Galaxy S5Currently, the trend is the water-resistant smartphone. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 64 percent of U. S. households now own a smartphone. For just having the basic cellphone, ownership is at 51 percent. As you already know, they can do just about anything. For example, some are so equipped that they can perform some of the same functions of a video recorder, digital camera, eBook reader, flashlight and can act as your girl Friday if you set it up that way.

Since this site is about waterproof cameras, would it surprise you that there are a few water resistant smartphones out there? If you could see the tests owners have put their handsets through, you would agree they have to be waterproof to even endure the intensity of  being dunked in order to demonstrate the validity of the manufacturer’s claims. Until recently, I thought the smartphone still had an aversion to water or any type of inclement weather for that matter. Now, of course I see that it is no longer the case.

Earlier smartphones were not made to operate effectively in inclement weather or water, but now it seems as though some of the models on the market can be seen as semi-tough or rugged, but still lack the actual certification of being tough or rugged. This is because although the devices may be water-resistent, they still lack the features of being shockproof,  freezeproof or crushproof like the waterproof digital camera.

If you are not familiar with these water resistant phones, you may already own one and just don’t know it. What’s interesting, is that it appears there was some talk about splash proof phones beginning back in 2010. Since then, advances in water-resistant coatings and seals have made it where more electronic devices are taking advantage of this technology.

There are two companies that have made it their business to promote a waterproof or water-resistance process for other electronics than waterproof cameras and other electronics. The companies are P2i and  HzO make coatings they refer to as “nano-coating solutions.” According to P2i’s website, they specialize in splash-proof or Dunkable nano-coatings.  Their protective nano-coating application process depends on the device, the level of water protection required and where in the production line the delivery of the nano-coating will occur.”  

These companies are working on coatings that go  beyond the military spec for 30 minutes and 3 feet of water. In fact, it is reported that a treated handset has been submerged in water for more than an hour and a half. HzO takes a different approach. The company describes its process as coating the inside of the device, but not the exterior. “With the special nanometer coating, HzO protects everything that makes your phone go without you even noticing HzO has been applied. This results in a complete waterproof, gunk-proof and Kool-Aid-proof gadget that is literally impervious to liquids and corrosion, even salt water.

The process is introduced during a gadget’s manufacturing process — not after a device is sold. For example, HZO coating is found on the military’s electronic compasses used by U.S. Special Forces and it also can be used on glucose monitors for diabetics so they don’t have to take them off while showering or swimming.” CEO Michael Bartholomeusz, states the next big category of devices that could benefit from HzO’s process, is in “wearable computing,” gadgets that are worn on the body, such as the Pebble watch (Smart watch for select Apple and Android devices) or Google Glass. 

The magazine Popular Mechanics even says that, “The future of electronics waterproofing is miles away from the clunky, hyper-rubberized, hyper-masculine cases that we’ve grown used to.”  With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the waterproof smartphones.

Understanding IP (Ingress Protection Rating)

Ingress Protection, or International Protection, is a rating system that defines how well an enclosure protects its internal electric equipment. On some smartphones that are either water-resistant or waterproof, you may come across a number called an IP rating. It is a certification standard that measures a device’s resistance levels to both dust and water. For example, the Sony Xperia Z1 has an IP 55/58 rating.  The first digit in the two-digit IP rating indicates the level of protection against solid objects, including tiny dust particles. The second digit indicates how resistant the device is to water.

Protected devices are judged by the Ingress Protection Rating, also known as the International Protection Rating (IP rating). In an IP rating the first number always refers to dust protection, while the second refers to water resistance. For example, a rating of IP54 would mean a dust protection rating of 5 and a water resistance rating of 4. The maximum dust protection is 6; the maximum standard water protection is 8.  

If there is an “x” in place of the left digit, this means no dust protection, only water protection. If there is an “x” in place of the right digit, this means no water protection, only dust protection. The easiest way to remember is to pay attention to dust protection and water resistance or waterproof from a rating of 5 and above.

