alone doesn’t guarantee complete waterproofing. Factors like water pressure, device age, drops/cracks, and proper port/cover sealing also impact resistance. Even within the IP67 and IP68 ratings, there are differences in testing conditions between manufacturers.

It’s also key to clarify the difference between waterproof and water resistant. Waterproof means completely impervious to water at a certain depth and time. Water resistant means the phone should withstand splashes and brief submersions with proper sealing in place.

Key factors that impact waterproofing

Here are some of the key factors that determine how waterproof a phone really is:

  • IP rating – Higher numbers indicate better resistance. IP67 is immersion up to 1 meter, IP68 up to 1.5-3 meters.
  • Depth – Deeper/higher pressure water puts more strain on seals.
  • Duration – 30 minutes to 1 hour in IP testing. Longer periods increase risk.
  • Water seals – Gaskets and flaps must remain intact with no gaps.
  • Age and wear – Seal materials can degrade over time.
  • Physical damage – Cracks or distortion from drops impact sealing.
  • Saltwater vs. freshwater – Saltwater is more corrosive and damaging over time.
  • Temperature – Very warm or cold water can deform seals.

How major phone brands compare for waterproofing

Let’s evaluate how waterproof phones from the top brands stack up relative to each other.

iPhone water resistance ratings

Model IP Rating Maximum depth Maximum submersion time
iPhone 14 Pro IP68 6 meters 30 minutes
iPhone 14 IP68 6 meters 30 minutes
iPhone 13 Pro IP68 6 meters 30 minutes
iPhone 13 IP68 6 meters 30 minutes
iPhone 12 Pro IP68 6 meters 30 minutes
iPhone 12 IP68 6 meters 30 minutes
iPhone 11 Pro IP68 4 meters 30 minutes
iPhone 11 IP68 2 meters 30 minutes
iPhone XR IP67 1 meter 30 minutes
iPhone XS IP68 2 meters 30 minutes
iPhone X IP67 1 meter 30 minutes

Key takeaways for iPhones:

  • Latest models (iPhone 12 onwards) have excellent 6 meter depth rating.
  • IP68 rating on all models since iPhone XS.
  • 30 minute submersion limit could be exceeded in some real-world cases.

Samsung Galaxy water resistance

Model IP Rating Maximum depth Maximum submersion time
Galaxy S22 Ultra IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Galaxy S22 IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Galaxy S21 IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Galaxy S20 IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Galaxy S10 IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Galaxy S9 IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Galaxy S8 IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes

Key takeaways for Galaxy phones:

  • Consistent IP68 rating since Galaxy S8.
  • Maximum depth rating lower than iPhone at 1.5 meters.
  • 30 minutes consistent with iPhone for duration.

Google Pixel water resistance

Model IP Rating Maximum depth Maximum submersion time
Pixel 7 Pro IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Pixel 7 IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Pixel 6 Pro IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Pixel 6 IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Pixel 5 IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Pixel 4 IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Pixel 3 IP68 1.5 meters 30 minutes
Pixel 2 IP67 1 meter 30 minutes
Pixel 1 IP53 N/A N/A

Key takeaways for Pixel phones:

  • IP68 rating on all models since Pixel 3.
  • 1.5 meter maximum depth on par with Galaxy.
  • 30 minute time consistent with other brands.
  • Pixel 1 only IP53 splash resistant.

Are rugged/outdoor phones more waterproof?

Phones designed for outdoor use and extreme conditions usually have the highest waterproof ratings. Some examples:

  • CAT S62 Pro – IP69 rating, can withstand high pressure water jets.
  • Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G – IP68 rating, can be submerged up to 2.5 meters.
  • Sonim XP5 – IP68 rating, can be submerged beyond 6 meters depth.

However, specialized rugged phones also tend to lag behind flagship models in terms of technical specifications and platform OS versions. So there’s a tradeoff between ultimate water protection and having cutting edge smartphone capabilities.

Do waterproof phone cases work?

Waterproof phone cases create a sealed, protective enclosure around your phone to prevent water intrusion. Quality can vary significantly though:

  • Cheap universal cases may not have robust sealing and leak over time.
  • Well-fitted cases for specific phone models tend to have better water protection.
  • Look for IPX8 rating on cases for submersion past 1 meter.
  • Touch screen sensitivity may be impacted by case materials.

When selecting a waterproof case, go with major brands like Otterbox and LifeProof for reliable protection. Test in shallow water first before going deeper.

How to improve any phone’s water resistance

You can take steps to improve water resistance on any phone:

  • Ensure adhesive seals around chassis are intact with no gaps or peeling.
  • Frequently clean debris around seals and charging ports.
  • Avoid exposing phone to solvents/chemicals that can degrade seals.
  • Use a thin sealant like silicone grease on vulnerable ports.
  • Never charge or use ports/speakers when phone is wet.
  • Dry phone thoroughly with absorbent cloth after any water exposure.

