Tips for Waterproofing Your Phone


Water and technology–especially delicate technology like smartphones–is never a good combo. But, unfortunately, water and liquids are a part of everyday life. I can’t explain how many times I’ve seen or heard of a phone that took a suicidal leap into a body of water (or a toilet), never to function properly again. Heck, I once drowned a phone in sweet tea on accident. It didn’t end well. So today, I wanted to talk a bit about waterproofing options for your smartphone.

Water resistant vs. Water repellent vs. Waterproof

Some phone claim to already be protected against water. But, that might not mean what you think it does. Marketing for phones can be tricky if you’re not very tech-savvy, and there is a lot of confusion about what, exactly, waterproof, water resistant and water repellent really means as far as your phone goes. While I will warn that each company does have some leeway as far as each definition, here’s what it generally means:
  • Water Resistant – This usually means that the device has the most basic and least helpful water protection. It can probably stand a tiny bit of water, but you’ll still need to be careful as the phone can definitely be damaged by water.
  • Water repellent – This likely means that the device has been coated with some kind of nanotechnology to make the device more hardy against water. You guess it; it ‘repels’ the water. Many of the phone commercials you see where they hold the device under a running faucet while it plays a video are actually only water repellent. Not that I recommend you try that; these devices can still be harmed by water, but a little rain isn’t going to kill it outright.
  • Waterproof – This means that the device has been, for the most part, secured against submersion in water for a specific amount of time. You’ll want to check the rating and fine print on the phone, as many times there are flaps that must be secured to get the waterproofing effect. Additionally, many of these devices are only ‘waterproofed’ for a certain depth and amount of time, so you won’t want to take it scuba diving, most likely.
It’s worth noting that these are all generalizations. While the Ingress Protection rating (IP rating) is technically the standard by which technology is measured, there is a lot of debate and wiggle room for companies looking for an edge. Generally speaking, caution is never a bad thing and make sure that you always read the fine print if your phone claims to be protected from water.

Temporary solutions

If your phones doesn’t make any claims about protection from water (and most do not) but you want some kind of temporary solution for going to the beach or the lake, then you do have some options. I personally recommend the JOTO bag, which fits most devices, is waterproof (provided you use it properly and test the integrity of the bag first) and it’s actually not all that expensive. You can also put your cash or credit cards in it, depending on the size of the device. You can pick one up on Amazon for about $10 most of the time. Of course, if you aren’t wanting to spend the money, technically a regular ziplock baggie should work just fine. You can check out a video with a method here. I have actually done this for a afternoon at the beach and it worked great, but these bags are pretty flimsy so you would be taking a bit of a risk. I really would just recommend forking out the money for the JOTO as it’s reusable.

Permanent solutions

If you are more worried about water, or know that your phone will come in contact with water more frequently, then you might want to take more permanent steps than a baggie. Generally speaking you really only have two main options here: nanocoating or a waterproof case. There are a variety of waterproof cases available for most of the big brand-name devices, and if you have a flagship (even an older one like the Galaxy S3) then you should be able to find something. Lifeproof is a great brand that comes to mind. The catch is that these cases can run pretty expensive–sometimes $50 or more–and they are rather heavy and bulky. But, they will easily double the life of your device where water is concerned. However, if you have a low or midrange device (as is common with prepaid carriers) then you might not be able to find a real waterproof case for your device. However, you do still have a second, slightly less useful solution: nanocoating. companies like Liquipel will add a nanocoating to any device which will make it slightly more resistant to water. This isn’t the same as waterproofing, as you read above, but it is better than nothing and will definitely improve your phone’s chances should it decide to take a dive into some water or if you walk in the rain a lot. Although, really, your best bet is to just keep your technology away from water.]]>

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