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Top 10 Best Waterproof Phones for 2019

May 6, 2019

12:00 pm

Waterproof phones have become a big deal recently, with manufacturers keen to talk-up their phone's ability to survive a dunking.

However, ‘waterproof' is something of a misnomer. In reality, the phones on sale nowadays are water-resistant, as they can't keep out water under all circumstances.

Regardless, the best of these phones won't leave you high-and-dry even if you manage to completely submerge them.

So which are the best waterproof phones on the market?

Best Waterproof Phones 2019

Google Pixel 3 XLiPhone XSSamsung Galaxy S10Samsung Galaxy Note 9iPhone XS MaxiPhone XRHuawei Mate 20 ProiPhone 8Motorola Moto X4Samsung Galaxy S10e
google pixel 3 xl not pink smallapple iphone xs max smallSamsung Galaxy S10 waterproofsamsung galaxy note 9 smallapple iphone xs max smallapple iphone xr smallhuawei mate 20 pro smallapple iphone 8 smallmoto x4 smallSamsung Galaxy S10e small thumbnail
VerdictAn incredibly high quality phone with an impressive waterproof body to bootThe iPhone is great for a light swim or accidental splash, but not deeper divesBrilliant screen, loads of power and it'll survive a splashingAn incredible phone with unique stylus that you needn't be paranoid about dunkingThe biggest iPhone has a top-notch display and can survive a good dunkingImpressive, despite being cheaper than other iPhones but less water-resistantIt's crazy expensive, but fortunately well protected  against a dunkingFeels a bit old-fashioned now, but it's decent value at $599An affordable waterproof phone, perfect for spills or paddlesThe S10e is like the S10, but cheaper. It's still waterproof, as well
Waterproof ratingIP68– 6.5ft of water for up to 30 minsIP68– 6.5ft of water for up to 30 minsIP68– 5ft of water for up to 30 minsIP68– 5ft of water for up to 30 minsIP68– 6.5ft of “stable” water for up to 30 minsIP67– Up to 3ft of water for 30 minutesIP68– 6.5ft of water for 30 minutesIP67– 3ft of water for up to 30 minsIP67– 3ft of water for up to 30 minsIP68– 5ft of water for up to 30 mins

Not all phones sold as ‘waterproof' will have the same level of protection. So when choosing a waterproof phone, it's important to understand what conditions the phone will survive:

  • Splashes and spills – any of the phones we've listed on this page will survive accidental liquid spillage.
  • Light swimming – a quick dip in the pool should be no problem for the phones above, but most aren't built to survive the pressures of deep water.
  • Deeper dives – only phones rated as IP68 are safe to take into waters deeper than 3ft.

Learn more about all the best waterproof phones:

Also on this page:


Not all phones are waterproof yet – it’s generally a feature of higher end models. But the big manufacturers are prioritizing waterproofing for their premium lines, and that generally means the more affordable ranges will follow soon enough. Read all about the best waterproof options available to you today in the reviews below.

Google Pixel 3 XL – $899

A top-quality Android experience

While Google was a little late to the smartphone game compared to the other providers on this list, it showed up to compete with the Pixel range. The latest model is the best Pixel phone yet, and one of the best phones money can buy.

This latest phone from Google is a marvel of features, cameras, and overall perfect Android user experience. It's arguably the best phone released in the past year, with an absolute knockout camera.

  • 12.2 megapixel camera (rear); 8 megapixel camera (front)
  • 6.3-inch (1440×2960) display
  • 4GB of RAM
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor
  • Runs Android 9.0 Pie with Google Interface

Like the iPhone XS, the Google Pixel 3 XL is certified IP68 (up to 6.5 feet of water for 30 minutes). This means that taking it swimming all day on the open water is far from recommended. But, when it comes to everyday spills, drops, and even a light swim, you can rest assured the Pixel 3 XL will survive.

Read our full Google Pixel 3 XL review

google pixel 3 xl small

Pros

  • Big, bright screen
  • Best camera around
  • Runs ‘pure' Android, with no distractions
  • Unlimited photo storage
  • Speedy fast charging

Cons 

  • Large notch at the top isn't for everyone

Apple iPhone XS – $1,000

Expensive, but a great phone nonetheless

Yes, it's expensive, but it's for a good reason. Between the incredible design, the seamless interface, and overwhelmingly popular iOS, there's really no denying that you get what you pay for when it comes to the iPhone XS. Plus, when a smartphone unlocks when it recognizes your face, the last thing you want is to lose it to a glass of water.

