Is my phone waterproof or water-resistant?

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You’ve accidentally dropped your phone in the loo, or maybe forgot to take your phone out of your pocket before chucking your jeans in the wash. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Most phones have some water resistance these days, right?

The terms ‘waterproof’ and ‘water-resistant’ are splashed around everywhere, but what exactly do they mean? Some mobile retailers have landed themselves in hot water with industry watchdogs, like the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), for potentially misleading claims when it comes to marketing their latest ‘waterproof’ gadgets. The preferred phrase is ‘water-resistant’.

But water-resistant features won’t fully protect your phone every time it comes into contact with liquid. The device is also only likely to survive small spills – provided there aren’t already any major cracks. So, there is a big difference between the two terms. So, let’s take a deep dive into the issue to try to figure out what it means to have a waterproof and/or water-resistant phone.

Is my phone waterproof?

Typically the answer is no – but it can resist some water. Your phone can usually handle some water before taking damage, although that doesn’t make it waterproof, rather water-resistant. Most flagship phones typically have an IP rating, determining how much water the device can be exposed to, be it through depth or through exposure time. This rating information will typically be shown in your device manual, but if you’re still unsure we’ve got some information below.

What’s the difference between waterproof and water-resistant?

Is there such a thing as a true waterproof phone? The short answer is no. The term waterproof implies that the device is pretty much immune to water damage, and covered up in a way that prevents total permeation by water. However, there are a variety of water-resistant phones capable of surviving a few spills, or possibly even the odd dip underwater. Models like the iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S20 are built to minimise water from easily leaking through and damaging the device as soon as it comes into contact with liquid. You can tell how water-resistant a phone will be by checking out its IP rating.

What is an IP rating?

Similar to the WELS water ratings you see on front loader machines and other appliances, many mobile phones receive an ‘Ingress Protection’ rating (IP) to indicate how well they’re designed to be dustproof and waterproof. The rating starts with the letters ‘IP’ and is followed by two numbers.

  • The first digit represents the level of protection the phone is designed to provide against solid foreign objects that may enter the device, such as dirt or sand.
  • The second digit refers to the level of protection against liquids, specifically fresh water.

The higher the score, the better.

But tests commonly conducted according to the International Standard (IEC) 60529 don’t necessarily factor in how well the phone can resist contact with other types of liquids, such as coffee, soft drink, alcohol or salt water. Typically if these liquids get into your phone, you’ll have to be very lucky to have them working.

Example: What is the iPhone 12’s IP rating?

So, let’s take the Apple iPhone 12. This carries an IP rating of IP68, higher than the rating previously seen on the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, being IP67. When it comes to protection against things like dust, and even sand, six is the highest rating a device can achieve. This means the iPhone 12 is technically constructed to protect against the entry of all solid foreign objects, as well as any potentially harmful parts such as electrical conductors. The device also gets top marks for water protection, with an eight. The highest possible score for water damage is eight.

Compared to devices rated IP67 (like the iPhone 7), smartphones marked IP68 are claimed to better suit activities involving a longer period of submersion, because the level of water-resistance tested on these types of devices is based on ‘continuous immersion’. This is different to IP67-rated devices, which are judged on how well they can survive during temporary immersion. The IP67 rating applies more towards small spills, rather than the longer-lasting dives taken by IP68-marked phones.

What are the best waterproof and water-resistant phones?

So, which phones will sink or swim in the deep end? Here are some of the best-rated waterproof and water-resistant phones, according to the IP ratings provided by different brands.

iPhone 12, Pro, Pro Max and Mini

iPhone 12 range splashed with water

The iPhone 12 Pro is the 2020 premium phone from Apple. Similar to smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S20+ and the OPPO Find X2 Pro, it features an international standard rating of IP68 and can apparently be safely submerged up to 6m deep for a maximum of 30 minutes – in fact, all phones from the iPhone 12 line are IP68 rated. According to this, you should be able to take a few shallow underwater snaps without worries. But if you want to score some cool underwater shots for Instagram, it might be worth investing in a waterproof camera.

We’re not saying ‘older’ models should be traded in for the iPhone 11 Pro. This is especially the case when next to its larger alternative, the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is an even more expensive smartphone from Apple. Devices like the iPhone 7, iPhone 8 and iPhone X each share a rating of IP67 and have been claimed to stay afloat after the accidental splash in the toilet bowl.