Sony Xperia Water-resistant Smartphone

Xperia Z1

Sony’s Xperia line of  smartphones has had the “water resistance” feature since the launch of the first Xperia which was “water-resistant. All later models are now waterproof to a certain Xperia Z2depth.  The Xperia Z1 is waterproof and dust-resistant for taking pictures and video in water. ones determine their level of waterproofing by an IP number, which on the Z1 is IP55/IP58 rating, which makes it waterproof and resistant to the “tiniest dust particles”. 

Users can dive into 4.9 feet (1.5 m) of freshwater (non-saline) and stay in it for up to 30 minutes with the Xperia. The most important thing to remember is that in order to not compromise the waterproofing feature of the phone, all the covers, which includes the micro USB port, the micro SIM slot, and the memory card slot must be firmly closed.   Apparently, Sony first began making their smartphones water resistant with the Xperia  which had an IP55/57 rating.  As their models began to evolve is when they began waterproofing their smartphones.

Xperia Z2

The Xperia Z2, the current offering from Sony is an upgrade to the Z1. It has the same IP rating as the Z1 at IP 55/58. This means it can be submersed in 1.5m (4.9 feet) of water for over 30 minutes and take direct pressure from a water tap. Additional information Sony shares with consumers when investing in their smartphones is, “In compliance with IP55 and IP58, the Xperia is protected against the ingress of dust and is waterproof. Provided that all ports and covers are firmly closed, the phone is (i) protected against low pressure jets of water from all practicable directions in compliance with IP 55; and/or (ii) can be kept under 1.5m (4.9ft) of freshwater for up to 30 minutes in compliance with IP 58. The phone is not designed to float or work submerged underwater outside of the IP55 or IP58 classification range. This may lead to your warranty being void.”

water-resistant smartphones

 

Samsung Galaxy Water-resistant Smartphones

Sometimes it can get confusing about the Galaxy line of handsets because there are so many of them with closely related names and features. For example, the previous  S4 is not waterproof or water-resistant, but the S4 Active was the water-resistant, dustproof rugged  model among this line of smartphones.  When Samsung released the Galaxy S4 it was followed up with four slightly different versions geared to appeal to a range of users. Currently, the S4 and S4 Active have been upgraded by the Galaxy S5  and S5 Active. Currently, both upgraded Galaxy smartphones are water resistant.

Galaxy S5Galaxy S5
The latest addition to Samsung’s popular Galaxy range of Android smartphones is the new Galaxy S5, targeting the needs of the “active user”.   It is being touted as one of the best water resistant phones on the market today.  What makes the Galaxy S5 water-resistant? The internal seals along with a combination of gaskets and coatings makes it plausible for the device to take dips in the pool or  freshwater.  The same rubbery gaskets used on the S4 behind the back cover were placed on the S5 to help plug the charging slot and protect the battery and internal electronics.

Additionally, waterproof coating was placed inside the headset jack to protect it from any wet dips that may involve the smartphone. If that wasn’t enough, the bottom charging port flap has to be completely closed to maintain the Galaxy S5’s water and dust-resistant status. Further, the S5 has a IP67 rating which means it is dust protected and water-resistance. It can take a dip in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes.  With an IP67 certification, the Galaxy S5 as the manufacturer states, ” is resistant to sweat, rain, liquids, sand and dust, so your phone is  protected for any activity or situation.”
 

Galaxy S5 Active

The S5 Active is considered the rugged model of the Samsung line of smartphones.  Designed with active users in mind, it is a little taller and wider than the Galaxy S5 with angled corners for extra scuff-proofing  and responsive physical buttons. The original Galaxy S5 comes with a hard key (Home) and two soft keys (back and task switcher). The sturdy Galaxy S5 Active features hard keys for all three buttons. However, the S5 Active comes without the fingerprint scanner. It is IP67 certified – dust and water resistant up to 1 meter (3 feet) for 30 minutes.

Samsung claims the S5 Active can survive a fall from a height of up to four feet, and 27 times in a row without experiencing damage.  There is also a raised plastic lip around the glass screen that provides further protection against scratching, in case users drop the phone face down or inadvertently lay it face down on a rough surface. The key point of difference for the Active from other smartphones is its durability. It has qualified protection from both dust and water, and the fully sealed design means the phone can stay submerged for up to 30 minutes at a depth of one meter (3 feet) in water.