  • Dual 12 megapixel camera (rear); 7 megapixel TrueDepth (front)
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 5.8-inch Super Retina AMOLED display
  • A12 Bionic processor with next-generation Neural Engine
  • Runs iOS 12

The iPhone XS boasts quite impressive waterproof technology, landing itself an IP68 certification. This is a step up from the X, which could only manage IP67 certification. This means your iPhone will withstand submersion in up to 6.5 feet of stable water for up to 30 minutesHowever, if you were hoping to take your new iPhone XS on a white water rafting trip, we'd advise investing in a plastic bag or two.

Click to read our full review of the Apple iPhone XS

apple iphone xs small

Pros

  • The best iPhone on the market
  • Unmatched waterproofing
  • Speeds through tasks
  • Fantastic OLED screen

Cons

  • Doesn't make the most of its large screen
  • Very pricey

Samsung Galaxy S10 – $799

A brilliant new phone from Samsung

If you're looking for the latest smartphone with all the new features, a curved screen, and the highest level of waterproof technology available, Samsung has you covered. Its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S10, is one of the best smartphones on the market today. And with specs like these, there is no wondering why.

  • 16 and 12 megapixel rear cameras, 10 megapixel front camera
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 5.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor
  • Runs Android 9 Pie with Samsung One UI

As for the S10's water-resistance, it can survive in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes, giving it IP68 certification, giving it the same rating as the iPhone XS and Samsung Note 9. It's not a huge improvement over its Samsung Galaxy S9 predecessor, though.

Samsung Galaxy S10 waterproof small

Pros

  • One of the best phones you can buy
  • Stunning camera quality
  • Bright, sharp AMOLED screen

Cons 

  • Might be too large for some
  • Samsung bloatware can be an irritant

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – $799

Unique stylus, great screen, but pretty large

The Note 9 is Samsung's most expensive phone. However, it's packed with high-end features including a big 6.4-inch AMOLED display, a powerful Snapdragon 845 processor and a serious amount of RAM. It even packs in a stylus for note-taking and camera controls.

It runs Android 8.1 with a Samsung skin overlaid so it's not as clean a version of Android as you get with Google's phones, but its still super easy to use. However, the Note 9 is a great phone if you're looking for a device to excel at work and play.

  • Dual 12Mp rear cameras, 8Mp front camera
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display
  • Snapdragon 845 processor
  • Runs Android 8.1

When it comes to water-resistance, the Note 9 has an IP68 rating and can survive a half-hour dip into 1.5 meters (almost 5 ft) of fresh water. It's not one to take scuba diving, but dropping it in a shallow pool shouldn't be the end of the world.

Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 small waterproof

Pros

  • Large, sharp screen is great for multi-tasking
  • Great cameras
  • Incredible battery life
  • Unique stylus

Cons 

  • Large size can make one-handed use tricky
  • Very pricey

iPhone XS Max – $1,099

Like the XS, but bigger. And not necessarily better

The largest and most expensive iPhone on sale, the XS Max has an enormous 6.5-inch screen and weighs more than any previous iPhone, as well.

However, it also has some brains to match its undoubted brawn. It uses Apple's powerful A12 Bionic processor, which gives it advanced facial recognition tech and makes it capable of running demanding augmented reality applications. It uses the same excellent cameras as the smaller iPhone XS, which means great daytime and decent low-light shots as well as the smart depth-sensing portrait mode tech.

  • Dual 12Mp rear cameras, 7Mp TrueDepth front camera
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 6.5-inch Super Retina AMOLED display
  • A12 Bionic processor with next-generation Neural Engine
  • Runs iOS 12

Like the XS, the XS Max also comes with IP68 waterproofing. This means that it can manage an immersion of 6.5 ft of stable water for up to 30 minutes. So, avoid dropping your phone in the sea, or a deep river, and you'll be fine.

Read our full iPhone XS Max review.

iphone xs max in hand

Pros

  • Sharp, colorful OLED screen
  • Excellent build quality
  • Very fast processor

Cons

  • Very large
  • Hugely expensive

iPhone XR – $750

Decent value for an iPhone, but not our favorite Apple phone

The XR is the cheapest new iPhone on sale at the moment, despite borrowing the nearly all-screen design and powerful processor from the more expensive XS.

So, where have the savings been made? Well, in the screen, mainly — the more advanced AMOLEDs from the XS and XS Max have been dropped for a cheaper, if larger, LCD panel. You also have to make do with one rear camera, losing the telephoto lens and keeping the ultra-wide lens from the XS, meaning it struggles a bit more with zoomed-in images. Beyond that, though, you get similarly impressive performance and a nice range of colors to choose from, including Coral, Blue and Yellow.

  • 12Mp rear camera, 7Mp TrueDepth front camera
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 6.1-inch Liquid Retina LCD display
  • A12 Bionic processor with next-generation Neural Engine
  • Runs iOS 12

The iPhone XR isn't quite as waterproof as its XS and XS Max cousins, either. You'll have to make do with an IP67 rating, meaning that you can dunk it in water up to 1 meter or 3 ft deep for 30 minutes without any adverse effects.

