What You Should Know About Water Resistant Phones

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on December 15, 2016, Buying Guides

Water resistant phones are becoming ever more popular these days, and water resistance is fairly standard for high end products. Whilst you might think that this means your expensive phone is pretty indestructible when it comes to liquid, this isn't exactly true. There are some great water resistant phones around, but you'll be paying a fair price, and if you don't take appropriate precautions then you could be making an expensive mistake. That's why we're taking a look at all you need to know about water resistant phones.

Water Resistant Does NOT Equal Waterproof

The first thing that you need to be aware of here is that water resistant and waterproof are not the same thing at all. Waterproof technology is specifically designed to be immersed in water, and water will not in any way affect it. Water resistant on the other hand means that a device can withstand certain amounts of water for certain amounts of time, depending on its IP rating (which we'll get to in a minute). A water resistant phone is NOT designed to be fully immersed in deep water for long periods of time!

That All Important IP Rating

Products that are designed to withstand environmental elements are given an IP rating. This will be the letter IP followed by two numbers. The first of these numbers indicates how well a device can withstand dust and solid objects, the second number indicates how well the device can withstand water. Any water resistant phone that you buy will have an IP rating mentioned somewhere, and depending on this rating will be able to withstand differing amounts of water. The most common IP water ratings for phones are 6, 7 and 8 (remember that we're looking at the second number, so that's IPX6, IPX7, and IPX8, where the X is a different number indicating dust resistance).

A 6 rating means that a phone can handle strong jets of water from any direction for at least three minutes, it does NOT mean a phone can be immersed in water. A 7 rating indicates that a device can be immersed in water anywhere from 15 cm to 1 metre in depth for up to thirty minutes. An 8 rating means that a phone can be immersed in water over 1 metre in depth for a “long” period of time. That long period of time must be determined by the manufacturer and will be mentioned in your mobile's manual.

As you can see, a phone can be marketed as water resistant for different conditions, and it's up to you to check that IP rating to find out what your phone is and isn't designed for.

Water Resistant Does NOT Mean Indestructible

Next up is that fact that just because your phone is water resistant doesn't mean that it's indestructible. And there are two real issues here. The first is somewhat obvious in that a water resistant phone isn't necessarily indestructible by other methods. A good example of this is your washing machine. Stick that IPX8 rated phone in a washing machine and technically it should be okay. In reality, it probably won't be. Why? Because whilst the water might not effect it, all the knocking around inside the washer will. One crack in the phone's seal and it's no longer water resistant.

Secondly, there's the liquid factor. A water resistant phone is water resistant, not coke resistant or wine resistant or mud resistant. The only liquid that it has been tested with is water, so spilling your coffee on it might effect it. Connected to that is that fact that it is fresh water tested. Sea water or chlorinated swimming pool water could end up damaging your phone, despite its water resistance.

There is also the question of depth. The depth of water that your phone is immersed in is important because deeper water equals more pressure. Your swimming watch is probably able to survive a hundred metres or more under water, your phone will not. Going down more than a metre or so will increase the pressure on your device until the seals break, and your phone's innards get wet.

Using Your Water Resistant Phone Effectively

If you want to protect your expensive new phone then you need to know how to best look after it in regards to water resistance. This isn't terribly difficult as long as you use some common sense. For example, you should make sure that all covers and ports are closed properly to create a seal before sticking your phone in the pool. You should also ensure that your phone is properly dried off before plugging it in anywhere. However, there are some other tips that we can give you to keep your phone safe.

If you put your phone in chlorinated or salt water (which isn't highly recommended) do make sure that you rinse it off with fresh water immediately after to reduce the risk of corrosion and seals breaking. Don't use soap or chemicals when rinsing your phone. Dry your phone using a paper towel or cloth, don't attempt to use heat, such as a hair dryer. On a similar note, don't take your phone into the sauna, even though it's water resistant the extreme heat may effect your device.

Finally, ensure that all the ports of your phone are completely clean. Clean ports (meaning that the USB socket, headphone socket, etc are free from dust or moisture) will mean better performance. However, this is important because forcing a dirty port to close (in order to create that waterproof seal) can push dirt into the phone itself and cause damage.

Just Be Sensible!

A water resistant phone can be a great buy. Maybe you want to take some underwater pictures, or maybe you're a little clumsy and don't want to worry about dropping your phone into a puddle every now and again. But it is important to remember that your phone isn't waterproof. Take the appropriate precautions, be sensible, and your water resistant phone will last you for years. Make a mistake, and your expensive investment is lost.