Can a phone be waterproof?

Water damage is one of the most common ways that phones become damaged. With people taking their phones everywhere, including around water, there is always a risk that the phone could get wet and break. This has led many people to wonder if it’s possible to make a phone that is waterproof or at least water resistant. In this article, we’ll look at whether it’s technically possible to make a waterproof phone, some of the techniques used to make phones water resistant, and how waterproof different phone models actually are.

Is it Possible to Make a Waterproof Phone?

Technically speaking, yes it is possible to make a waterproof phone. To make a device completely waterproof, the manufacturer needs to seal off all the openings and gaps where water could enter. This means waterproofing the buttons, charging ports, headphone jacks, speakers, and microphones. It also requires making sure the actual casing of the phone is watertight.

While it is possible to waterproof the openings, there is still the speaker and microphone to consider. Most waterproof phones use special waterproof membranes over the speaker and microphone to allow air and sound to pass through while preventing water from entering. With enough engineering, it is possible to waterproof all aspects of a smartphone.

Water Resistance Ratings

To indicate how water resistant a phone is, manufacturers use an IP rating system. IP stands for Ingress Protection and the rating is usually followed by two numbers that indicate the level of dust and water protection. Here’s what the different numbers mean:

First Digit – Solid Particle Protection

0 – No protection
1 – Protected against solid objects over 50mm
2 – Protected against solid objects over 12.5mm
3 – Protected against solid objects over 2.5mm
4 – Protected against solid objects over 1mm
5 – Protected against dust, limited ingress
6 – Totally dust tight

Second Digit – Liquid Ingress Protection

0 – No protection
1 – Protection against vertically dripping water
2 – Protection against dripping water when tilted 15°
3 – Protection against spraying water
4 – Protection against splashing water
5 – Protected against low pressure water jets
6 – Protected against high pressure water jets
7 – Protected against temporary immersion
8 – Protected against long term immersion
9 – Protected against high pressure and temperature water jets

So for example, a phone with an IP67 rating would be totally dust tight and protected against immersion in water up to 1m deep. An IP68 rating means the phone is also waterproof in long term immersion. Understanding the IP ratings makes it easier to evaluate the level of water and dust resistance.

Waterproofing Techniques

There are several techniques manufacturers use to make phones water resistant or waterproof:

– Gaskets – Rubber gaskets around the ports and openings block water from entering.

– Sealed Ports – Port covers prevent water from getting in chargers, headphone jacks, etc.

– Water-repellent Coatings – Water beads up and rolls off surfaces treated with hydrophobic coatings.

– Adhesives – Waterproof glues and compounds seal gaps and openings.

– Waterproof Membranes – These protect microphone and speaker openings while allowing air and sound transmission.

– Air Vents – Vents equalize interior pressure to keep water out.

– Water Sensors – Sensors detect water ingress and shut off electronics.

– Rugged, Waterproof Materials – Tightly assembled casings prevent water intrusion into the phone body.

By combining several of these waterproofing methods, manufacturers can make an IP68 certified waterproof phone.

History of Waterproof Phones

Some key events in the development of waterproof smartphones:

– 2012 – The Sony Xperia Z becomes one of the first mainstream IP57 phones.

– 2013 – Samsung releases the Galaxy S4 Active with IP67 rating.

– 2015 – Kyocera releases the waterproof Hydro Shore, designed for saltwater and chlorinated pools.

– 2016 – Apple introduces first water-resistant iPhone 7 and 7 Plus with IP67 rating.

– 2017 – Samsung launches the Galaxy S8, its first flagship phone with IP68 rating.

– 2018 – Rugged IP68 phones like the CAT S61 and Sonim XP8 designed for extreme conditions.

– 2019 – Smartphone water and dust resistance becomes fairly standard on mid-range and premium phones.

– 2020 – Apple improves iPhone water resistance to IP68 with the iPhone 12 series.

– 2021 – Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 become the company’s first water-resistant foldable phones.

So in just a decade, waterproofing went from a niche feature to mainstream as more manufacturers adopted it.

Waterproof Ratings of Popular Phones

Here is how some current popular phone models rate for water and dust resistance:

Phone IP Rating
iPhone 14 Pro IP68
iPhone 14 IP68
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra IP68
Google Pixel 7 Pro IP68
OnePlus 10 Pro No rating

The iPhone 14 series and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra have the highest IP68 rating, making them resistant to long term immersion in water. The Pixel 7 Pro matches their waterproofing abilities with an identical IP68 rating. OnePlus does not provide an official IP rating for its phones, though they advertise water resistance.