Read our full iPhone XR review.

iphone xr in hand small

Pros

  • Bright colors give it a fun look
  • Powerful processor
  • Decent value
  • Tight integration with Apple ecosystem

Cons 

  • LCD screen isn't as sharp as the OLED panels in the XS and XS Max
  • Large camera bump isn't great

Huawei Mate 20 Pro – $1,215

Crazy specs, crazy expensive, but can be difficult to get hold of

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is an absolute blockbuster from the Chinese company. It uses a 6.4-inch AMOLED display, with a super-high 3120×1440 resolution. It also has three rear cameras, uses the super-powerful Kirin 980 processor, developed by Huawei itself, and has an in-display fingerprint sensor.

While it is crazy expensive, the Mate 20 Pro can almost justify that price tag with its super advanced feature set and impressive hardware.

  • 40Mp, 20Mp and 8Mp rear cameras, 24Mp front camera
  • 6.4-inch AMOLED display
  • 6GB of RAM
  • Kirin 980 processor
  •  Runs Android 9 Pie with Huawei EMUI skin

With its enormous price tag, it's reassuring to know that the Mate 20 Pro won't be bricked if you drop it down the toilet. It's waterproof rated at IP68 in 2 meters (about 6-and-a-half feet) for 30 minutes.

huawei mate 20 pro medium

Pros

  • Hugely powerful
  • Enormous and sharp screen
  • Impressive cameras

Cons

  • You saw the price tag, right?
  • Might have availability issues in the US

Apple iPhone 8 – $599

Slightly dated looks, but price drops make it decent value

The iPhone 8, thanks to its big bezels and passé home button, is starting to feel like something of a relic. However, it's recent price drop to $599 makes it a surprisingly enticing proposition if you're looking for a cheap iPhone.

Its 4.7-inch LCD display isn't anything special, and looks particularly outdated next to some more modern competition, but it's still perfectly acceptable for playing games and watching TV shows. It uses the same processor as the iPhone X, though, so the performance isn't too outdated.

  • 12Mp rear camera, 7Mp front camera
  • 4.7-inch LCD display
  • 2GB of RAM
  • A11 Bionic processor
  • Runs iOS 12

When it comes to waterproofing, the iPhone 8 is lacking compared to its newer iPhone cousins, as well. It has to make do with IP67-rated protection. This is enough to see it survive submerged in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes, though, so you should be able to get away with dropping it down the toilet or a shallow pool.

iphone 8 small

Pros

  • Surprisingly affordable
  • Small size makes it easier to use one-handed

Cons 

  • Feels old-fashioned
  • Screen isn't the best

Motorola Moto X4 – $282

Not the best specs, but very good value

Every list of waterproof phones needs an affordable option, and the Moto X4 provides that and then some. At only $321, it's at least half as expensive as every other phone on this list. Sure, you're foregoing a few key features, like a stellar camera, but the Moto X4 is good enough, particularly for the price.

  • 12-megapixel (front)
  • 3GB of RAM
  • Snapdragon 630 processor
  • Runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat

Like the other phones on this list, the Moto X4 boasts IP67 certification, which means it's water resistant in 3 feet of stable water for 30 minutes, which at this point might seem a little underwhelming. But for the price, you're getting a whole lot of freedom along with it.

waterproof phones moto

Pros

  • Much cheaper than the other models on this list
  • Runs Android One – a near bone-stock version of Android
  • Available on Google's Project Fi

Cons

  • Camera isn't the best
  • Mid-range processor might make it feel a bit sluggish for some

Samsung Galaxy S10e – $749

Like the Samsung S10, but cheaper

The Samsung Galaxy S10e packs a lot of the same features as the more expensive S10, but costs $250 less. So what's the catch? Well, unless you're really into curved screen edges, there isn't one. Instead, the S10e is a good value option for anyone after groundbreaking tech, without breaking the bank.

  • 12 and 16 megapixel rear cameras, 10 megapixel front camera
  • 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED
  • 6 or 8GB of RAM
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
  • Runs Android 9 Pie with Samsung One UI

The S10e also has the same waterproof credentials as its more expensive S10 brother — it can survive a dunking of up to 5 feet for half an hour.

Samsung Galaxy S10e front small

Pros

  • All the latest features at a slightly lower price
  • Super-sharp Dynamic AMOLED display
  • Retro-tastic 3.5mm headphone jack

Cons

  • Punch hole front camera splits opinion
  • Samsung bloatware can be annoying

Learn More About Waterproof Ratings

While all these phones can take a dunking in water, even some for half an hour, none of them are strictly ‘waterproof.'