Other smartphones Apple claims have been tested to be ‘splash, water, and dust resistant’:

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 12 Mini
  • iPhone SE 2020
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

If you like the sound of the iPhone 12 or the 12 Pro, you can pick it up on plans from Telstra, Vodafone and Optus. The following table shows a range of iPhone 11 Pro plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, smallest to largest. This is a selection of products including links to our referral partners.

iPhone 12 Plans

The following table shows a selection of 24-month 64GB Apple iPhone 12 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a wide range of telco providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

iPhone 12 Pro Plans

The following table shows a selection of 24-month 128GB Apple iPhone 12 Pro plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool above to see plans from a wide range of telco providers. This is a selection of products with links to referral partners.

Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra

Samsung S20 Ultra

Are you searching for a phone with water-resistance features that are out of this world? The Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+ and S20 Ultra has an IP68 rating and is claimed to protect from dust and withstand up to 1.5m of water for no longer than 30 minutes.

The latest Samsung Galaxy series has certainly made a splash since its release, including 5G versions of each phone. Other Samsung smartphones which have a similar IP rating include the Galaxy S10 and S10+, Galaxy S9 and S9+, Galaxy Note 8, and the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge models.

Recently, Samsung has come under fire from the ACCC over its advertising around the water resistance of several of its phones including the S10 series and devices manufactured between 2016 and 2019. In these advertisements, Samsung had included images of phones being used in and around oceans and swimming pools, yet advises on its website that it is not suitable for ocean or pool use. Generally water resistant features for phones are referencing fresh water only.

If you’re keen on the S20 series, a number of telcos have these devices available bundled with a phone plan. The following table shows a range of Samsung Galaxy S20 plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, smallest to largest. This is a selection of products including links to our referral partners.

Google Pixel 5

Pixel 5 all angles Black

Like the rest of the smartphones mentioned in this list, the Google Pixel 5 has an IPX8 rating. This phone can be submerged around 1m deep in water. Generally, devices with an IPX8 rating are usually suitable for continuous immersion in water. IPX8 means the phone can withstand being over 1m deep in water for up to 30 minutes. The specific circumstances a phone can withstand usually vary between different manufacturers. Also, keep in mind that most electronic gadgets are apparently sealed in a way which allows a certain amount of water to safely pass through without causing any harm.

Looking to pick up the Pixel 5 on a new phone plan? The following table shows a range of Google Pixel 5 plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, smallest to largest. This is a selection of products including links to our referral partners.

OPPO Find X2 Pro, Neo and Lite

The back of the Find X2 Pro, an OPPO smartphone

OPPO’s 2020 flagship run of phones includes the Find X2 prefix, including the Pro, Neo and the Lite. These are all top of the line smartphones at different price points, and are technically quite different. One of the biggest differences is the IP rating:

  • The Find X2 Pro has an IP68 rating, meaning it can be submerged at a depth of 1.5m for up to half an hour
  • The Find X2 Neo and the Find X2 Lite have no confirmed IP ratings, meaning that there’s no guarantee of how these devices will last with water. They could be fine, but you’re better of not risking it.

If you’re interested in an OPPO Find X2 Pro, consider picking one up from the table below. The following table shows selected published OPPO Find X2 Pro plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.

What should I do if my phone gets wet?

Liquid damage can hit your phone anytime, be it the rain or your morning coffee. It’s not something generally covered under a phone’s warranty, which is what makes the addition of waterproof and water-resistant features more attractive. Here’s some things you should try:

  • Immediately after getting splashed with water, soak it up with a paper towel before it enters any small crevices in the phone (including around the screen, the SIM card slot and the headphone jack)
  • Seal your device in a bag or tub of rice, so that the rice can soak up the water

If your phone has been damaged by water, you can use our free comparison tool to shop for a new one. There’s also plenty of cheap phones out there now that you should consider as a replacement. Below you’ll find a table outlining some of the most popular phones on the Australian market right now, and how they fair as far as price and IP ratings go.

Phone IP Rating RRP

iPhone 12 

IP68

$1,349

iPhone SE

IP67

$679

iPhone 11

IP68

$999

Samsung Galaxy S20

IP68

$1,089

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE

IP68

$999

Samsung Galaxy A51

IP67

$599

Google Pixel 5

IPX8

$999

Google Pixel 4a

N/A

$599

OPPO Find X2 Pro

IP68

$1,599

OPPO Find X2 Lite

N/A

$649

LG Velvet

IP68

$899

Huawei P30 Pro

IP68

$898

Table correct as of December 2020

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