Durable phones are finally starting to come in to vogue, with protection from liquids being high on the agenda. Fully functional, top-tier
devices are hitting shelves that are not only water-resistant, but waterproof.
We’ve collected our favourite waterproof and water-resistant
smartphones on the market right now. These are not huge ‘rugged’ phones either, but sleek, pocket-friendly handsets with some of today's best features.
So far the field is mostly comprised of Sony Xperia devices, but with any luck we'll get a bit more diversity in the near future.
A quick guide to IP Ratings
Protected devices are judged by the Ingress
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
The maximum dust protection is 6; the maximum standard water
protection is 8. To keep things simple, we only need to pay attention
to dust protection from 5 and up, and water resistance from 5 and up.
Water resistance by IP levels:
- 5: protected from jets of water, like holding it up the tap in your kitchen sink.
- 6: protected from more powerful water jets.
- 7: can be submerged in water of up to 1-metre for a short period of time.
- 8: can be taken further than 1-metre underwater, and for periods up to 30-minutes.
Sony's flagship, the new Xperia Z5, is probably the best phone in market with a water resistant chassis. Packed with the latest high-end hardware, the Z5 is a great choice if you want power and the ability to take your phone in the pool.
The phone comes with a 5.2-inch display, with a Full HD resolution, a super-sharp 23-megapixel camera, and 32GB of storage for music and apps.
As with other Sony phones, it also has a 'cap-free' charging port, meaning that you don't need to wrestle with a plastic cover each time you want to charge your phone. This may sound like a minor feature, but trust us when we say that this is a big step forward in water resistant smartphones.
The M4 Aqua is a mid-range handset, making it the cheapest on this list at around half the price of a new GS6 Active or around 60% the price of an Xperia Z3, depending on where you're buying from.
With a 5 inch 720p HD display it's not the crispest kid in town, but remember we're talking mid-tier pricing here. That in itself makes the 13MP rear camera a real bonus, as well as the 5MP front-facing camera for, let's face it: selfies.
It rocks the same water and dust resistance ratings as the flagship Z3 (IP65 and IP68), and a 2400mAh battery that Sony claims will last 2 days thanks to its charge management software. While real world use is likely to require a nightly recharge, you can at least expect to make it through a full day without trouble.
For a mid-range handset it's surprisingly stylish, rocking the same tempered glass look as its more-expensive cousin. It's also just 7.2mm thick and weighs a very light 136g.
The best feature? The flap-less microUSB port. The rest of the phones on this list require a rubber or plastic flap to be kept over the USB port to prevent water damage. If this port comes loose, wears down with age, or breaks off, then your phone will become vulnerable to liquid damage. You don't have to worry about this with the M4 Aqua.
The Galaxy S5 is about a year old now, recently being supplanted by the Galaxy S6. However, the new kid on the block is missing one very important feature of the GS5: water resistance. If you want a phone that will hold up to spills and accidental trips in the sink, the GS5 is still your go-to Samsung smartphone, assuming you live in the majority of markets with no access to the GS6 Active.
It is rated
IP67, which is the same rating as 2013's rugged Galaxy S4 Active. It can survive in up to 1m of water for up to half an hour on paper (safe for trips in to the kitchen sink), but in reality people have tested it with even greater success. We wouldn't recommend purposefully repeating the experiments yourself, however.
Speaking of the sink, it's not advisable to run any direct water pressure over the S5. Its rating is for immersion, not water jets; no holding it under a running tap.
The GS5 rocks a 16MP camera, powerful internals, Android 4.4 KitKat, 16GB or 32GB of internal storage and a 5.2 inch 1080p display.
Available in black, white, yellow and coral, the Z5 compact is the smaller mid-range entrant that debuted alongside the flagship Z5. The Compact has just a 4.6 inch screen with 720p resolution, 2GB of RAM and a huge 2700mAh battery for a phone this size.
Other than that, it's essentially the same phone as its bigger, more-expensive sibling. It rocks a powerful octo-core 2GHz CPU and a 23MP camera that can be used underwater.
It's also just as water-resistant with both IP68 rated. If you're after a smaller underwater experience, or perhaps don't want to drop top-dollar on a phone, then the Z5 Compact is definitely worth considering.
Motorola Moto G (3rd Gen)
The latest addition to the Motorola family, the third-generation Moto G, is the only to be blessed with an IPX7 rating, meaning it can be dunked into shallow water and keep on functioning.
There is plenty more to like here, too. It has a capless USB charging port (like the Sony M4 Aqua) so there are no pesky flaps to fiddle with. You can also remove the back cover and replace it with a different coloured cover, which is awesome. All of the metal parts, like the SIM slot and MicroSD card reader are coated in nano-coating, so these can be wet and still work.
Motorola packs in a fair amount of phone here, despite it having a relatively cheap price tag. For under $400, you get a 4G phone with a 5-inch screen; a 13-megapixel camera on the back and a 5-megapixel camera on the front; the latest Android OS and a number of excellent Motorola software tweaks.
If you're looking to buy one in Australia, check out electronics retailers like Dick Smith and Harvey Norman. You won't be able to buy one through the telcos, but you can stick in a cheap monthly SIM card once you've purchased the Moto G outright.
Waterproof Phone image via Shutterstock