Instead, these phones are all ‘water-resistant' and to different degrees. In practice, this distinction means that while you can drop these phones into water, accidentally or otherwise, they're not completely impervious to water damage.

IP Ratings Explained

Phones, and other pieces of tech, are measured against water damage using IP ratings. All the phones above are rated for either IP67 or IP68 levels of protection. The first number in the IP rating denotes the durability of a device in the face of physical objects (sand, dirt etc.).

The second number refers to water immersion. A ‘1' would mean that your phone would only manage to stand up to a few raindrops. An 8, on the other hand, means that you should be protected to water immersion for 30 minutes at a manufacturer stated depth more than 3ft.

IP Water ratingProtected againstEffects
5Water jetsProtected from water spray from small nozzles — think showers and taps
6Powerful water jetsProtected from more powerful water jets such as hoses, but not for full immersion in water
7Immersion up to 3 ftProtected against submersion in water up to 3ft or 1 meter for 30 minutes
8Immersion more than 3 ftProtected against submersion in water for depths greater than 3ft or 1 meter for 30 minutes. Manufacturers have to state the depth the device is protected to.

Waterproof Phone Cases and Pouches

We'll stop you here – just don't. While waterproof phone cases can be pretty affordable, these seal-tight pouches aren't a smart choice if you're looking to take a phone underwater.

Most case and pouch manufacturers accept zero liability in case of liquid damage to your device (a clear sign of low confidence in their own product). They'll typically recommend you test out the pouch with a piece of tissue paper inside, first, to test for leakage.

The heartbreak of damaging your phone isn't worth it. Plus, the cheap plastic covers on these waterproof cases and and pouches often reduce the picture quality you can get from your phone's camera.

If you're about to board a boat for a day and just want a safe pouch for your phone, in case water splashes over the side, then these products are perfectly fine. If you're looking to jump off the deck, don't trust a waterproof pouch to protect your phone when you hit the water.

What to Look for in a Waterproof Phone

There's a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a waterproof phone beyond its IP rating. While most of these devices are safe to drop in the toilet or spill a glass of water on, they vary widely when it comes to their others specs.

Processor

water splashing smartphoneThe brains of the smartphone, a processor can make all the difference to your day-to-day use of the device. If you want to run a lot of apps, take a lot of pictures, and avoid glitches and freezes, make sure your processor can handle how much you use your phone.

Screen Size

Big or small, curved or straight, notch or not, deciding on the right screen is key. If you're looking for an immersive experience, the bigger the better. Operating a phone camera underwater isn't easy, for example, so a larger screen may make things simpler.

Operating System

The age old question: iOS versus Android. At this point in the game, the choice is yours. They both have their own set of pros and cons, and loyalty seems to be the driving force these days. Apple has lagged behind on waterproof phones so far, but now that everyone has a stake in the game, waterproof supremacy is up for grabs.

Camera Quality

The latest generation of smartphones really stepped up the photo quality, and with phone camera snaps cropping up everywhere from billboards to Instagram, the manufacturers know that this is a feature that matters. If you're keen on underwater photography, your main challenges are reduced light and being able to operate the camera itself. Low-light picture quality and image stabilisation have improved immensely in recent smartphones, fortunately.

Security

Waterproof phones are secure against water and sand, but you'll want to know your device is safe if you leave it by your sunbed unattended. Picking a phone with adequate security measures, like a fingerprint reader or Face ID, could prevent you from having your identity, money or data stolen. Both Apple and Google have strong phone tracking features now for finding a lost device or locking it remotely, too.

Why Aren't Waterproof Phones the Standard Yet?

With waterproof phones hitting the market, you'd think every mobile provider in the world would be jumping at the chance equip this game changing technology. It stands to reason that every one with a smartphone would be clambering to get their hands on one of these splash-, dunk-, and drop-proof devices. But, unfortunately, it's just not that simple.

Waterproofing is all about keeping water out, but completely sealing a smartphone that can still make calls, play music, and generally function is, as Scott Havard, teardown engineer for iFixit, explained to CNET, nearly impossible.

“With enough pressure, you can push water molecules into the device,” says Havard.

Simply put, there's no way to guarantee a smartphone will stay impregnable enough to keep water out. Waterproofing smartphones isn't straightforward, and when something is hard in the consumer tech world, that means it's expensive. And therein lies the problem.

Making all phones waterproof to IP68, or even IP67 standards would bump up the prices significantly. It would be great to go scuba diving with your iPhone. But, unless everyone is willing to starting paying a whole lot more money for smartphones, you're going to have to leave it on land.

 

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Tom Fogden is a writer for Tech.co with a range of experience in the world of tech publishing. Tom covers everything from cybersecurity, to social media and website builders when he's not reviewing the latest phones, gadgets, or occasionally even technology books.