Water-resistant doesn’t mean what you think it means, in more ways than one

  It’s a good feeling knowing that you won’t have to break the rice out if you get caught in the rain. However, one major issue in the tech community is manufacturers not being clear about exactly how resistant to water their devices are.

  Truth be told, there are so many facts that they just don’t tell you about water-resistant phones. Even if you have a water-resistant phone, there are still steps you need to take to ensure its longevity. Here’s what you need to know about taking care of a water-resistant phone.

What Is Water-Resistant?

  First and foremost: water-resistant is not waterproof! So many companies falsely advertise their devices as waterproof, but there’s no such thing as a waterproof phone. Waterproof means completely protected from water; whereas, water-resistant means that it can combat water, but water will seep in, eventually.

The IP Certification System

  When a device is made water-resistant, it’s given an IP (Ingress Protection) rating to let people know how resilient it is. It’s indicated by the letters “IP” followed by two numbers; for example, IP68. The first number indicates how resistant the phone is to solids, and the second number does the same for liquids. The higher the number, the more resistant the phone is.

   Most phones come out with an IP rating of IP68, which means that the phone is protected from all types of dust and sand. It also means that the phone can be submerged under 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. A zero means that it’s not protected at all, and an X means that the company didn’t test the phone for that material.

What Makes a Phone Water-Resistant?

  Phones aren’t the only devices that can be water-resistant; anything from your Bluetooth speaker to your electrical socket can have an IP rating. When it comes to phones, there are several ways that they reject water. First and foremost, there are adhesives. The backplate of your phone is held tightly in place by strong adhesive strips. This creates a strong seal that keeps water from seeping through the seam.

  There are parts on your phone that just won’t work with adhesive, like ports. Ports like the headphone jack, charging port, microphones, and sim/SD card tray use a thick rubber gasket instead. This gasket is sandwiched between the port and the chassis of the phone to create a tight seal. Buttons are given a silicone boot to keep water away from the circuitry, and speaker grilles use a water-resistant mesh material to repel liquids.


How Long Can Your Phone Be Underwater?

   If your phone has an IP_7 or IP_8 (the first number isn’t important in this case, so they’re represented by underscores) it can survive being fully submerged underwater, but there are limitations. A phone with IP_7 is rated to survive up to a meter underwater, and a phone with IP_8 is rated to last up to 1.5 meters. Secondly, they’re rated to stay at those depths for up to 30 minutes.

   However, each phone’s mileage will vary. The IP certification means that they were tested to reach those numbers. Depending on how good of a job the company did, a phone can survive even deeper or even longer.


  As mentioned before, manufacturers like to hide important information about their water-resistant phones. One important bit of information is that their phones can only survive exposure to freshwater. This is a crucial tidbit of information, as it can mean the difference between a functional phone and a dead one.

  If you drop your phone in the sink, a pond, or a toilet, it will be just fine because that’s freshwater. The story changes once we encounter other types of water. You don’t want to take your phone to the beach because you don’t want to expose it to saltwater. The salt in the seawater will actually dissolve the adhesive glueing the phone together.

  This goes the same for the chlorine in your pool water. In a YouTube video by Michael Fisher (see below), he took his LG V30 to the beach and a pool only to find his phone fried by the end of the day. The salt and chlorine were able to eat away at the adhesive. It was so bad that salt was actually able to deposit itself in the phone. There are ways to fix a water-damaged phone in case this happens.

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