After months of being baked in the sun, we’ve finally seen the first few rainshowers of the oncoming rainy season. For many of us, the rainy season means keeping our phones mostly in our bags or pockets. The vast majority of electronics out there simply don’t play nicely with water. Whether it’s a glass of water accidentally spilled, or a light drizzle that gets in the wrong places. Failure to heed this advice means a trip to the rice bowl – or the service center.
But all is not lost for smartphone lovers. Over the past few years, several manufacturers have begun equipping their best devices with some form of water resistance, and that feature has even started trickling down to lower models.
You may also like:
How is water resistance measured in phones?
First off, let’s clear the air a little. There’s no such thing as true waterproofing in a phone. The vast majority of “waterproof” smartphones are more appropriately called “water-resistant,” and can survive being immersed in a meter or two of water for around half an hour.
The reason why there’s a depth limit to water resistance is that the water pressure goes up as you go deeper. Exceeding the depth limit means that the water pressure may be enough to break the seals and cause damage.
Secondly, despite all the hullabaloo about water resistance in phones, most manufacturers don’t cover water damage in their warranty. Consider water resistance as a way to take a quick photo underwater (which we don’t advice you do), or assurance that your ass is saved if the phone gets wet in a sudden rainshower or dropped in a pool (good luck with this last one).
Finally, water resistance ratings almost universally refer to freshwater immersion, not seawater. As much as possible, don’t expose your “water-resistant” phone to the ocean!
The best water-resistant phones
Got all of that? Now, let’s put the spotlight on the best water-resistant phones that you can buy today.
Samsung’s Galaxy lineup was a relatively early adopter of water resistance. The 2013 Galaxy S4 Active was an impressive variant of their popular S4 which touted IP67 water resistance, allowing for 30 minutes of immersion in water up to 1 meter deep. Starting with the S5, and with the exception of the Galaxy S6, the entire main Galaxy S lineup got waterproofing. The Note7 got its waterproofing too.
With the S10, Samsung keeps up the tradition with IP68 certification, meaning it can be submerged for 30 minutes in water that’s up to 1.5 meters deep. It also keeps up a feature that debuted a couple of Galaxy generations ago, where if the USB port is wet, it gets briefly deactivated to prevent any damage.
Water resistance first arrived on the iPhone 7 in 2016, which makes Apple a tad late to the party, but they’ve made up for it by upgrading their flagship 2018 iPhones to the IP68 rating. They’ve actually been tested for up to 2 meters of water for 30 minutes, which slightly edges out the competition. Note that the somewhat more budget-friendly model, the iPhone XR, sticks to the last-gen IP67 rating.
Budget flagship killer maker OnePlus has made waves with its phones, which are equipped with top-grade parts but are aimed at much lower price segments. However, that lower price tag has often come with some compromises, and one of those compromises has been water resistance.
Until now. The marketing for the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro has involved plenty of phones dropped in water, and there is clearly some water-resistant capacity being described here. However, the OnePlus 7 does not have IP certification due to the costs involved in standardized testing.
Is it water-resistant? Sure. To the same degree as other IP-rated flagships? You’re not going to get 30 minutes of immersion in two meters of water, that’s for sure, but it’ll probably survive a little rain.
Sony Xperia 1
Sony is no stranger to waterproof phones. Its 2013 flagship, the Xperia Z, was one of the very first “normal” flagship devices to have waterproofing, meaning that it wasn’t extra-heavy or bulky, or armed with visibly ugly rubber seals everywhere. Going back even further in time, the 2011 Xperia active was a then-midrange phone that came with IP67 water resistance, long before the trend started.
Now, Sony’s latest flagship, the Xperia 1, upholds the water resistance tradition with an IP68 rating. It additionally has the MIL-STD-810G rating that allows it to survive even harsher waterborne conditions than other phones.
We mentioned the Doogee S90 in our last article about tech for the apocalypse. How does it stack up against the other entries here? Well, for starters, this thing claims it can survive immersion in up to 1.5 meters of water for 2…weeks.
Yeah, we’re done here.