Google Pixel 5a is splashed on a bench with water droplets

Jamie Westenberg / Android Authority

Like millions of people across sunburnt Europe, I have taken refuge from the heat at my local swimming pool. I saw more than a few people using their phones, smart watches, and even headphones in or around the water. At least one guy routinely wets his Galaxy S21 to record his friends’ water slide antics. He shared the results with his friends, proudly assuring them that “it’s okay, it’s waterproof.” This made me a little angry.

Your phone is not waterproof, and depending on how long you’ve had it, it may not be water resistant at all. Let’s talk about waterproof gadgets and some of the myths surrounding them.

Also read: Guide to the best durable phone case

Your “waterproof” phone is not waterproof

Despite what some advertising suggests, smartphones are not waterproof. It means liquid Will Reach inside the device if enough pressure is applied. Pressure increases with depth, so one common way to learn this hard lesson is to drop the device into the bottom of a pool or water. A strong splash, a wave, a jet of water, or moving the phone too fast in the water can also increase the pressure over its resistance threshold. It only takes a few drops of water to ruin the device, although the damage may not be immediately apparent.

Your phone may be water-resistant, but it’s not waterproof—an important distinction.

For this reason, phone manufacturers are careful to specify in fine print that their products are water resistant, not waterproof. Also, they are usually aware of the ingress protection (IP) standard against which their products have been tested. But there is a twist.

Not all IP68 phones have the same level of water resistance

Nokia XR20 is half submerged in water

Eric Zaman / Android Authority

Manufacturers rely on ingress protection (IP) ratings to tell users how well a phone can withstand water and dust penetration. The IP68 rating of phones like the Galaxy S22, iPhone 13 Pro or Pixel 6 Pro is the highest level of water resistance you can get in a consumer device. But confusingly, not all IP68 devices are created equal.

For example, the iPhone 13 series advertised As “splash, water and dust resistant […] With IP68 standard according to IEC 60529 standard (maximum depth of 6 meters up to 30 minutes).

The Galaxy S22 series, which also has an IP68 rating, is the only one advertised It can withstand water up to a depth of 1.5 meters.

Meanwhile, Google says The Pixel 6 series is IP68 rated according to IEC 60529 (same as the iPhone 13), but it doesn’t actually specify what depth the phones have been tested.

Even with the same IP rating, manufacturers advertise different viable depths.

Here’s how to determine the IP68 rating below IEC 60529 standard. As you can see in the video below, in about four minutes, the product is simply placed in a tank of fresh water and left there for 30 minutes. If no water is detected inside after that, the phone gets the IP68 seal of approval. It’s hardly a hard test or experiment to explain the different ways people use their phones.

As for the reason the iPhone 13 is rated for 6 meters of water, while the Galaxy S22 only claims 1.5 meters, it’s because the IEC 60529 standard allows it. It only needs a depth of more than one meter and a duration of more than 30 minutes. Manufacturers can specify their goals beyond that.

Your waterproof phone may not be water resistant at all

While many people understand the difference between water-resistant and waterproof and what IP68 roughly means, most don’t realize that phones and other electronics are only water-resistant when you take them out of the box. are. as many days as Normal use It can leave a supposedly water-resistant phone unprotected.

iPhone 2 water resistance claim

Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

iPhone 13 Pro water resistance claim

According to product pages from the biggest phone makers, here’s what can reduce a phone’s water resistance:

  • Apple: “Normal Wear”
  • Google: “normal wear and tear, device repair, disassembly or damage” as well as “dropped device” and “chips or cracks in your phone’s body or screen.”
  • Samsung: use of the beach or pool
  • Huawei: Normal use
  • Oppo: “Normal Wear”

Using the phone regularly can destroy its water resistance.

For this reason, none of the major manufacturers offer any kind of warranty on water damage. In fact, they expressly warn against putting any stock in the water resistance claims of their products and specify that water damage will not be repaired under warranty. They just do it in the fine print – and put an asterisk on the big water resistance claims in the marketing materials.

Why does water resistance decrease over time?

To make a phone water-resistant, manufacturers first try to pack everything as tightly as possible and limit the number of points where water can penetrate. Glue is then used to create watertight connections between components, as well as various gaskets, seals, and strips made of glue, silicone, or rubber. In fact, one of the reasons phones are so hard to repair these days is because of all the glue that’s used to hold parts and water together.

Phones are water resistant when they’re new, but that’s all you can be sure of.

The problem is that adhesives and seals naturally degrade over time. They dry out, crack, chip, shrink, or shift, eventually allowing water to seep in. This happens due to exposure to air, heat, various chemicals from the environment and mechanical stress.

Corrosion of iFixit iPhone

This image from iFixit shows the corrosive effects of water on a smartphone

Now think about what people do with their phones. In addition to “normal wear and tear”, here is a non-exhaustive list of things that are detrimental to water resistance:

  • Falling or bumping
  • Changing shapes (like when you accidentally sit on your phone)
  • Cracks in the screen or body, even hairline cracks
  • Immersion in hot water (shower) or cold water
  • Immersing a hot phone (such as after sitting in the sun) or a cold phone (after sitting in air conditioning) in water
  • Exposure to chlorinated water (such as swimming pools) or salt water (sea)
  • Sand or other debris sitting in phone ports
  • Exposure to chemicals such as alcohol, acids (such as vinegar foods), or various solvents (such as cosmetics)
  • Any repair or disassembly of the device.

In short, phones are water resistant when they’re new, but that’s about all you can be sure of.

Can I say my phone is still water resistant?

If you put your phone through an official IP test, you can’t be sure if your device is still protected.

Some apps claim to determine if the phone is still water resistant. An example is this Water resistance testerBy developer Raymond Wang. It works by using the phone’s internal barometer to measure whether the pressure inside the phone changes when force is applied to the screen.

Water resistance test application

Bogdan Petrovan / Android Authority

I tested it on my 3 year old Mate 20 Pro and it worked as advertised. It said my phone is no longer water resistant, although there’s nothing I can do to verify if that’s true.

Unfortunately, unofficial apps like Water Resistance Tester aren’t much help in warranty cases or repair shop disputes. If your phone is still protected, they’ll just give you some peace of mind, or warn you if it’s not.

Manufacturers should pay more attention to water resistance

Water Cat S62 Pro

Chase Burnett / Android Authority

Having some degree of protection from the elements is better than none. Over the past few years, IP ratings have become increasingly common not only on high-end phones but also on more affordable devices. At the very least, an IP rating tells consumers that the product they’re investing in has some level of protection against the inevitable. The producers deserve credit for this.

The problem is that some brands don’t settle for accident protection marketing. They also want to sell water resistance as a feature that opens up new ways to use your phone. Fun at the beach! Photo in the pool! Diving with your phone! If you believe the marketing, nothing is off limits for some of these phones. Many people seem to believe the marketing and end up with compromised devices.

No, Xiaomi, you can’t use that phone underwater.

Sometimes advertisements are literally overdone. Here’s a video Xiaomi released last year promoting the Mi 11 Ultra’s IP68 rating. This suggests that the phone can be used in the deep sea, even with a small star to warn customers that it is not actually the case.

Even Apple, under the slogan “Relax, it’s the iPhone”, a Recent video Which means that chlorinated water is an A-OK pool. Well, at least there’s no diving involved.

Also read: The best waterproof phones

Finally, a splash from the pool or a crash with your drink probably won’t destroy your phone. The key word is “probably”. Don’t buy into the marketing, don’t forget what IP68 (or whatever lab-tested rating) really means, treat your devices with a little care, and have fun in the pool. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.