Avoid deliberately submerging any non-rugged phone to be cautious. But with care, most modern phones can handle splashes and brief dunks.

Should you use a waterproof phone without a case?

It’s not recommended to use any waterproof phone without a protective case. Here’s why:

  • Phones still sustain screen and body damage when dropped, even if water sealed.
  • Cases provide vital shock absorption when phones are dropped.
  • Sand and grit can erode waterproof seals over time without a case.
  • Cases provide additional port coverage and water protection.

A rugged, waterproof case provides the best protection for waterproof phones against drops, scrapes and pressure damage over time.

How long does waterproofing last?

There is no definitive lifespan for waterproofing on phones. It depends on several factors:

  • Adhesive seal age and material quality – Typically 2 to 3 years before degradation.
  • Wear and tear – Dents, cracks, and pitted ports worsen over time.
  • Battery heat – High temperatures during charging or usage accelerates seal wear.
  • Chemical/solvent exposure – Can weaken adhesive bonds.
  • UV and radiation damage – Also degrade materials over years.

Annual servicing to check seals, replace adhesives, clean ports, and update software can help maintain water resistance over a phone’s lifetime.

Waterproofing reliability tips

To keep waterproofing effective for as long as possible:

  • Avoid deliberately exceeding depth/time limits.
  • Don’t use phones in hot tubs/steam rooms.
  • Check seals regularly for gaps or damage.
  • Clean ports gently with non-abrasive tools.
  • Never charge or dock while wet.
  • Dry phone thoroughly after any water exposure.
  • Use protective case and screen cover.

Get port covers and any sealant/adhesive reapplied at least annually by the manufacturer. Avoid unauthorized repairs that may compromise water seals.

Water damage repair options

If water damage does occur on a phone, prompt action is key:

  • Immediately power down – Don’t try charging.
  • Dry with absorbent cloth – Soak up visible moisture.
  • Use desiccant packs – Help draw out humid air.
  • Don’t use heat sources – Avoid hairdryers.
  • Disconnect the battery – If you can safely open the phone.
  • Flush with distilled water – To clean out contaminants.

For professional water extraction, companies like TekDry offer ultrasonic cleaning and vacuum drying services. But liquid damage often cannot be fully reversed once it has occurred.

Cost of water damage repairs

Water damage repair costs will vary based on the model and extent of damage. Here are some rough estimates for newer phones:

  • iPhone XR screen replacement – $150
  • Galaxy S10 motherboard repair – $250
  • Pixel 6 Pro refurbishment – $300
  • Complete phone replacement – $399 to $1199

Liquid damage often reaches past the screen/exterior to impact boards, cameras and internal components. Be prepared for higher costs, potential data loss, and full device replacement if damage is severe.

How to dry out a wet phone

Here are the steps to best dry out a phone that has gotten wet:

  1. Remove SIM and SD card immediately – Prevent short circuiting.
  2. Do not press any buttons or charge it – Can cause electrical damage.
  3. Shut down the phone – Helps prevent short circuiting once powered off.
  4. Absorb excess moisture gently – Use microfiber cloth or paper towels.
  5. Submerge in dry uncooked rice – Helps absorb ambient moisture for 2-3 days.
  6. Use silica gel packs – More powerful moisture absorber than rice.
  7. Do not use heat or hairdryers – Can move moisture further inside.
  8. Change out rice/silica gel daily – Until moisture is gone.

Thorough air drying can recover phones after light splashes or brief submersion. But for heavy exposure, professional help may be required.

Preventing water damage when outdoors

Here are some tips to keep your phone safe from water damage when outdoors near water:

  • Use a waterproof case – Provides an extra layer of protection.
  • Attach a lanyard or wrist strap – Avoid accidental drops into water.
  • Keep phone stowed when doing water sports – Kayaking, fishing, etc.
  • Have a dry bag or phone pouch – Keeps phone away from water when worn.
  • Wipe down and dry phone after use near water – Remove any moisture.
  • Don’t set phone on damp surfaces – Like pool chairs or wet boats.
  • Never bring phone in hot tub – Heat and jets damage seals.

Avoid tossing your phone carelessly around bodies of water. Be mindful of keeping it protected in adverse conditions.


While no phone is 100% impervious to water damage, IP67 and IP68 rated models can safely withstand splashes, rain, and accidental dunks. Just avoid exceeding depth/time limits. With proper sealing and cases, plus care in wet conditions, modern high-end phones provide decent water protection.

But you should still try to avoid getting phones wet when possible and never deliberately submerge them. Get water exposure repairs promptly if it does happen. With prudent use, your phone’s water seals should remain effective for at least 1-2 years.