Water Resistance in Real-World Testing

IP ratings provide a useful standardized system for comparing water resistance. However, real-world tests often push phones past their limits. Some examples:

– The iPhone 7 survived over 30 minutes at the bottom of a pool, despite Apple only claiming IP67 rating.

– A Galaxy S10+ operated normally after spending 2 hours fully submerged, beyond 1 meter depth listed in IP68 rating.

– Videos of the OnePlus 7 Pro show it handling pools and buckets of water, even though it lacks an official IP rating.

– There are accounts of older IP67/IP68 phones like the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6S functioning fine after a full wash cycle.

So while IP ratings are helpful guidelines, some phones can exceed the recommended depth and time limits in the right circumstances. Still, an IP68 phone has the best chance of surviving accidental water exposure of any smartphone. And for the safest results, it’s best not to intentionally exceed the ratings too much.

Limitations of Waterproof Phones

While making phones waterproof opens up new possibilities, there are still some limitations:

– Most waterproof phones lose their charging capability when wet. Wireless charging may work.

– Using the touchscreen underwater is difficult without specialized apps and modes.

– Speakers and microphones may be muffled until water is drained.

– Fully submerging the phone could exceed pressure tolerances, especially in saltwater or chlorinated pools.

– Opening any sealed port or flap disables water protections.

– Rubber gaskets can deteriorate over time, compromising water sealing.

– Replacing the battery or cracked screen requires losing the waterproofing.

So phones with IP67 or IP68 ratings can resist water under the right conditions but still have vulnerabilities users should keep in mind.

Maintenance Guidelines for Waterproof Phones

To keep a waterproof phone functioning correctly requires some maintenance:

– Keep the ports, openings, and seals clear of debris like sand and dirt.

– Dry out phone thoroughly with absorbent cloth if it gets wet.

– Avoid deliberate, prolonged submersion past rated limits.

– Use phone within operating temperature range; excessive heat can damage seals.

– Inspect phone for cracks that could compromise waterproofing.

– Have battery replaced by manufacturer to maintain seals.

– Test phone water sealing regularly by seeing if display dims or foggy when wet.

With proper care, a waterproof phone can last through years of potential water exposure. But neglecting maintenance may forfeit its liquid protection over time.

DIY Waterproofing Options

For non-waterproof phones, there are DIY solutions to protect them from water:

– Enclose phone in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag when at the beach or poolside.

– Apply a transparent conformal coating to the phone’s circuit board.

– Use petroleum jelly to temporarily plug charger ports and audio jacks.

– Place phone in a waterproof case or dry bag designed for electronics.

– Apply a commercial waterproofing spray to exterior surfaces.

– Use anti-fog inserts or cat crap lens solution to keep camera lens clear.

– Turn off phone and remove battery when contact with water is highly likely.

These options provide basic water protection, but likely not to the same IP68 level as dedicated waterproof phones.

Future of Waterproof Phone Design

Here are some directions phone waterproofing may take in the future:

– Invisible waterproofing that doesn’t require port flaps and seals.

– Standard IP68 or greater protection on most phones rather than a premium feature.

– Improved effectiveness on high-pressure water jets and saltwater.

– Ability to use touchscreen and charge while phone is wet.

– Embedded water sensors that trigger draining mechanisms or shut-off electronics when wet.

– Materials like graphene that are thinner but still waterproof to enable sleeker device designs.

– Self-healing compounds that autonomously close small gaps or cracks in the water sealing.

– sogif certification beyond static IP ratings that account for aging and wear issues.

Waterproofing will likely continue evolving, just like other aspects of smartphone design. Each improvement makes it so people have to worry less about exposing their phone to water in daily life.


Phone waterproofing has come a long way in the last decade. While early efforts were hit or miss, standards like IP ratings now allow consumers to better compare water and dust resistance between models. With enough internal sealing and construction care, it is absolutely possible to make even complicated smartphones waterproof.

Top phone makers like Apple, Samsung, and Google now offer flagship phones with IP67 or IP68 water resistance as standard. And the level of waterproofness is being pushed even further on rugged and specialty phones. So while no phone is invincible, water damage is becoming less and less of an Achilles’ heel, especially on higher-end devices. Just be sure to maintain the water sealing and follow common sense precautions.

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