Can a phone be waterproof?

What does it mean for a phone to be waterproof?

A waterproof phone is designed to resist water and moisture entering the internal components. Waterproofing means the phone can be submerged in water up to a certain depth, for a certain amount of time, without water getting inside and damaging the electronics. The level of waterproofing is measured by an IP rating, which stands for Ingress Protection. The higher the number, the better the water resistance. For example, IP67 means dust-tight and protected against immersion in water up to 1 meter deep for 30 minutes. IP68 can withstand submersion deeper than 1 meter. So for a phone to be considered truly waterproof, it needs an IP67 or IP68 rating.

How do phone manufacturers make phones waterproof?

There are several techniques used to make phones waterproof:

– Sealing – The phone frame and ports are sealed with gaskets and adhesives to prevent water entering gaps. Internal components are coated to protect against moisture.

– Rubber flaps or doors – Openings like the charger port, SIM tray, and headphone jack have rubber flaps that seal shut to block water.

– Water-tight chambers – Components like the speaker, microphone and buttons are individually enclosed in sealed chambers to isolate them.

– Water-repellent coatings – The circuit boards and other internals have a hydrophobic coating that repels water, similar to rain-X on a car windshield.

– Pressure venting – Any air or gas inside is allowed to escape through seals or port flaps as water pressure increases when submerged. This equalizes internal and external pressure.

– Conformal coatings – Electronics are covered in a thin protective polymer layer that repels water and resists corrosion.

So in summary, strategic sealing, compartmentalization, coatings and pressure venting allow phone makers to achieve IP67 or IP68 waterproof ratings.

What are the limits of waterproof phones?

While waterproof phones can withstand submersion to varying depths, they do have limits:

– Depth – Most waterproof phones are tested to 1-2 meters depth. Exceeding this can leak water in due to pressure.

– Duration – Phones are tested for water resistance up to 30 minutes. Longer submersion increases risk.

– Chemicals – Pool water, soapy water and other liquids can still seep in and damage the phone over time.

– Old seals – The gaskets and seals degrade over time, reducing water resistance on older phones.

– Physical damage – Cracks, dents or deformities allow moisture paths to enter the phone around damaged seals.

– Warranty – Water damage will void the phone’s warranty if its limits are exceeded.

So while waterproof phones are incredibly helpful for accidental splashes or brief dunks, they are not designed for extensive underwater use. The seals still allow a small amount of water diffusion over time, so long term submersion is not recommended.

What are the benefits of a waterproof phone?

Here are some of the advantages that waterproof phones provide to users:

– Peace of mind – You don’t have to worry as much about getting your phone wet in the rain or dropping it in water. Accidental splashes or spills are less likely to damage it.

– Outdoor use – You can use the phone in wet environments like the pool, lake or beach without damage. Great for active lifestyles and adventures.

– Underwater photography – Take pictures and videos while swimming, snorkeling or shallow diving. Capture underwater moments.

– Durability – Water protection adds physical durability and resilience against liquid damage, which is one of the most common ways phones break.

– Longevity – Waterproofing allows the phone to last longer before needing to be replaced. Protects your investment.

– Resale value – Water resistant phones tend to hold resale value better as they withstand wear and tear.

So in summary, waterproofing brings useful lifestyle benefits, durability and peace of mind against water damage, which is why it is an increasingly popular feature on modern smartphones.

What are the downsides of waterproof phones?

While waterproofing has clear benefits, there are some potential disadvantages:

– Cost – Waterproofing requires complex sealing that adds to manufacturing expense. Waterproof phones usually cost $50-100 more.

– Size – The rugged, sealed frames tend to make waterproof phones bulkier and heavier than regular phones.

– Port covers – The charger, headphone jack and other ports usually have fiddly rubber flaps that are annoying to open and close.

– Under-screen fingerprint sensors – These can be less reliable with wet fingers. Not all models have waterproof scanners.

– Repairs – It is very difficult for consumers to open and repair sealed waterproof phones. Out-of-warranty repairs are expensive.

– False confidence – Some owners may push limits and submerge well beyond depths and times tested, damaging the phone. Warranties do not cover misuse.

– Limited accessibility – Sealed flap ports make the phone harder to use for those with limited dexterity in their fingers and hands.

So there are some usage annoyances and limitations to consider regarding cost, ergonomics and repairability with rugged waterproof designs.

What are some examples of popular waterproof phone models?

Phone Model Waterproof Rating
iPhone 7/8 IP67
iPhone XR/11 IP68
Samsung Galaxy S7/S8 Active IP68
Samsung Galaxy S10e/S10 IP68
Google Pixel 3/4/5 IP68

Here are some examples of popular flagship phones that have waterproof designs rated IP67 or IP68:

– Apple iPhones from the iPhone 7 onward are IP67 or IP68 rated.