Galaxy S5 “Prime” or Galaxy F

The Galaxy S5 Prime is scheduled for release in September and is considered the “superior” version of the new Galaxy S5. It is rumored to also be waterproof and dust resistant. It will have the same IP67 rating as the Galaxy S5.  Samsung is scheduled to release this model when the new iPhone 6 makes its debut and also while introducing the new Galaxy Note 4. 

 

water-resistant smartphones

Honorable Mention

HTC One (M8)

The “M” in M8 stands for “metal”, the look of the aluminum material the handset is composed from. It also makes it a very appealing smartphone. In addition to its good looks, there is some information out there that talks about the effectiveness of the HTC One M8 as water-resistant or waterproof. However,  the manufacturer does not promote this as a feature for the phone. What is for sure is that it can withstand some dampness. Recently, the company came out and stated the phone does have an IP rating of X3. This means the device is protected against spraying water, but only at certain angles, and a set pressure. It will be okay for about five minutes. It won’t last if the phone is dropped in the bath tub, but it will be okay in the rain.

Granted, the HTC One (M8) does not have water-resistance certification, but it has survived being submerged in a shallow pool of water for more than an hour without any apparent damage to the internals, including the Duo Camera, which remained fully operational. The site Techsmart performed its own test and dunked the phone in water for over 90 minutes with the screen on. This test didn’t result in any water damage to the device. 

Although, it was an unofficial test, it does show that the HTC One M8 can successfully survive water accidents including spills and immersions.  Consumers, should take this cautiously because no one has shown that the phone can survive being underwater any deeper than a few inches. An explanation for this water-resistant phenomenon is that it may be due to the compact build of  the One (M8) which may assist in resisting water ingress to an extent, but it doesn’t mean the handset was designed to do so.  Even though the handset may continue to function after being submerged in water, it is still possible for water to have leaked inside the phone which could cause corrosion rendering it inoperable if left unchecked.

Motorola Moto G

The Moto G does not have an IP rating nor does the manufacturer state it is a water-resistant or waterproof phone. However, what it does say is that the phone’s internal components have been wrapped with a water-resistant nano-coating.  The screen is also protected by Gorilla Glass and is described as being “splash resistant.”  The smartphone could be used in the rain without fear of being damaged by the water, but users are cautioned against using it in a pool for an extended period of time.

One user took  the Moto G to test in an effort to see just how much water could it take on before it stopped working. The results showed it will survive an accidental spill in the water. The Moto G survived a 15-second dip and was not affected. A 10-minute dive followed, which resulted in  random crashes, but no overall operational issues.   Then, the user tried a 30 minute water submersion.  After shaking out the water and letting the phone dry for a few seconds, again everything was functional. Although, the manufacturer is not stating the phone is waterproof, owners of the phone are proving it can take a dive and survive.

Summary

The HTC One M8 has made an exciting entry into the world of smartphones especially with its beauty exterior design and features. Reviewers of this handset are really impressed with what it offers, but were disappointed because it did not have the same waterproof and dustproof certifications as the popular Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 which both are considered the best water resistant phones on the market.

Not to be outdone, HTC will be introducing a new premium version of their handset called the HTC One M8 Prime. It will not only be dunkable, but will have comparable features along the same lines as the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z. Waterproofing is a growing trend among the smartphone industry, case in point, the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2 and the less popular and economical models.

There was some enthusiasm for the new LG G3 that it would be water resistant, but the manufacturer states waterproofing is not useful. Instead of offering it as a feature on its upcoming new LG G3 handset it will instead boost other hardware specs. So, don’t expect to see water-resistance feature as part of this smartphone. The upcoming new Samsung Note 4 will be waterproof and dustproof.

All of these smartphones can be really nice additions to your electronics collection. It just depends on what features you want and most importantly, how much you want to pay for them.

I could have included videos for the Galaxy S5 and Xperia Z2,but we already know they are water-resistant. I chose the HTC One because everyone is baffled about why it is not marketed as water-resistant, but yet passes the test for being waterproof.  Checkout the video below it shows the water resistance  test performed with the HTC One (M8). It shows what happens if you drop the phone in water. The reviewer states that typically the phones die at the 5 minute mark, but something much more interesting occurred here. Does the phone turn into a Samsung Galaxy S5? No, but it’s awful close.
 

 

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