Is your phone really water ‘proof’?


One of the biggest features of smartphones today, is that they are water resistant or claim to be waterproof. There are plenty of ads on the market with users submerging their devices underwater, taking pictures, or even listening to music while in water. While being waterproof/water resistant is a great feature, people seem to take it too far, because they may be misled by phone manufacturers or they don’t understand the rating system. Is your phone really waterproof? Today we’ll explain what is waterproof and what isn’t.

First off, there is a scale that is made to test just that. It is called the IP code or International Protection Marking. This classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against intrusions into your device, such as water and dust. Below, you can see a table we made explaining how the IP rating works.

The first number in the rating is the ingress protection of dust, and it ranges from not protected to dust tight. The second number in the rating is the water ingress protection, which ranges from not protected to being able to be submerged at any depth beyond one meter. For most instances, it is never tested beyond three meters and not tested for more than thirty minutes.

Most phones only get rated if they plan on claiming dust resistance or water resistance as a feature. For instance, the Xperia Z, the self-proclaimed ‘first waterproof smartphone’ comes in at an IP 57 rating. If you look at the chart, you’ll see that it is not at all waterproof. It can be immersed under water in anything shallower than one meter, for at least thirty minutes. It also isn’t entirely dust tight, it is dust protected. That means that dust getting into the device isn’t entirely protected, but it must enter in large quantities to affect the phone.

While Sony may have been one of the first phones to feature water resistance, Samsung advertised their Galaxy S4 Active as ‘whatever proof’. It may be whatever proof, but it is definitely not waterproof. The S4 Active comes in on the scale at an IP 67 rating. It has the same water resistance rating as the Xperia Z, but you’ll notice it is one of the first phones to offer a dust tight rating. Samsung’s newest device, the Galaxy S5 comes standard with the IP 67 rating.

While phones may not be entirely waterproof, they resist water up to an extent. It is good to see that more manufacturers are making it a standard that their devices are water resistant or dust tight. It is a great convenience to have on our devices we take every where, which also includes every where we shouldn’t. Next time you bring your phone out to the lake and you think it is waterproof, think twice before diving in with your $500 phone in your pocket. While it will most likely survive, it may not be the best idea… and make sure your USB port cover is closed!

Below you can find a list of the most popular smartphones and their IP Rating

Galaxy S5: IP 67
Xperia Z: IP 57
Xperia Z1S/Z2: IP 58
HTC One M8: IP (?)3
iPhone 5s/5c/5: Not rated
LG G3: Not rated

If you have any questions about IP Rating, phone questions in general, shoot us an email at [email protected] or throw a tweet our way @PhoneProbe


About Author

I skateboard, listen to metal, write on my website FWNED, autocross, and love messing with new phones. Currently I'm using a Pixel XL running Pure Nexus with ElementalX as my daily driver.