– Samsung Galaxy S7/S8 Active and newer Galaxy models are IP68 water resistant.

– Google Pixel 3 onwards have an IP68 waterproof rating.

So most major flagships these days are designed with waterproofing to IP67 or better. Mid-range models often have some level of water resistance too. With phones now an integral part of our lives, waterproofing has become an expected feature that gives owners peace of mind.

Which is better – waterproof or water resistant?

Technically, waterproof means completely impervious to water, while water resistant allows some water ingress. In reality, smartphones described as waterproof are only water resistant to a certain extent. True waterproofing is difficult to achieve for complex electronics. Here are the key differences:

– Waterproof – Can be continually submerged underwater without leaking. Almost no consumer phones achieve this.

– Water resistant – Withstands water exposure to a limited depth and time. Most “waterproof” phones are in this category based on IP ratings.

– Water repellent – Repels water but is not fully sealed. Can handle moderate exposure but not full submersion.

So phones described as waterproof almost always mean water resistant. The IP67 and IP68 ratings are considered sufficiently water resistant to be used as described even if not 100% waterproof.

How much does it cost to make a phone waterproof?

Adding extensive waterproofing can increase the manufacturing cost of a smartphone by $50 to $100 compared to a non-water resistant model. Here are some of the ways waterproofing adds cost:

– Components and assembly – Water-tight casings, port covers, gaskets, and seals cost more to fabricate and assemble.

– Testing – Extensive water resistance testing during design and production control adds cost.

– Higher reject rate – Some finished units may fail tests and have to be scrapped and re-worked.

– Special coatings – Hydrophobic nanofilms and treatments add materials cost.

– Reduced repairability – Water sealing makes phones harder to repair, so replacement costs go up.

– Markup – Brands price waterproof models at a premium above non-waterproof equivalents.

However, manufacturers consider this increased cost worth it, given the benefits waterproofing provides to differentiate flagship models. Consumers have also shown willingness to pay more for water protection. So the ability to survive splashes and dunks has become a must-have rather than an exotic feature.

How to make an old phone waterproof?

It is very difficult for the average person to add true waterproofing to an existing non-water resistant phone. Professional aftermarket waterproofing for electronics does exist, but is complex and expensive. Here are some DIY options of varying effectiveness:

– Enclosure case – Airtight plastic cases are available that seal the phone from water. Touch sensitivity is reduced. Offers basic water protection.

– Rubber sleeve – Flexible rubber or silicone sleeves add splash protection but are not water tight for submersion.

– Seal ports – Try using plugs, tape or glue to seal charger and headphone ports. Provides minimal water resistance.

– Liquid tape – Special rubberized sprays can temporarily coat and seal a phone before exposure. Messy and labor intensive to apply.

– Ziplock bag – Putting the phone in a ziplock bag or dry bag works for basic water protection. Usefulness is severely limited.

– Limit exposure – Avoid getting an old phone wet when possible. Quickly dry out any moisture that gets on the phone.

Upgrading to a newer IP-rated water resistant phone is by far the most effective way to gain meaningful water protection and freedom of use around water. Add-on solutions for old phones are limited and inconsistent.

How long does waterproofing last on phones?

The waterproof seals and coatings on smartphones do degrade over time. The lifespan depends on usage and conditions, but water resistance generally lasts:

– 1-3 years with careful use – With minimal water exposure and drops, seals remain intact.

– Up to 2 years for heavy use – Frequent underwater submersion accelerates seal wear.

– ~1 year if previously repaired – Non-authorized repairs often compromise water seals.

– Weeks if damaged – Any cracks or dents that deform the casing can instantly compromise waterproofing.

To extend waterproof lifespan:

– Avoid unnecessary submersion.
– Do not exceed depth / time limits.
– Rinse phone in fresh water after wet use.
– Have seals replaced if damaged.

While waterproof ratings apply officially at the time of manufacture, real-world lifespan depends on usage and care. Just because a phone is rated IP68 does not make it indefinitely waterproof.


Modern high-end smartphones tout waterproof designs that allow underwater submersion to varying degrees, as rated by Ingress Protection levels. This durability against water exposure offers lifestyle advantages and peace of mind. While no phone is truly indestructible, waterproofing provides significant protection against accidental spills and wet environments within usage limitations. Careful maintenance extends the lifespan of water seals, but degradation eventually occurs from wear and tear. Overall, water resistance has become an expected feature for flagship phones to have, even if marginal cost and usability tradeoffs exist. With proper precautions, consumers can benefit from waterproof phone technology without pushing limits or damaging devices.

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