Everything you need to know about waterproof phones

October 16, 2023

Something BIG is coming. Google Pixel.

Dropping your phone in a puddle, a paddling pool, the bath… We’ve all been there. Or, worst of all, you’ve dropped your phone in the toilet.

Thankfully, smartphone manufacturers have come a long way in enhancing the durability and resilience of their devices, particularly when it comes to making them water resistant.

The latest generation of smartphones promise to withstand water exposure, to give us all that added peace of mind. But can they keep this promise? Just how effective is the ‘waterproofing’ of waterproof phones?

Here we delve into the world of waterproof phones to uncover their capabilities and limitations.

Do waterproof phones really work?

Yes, waterproof phones do work. But it's important to clarify the extent of water resistance in each model. Most modern smartphones labeled as ‘waterproof’ are only designed to survive slight accidental exposure to water, such as heavy splashes or brief immersion.

These devices will undergo rigorous testing to achieve a specific Ingress Protection (IP) rating, which determines the level of water resistance.

What’s the difference between a water-resistant and waterproof phone?

The terms ‘water-resistant’ and ‘waterproof’ are often used interchangeably, so it can be confusing. But there’s a subtle difference between the two.

Water-resistant phones are designed to endure limited exposure to water, but they aren’t likely to withstand complete immersion for extended periods. Waterproof phones, on the other hand, can be fully submerged in water for a certain duration, as specified by their IP rating.

How do I know if my phone is waterproof?

The water resistance of a smartphone is indicated by the IP rating. It’s a system that rates the level of protection against solids and liquids and  consists of 2 digits. The first represents dust protection, and the second denotes water resistance.

The higher the second digit, the better the phone's resistance to water. For example, a phone with an IP67 rating means it’s dust-tight and can withstand immersion in water up to 1 metre, for around 30 minutes. An IP68 rating offers even better protection, so the phone can be submerged at a greater depth, for a longer time.

You should be able to find your phone's IP rating on the product packaging or in the manufacturer manual. But be aware that water resistance may diminish over time, due to wear and tear or damage to a phone's seals. It’s recommended that you always avoid intentionally submerging your phone, even if it has a high IP rating. Because prolonged exposure or pressure at greater depths can still lead to water damage.

Are refurbished phones still water-resistant?

Water-resistance can diminish over time, so in a refurbished phone it depends on the refurbishment process and the phone's original design. In some cases, phones will retain their water resistance if the refurbishment has been carried out by an authorised technician, using genuine parts. But not all refurbished phones are guaranteed to be water-resistant.

Before buying a refurbished phone, always check with the seller or manufacturer to confirm whether the device retains its water resistance. Additionally, if you’re buying the phone in-person, inspect the phone for any signs of damage or tampering that could compromise its water-resistance.

What are some of the best waterproof phones on the market?

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra is one of the top contenders for the best waterproof phone in the UK. With an impressive IP68 rating, it can withstand submersion in up to 1.5 metres of water for 30 minutes. The premium design and robust build of the S22 Ultra makes it an ideal choice if you’re after both high-end performance and reliable water resistance.

If you prefer iOS, the Apple iPhone 13 is a top-tier waterproof option. Also boasting an IP68 rating, it can survive submersion in up to 6 metres of water for 30 minutes. The iPhone 13 Pro is also a great choice if you’re looking for a high-end waterproof phone in the UK.

There’s no doubt that recent developments in waterproofing and water-resistance brings a new level of convenience and protection to your mobile life.

With the ever-increasing level of IP-rated water resistance, many devices can withstand accidental water exposure and minor spills that would previously have seen us paying out for repairs, or grabbing a bag of rice. Just for the record, that doesn’t work!

But it’s still important to remember that water resistance in phones has its limitations, so intentional submersion should be avoided. Once again, always check the IP rating of your phone and follow the manufacturer guidelines to make sure you get maximum enjoyment with minimum risk.

Take a look at our full range of phones to find the right level of durability and water resistance. With Three Insurance you get protection against accidental damage - including water damage - so it’s worth adding it to your basket.