Water resistant vs Waterproof phones

Today, in addition to the mind-blowing features smartphones and many mobile gadgets come with, many of them also claim to be “waterproof” or “water-resistant”. Manufacturers tag their new products like smartwatches, iPhones, Android Phones, fitness trackers, and so on with terminologies such as “water-resistant” or “waterproof”.

Do you really know what these terms denote and how they affect the gadgets you use? Does it mean you can throw your phone in a pool or go scuba-diving with it since it’s labeled “waterproof”? In this blog, we explain the meanings of these terminologies and what they mean for your mobile device.

Water resistant vs Waterproof phones

Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant

It might seem confusing and hard to differentiate between these two terms. In fact, some may use them interchangeably. The truth, however, is that they are different.

In simple terms, “water-resistant” typically means that water can definitely enter the device but there are limits to how far it can get into the device. That also means the device can still function well even with some water splashed on its body or after spending few seconds in a pool or bathtub. However, submerging water-resistant phones in water for a longer duration, such as while swimming or scuba-diving activities will damage them.

On the other hand, “waterproof” means that the device can never allow water to penetrate through it under any circumstances. In other words, they can stay underwater for longer than water-resistant phones. In reality, though, this is more of a marketing branding, as no water is completely waterproof. There are levels to which a smartphone can actually stay in water before water penetrates through it.

Unlike in wearables, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) sets standardized tests for water resistance in smartphones. These IEC tests are denoted by International Protection or Ingress Protection (IP) codes. IP codes have two digits that show the rating of the device. The first digit usually shows the dust protection (6 being the highest rating). This feature is particularly useful for engineers, factory workers, mountain bikers and hikers, and other professionals who have to use their smartphones in dusty environments.

The second digit stands for water protection (9 being the highest rating). Today, most smartphones offer 7 or 8 level of water protection, while some older devices’ level of water resistance may range between levels 4-6.


Don’t be deceived by your device’s advertised IP rating though. The rating only works for normal water. Seawater and other liquids like soda, coffee, and tea are exceptions. This means that, while it may be safe to use your phone in normal water, other kinds of liquids may damage your device. That said, even with a high IP rating, exposing your smartphone continuously to water may wear out the protection and make it susceptible to water damage.

It’s also important to note that, most smartphone warranties do not cover water damages. That means the company may not replace your phone with a new one if you drop it in water shortly after buying it and it stops working.

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