Our smartphones have long had an arch nemesis in water, with it long been considered a bane for any electronic gadget unfortunate enough to get splashed or submerged. In fact, water can often cause irreparable damage which proves not just inconvenient, but also incredibly expensive when you have to splash the cash (no pun intended) on a brand new handset.

So in an effort to help us tackle water damaged smartphones, manufacturers have been quick to develop devices which can withstand spills, splashes, and even a dip in the pool. But what has made waterproof smartphones such a necessity for mobile users? And how do we define waterproof smartphones?

Waterproof or water resistant?

Technically, no mainstream smartphone is completely waterproof; instead they are all ‘water resistant’. This is rated on a fairly basic scale which puts devices into a simple number based system, ranking dust and water protection.

Each rating starts with a two letter combination (IP) which stands for Ingress Protection, and is followed by two digits that determine the protection level of the device against intrusion and moisture.

Intrusion levels are ranked from 0-6, with 0 meaning the minimal amount of protection, and 6 being the most. Typically, most protective smartphones offer 4 and above. 4 provides protection from solid bodies larger than 1mm, whilst 5 provides protection from dust that can harm equipment. 6 means that the device is completely dust proof.

Waterproof rating

IP68 is currently the highest rating that can be given to a smartphone, meaning that it’s dustproof and can stand prolonged immersion underwater…

Moisture levels work on a larger scale between 0-8, once again with 0 meaning the least and 8 proving the most protective from water. 0 means no protection whatsoever, whilst 1 through 6 protect from varying levels of moisture. 7 offers protection from temporary immersion, like dipping, whilst 8 protects against prolonged immersion under pressure, which is effectively what most smartphone users need.

However, it’s worth noting that even if you have a IP68 smartphone, which is the best you can get, each phone will have different guidelines. For example, many will not allow for saltwater submersion, whilst others will be able to go deeper than other phones for longer periods of time. All of these sorts of details can be discovered by researching each specific device.

What are the best waterproof smartphones?

With everyone seemingly looking to protect their devices from a watery grave, smartphone manufacturers have been battling it out to build the best waterproof smartphone. But what are some of the best nominees?

Sony Xperia XZ

Arguably the most famous line of waterproof smartphones, the Sony Xperia line-up has long provided protection from water. The Sony Xperia XZ is the latest of the bunch to do so, and provides a flagship spec sheet as well.

Offering an IP68 rating that ensures protection to a metre’s depth for half an hour, the Xperia Z3+ also looks amazing, with a Gorilla Glass panel design taking its place on the Japanese device. Its metallic frame is yet more proof of the phone’s good looking and convenient nature.

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung’s flagship smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S8 follows on from the Galaxy S7 by continuing to offer an IP68 water and dust resistant rating..

With that dazzling Infinity Display on board, the last thing you'd want is a water damaged phone when you're trying to watch your favourite boxset on its stunning screen.

iPhone 7

The first waterproof device to make its way off the iPhone conveyor belt, the iPhone 7 is more than capable of surviving a quick dip, with its IP67 rating.

iPhone users has previously been at the mercy of rain and spillages, but with Apple joing the water restant revolution, iPhone fans can also now enjoy this added protection.

It’s worth noting, however, that none of these three smartphones can take more than 30 minutes underwater, or risk life under one metre’s depth. So, although these are the best mainstream phones, you may be better off looking elsewhere if you’re in need of something more heavy duty.

“Technically, no mainstream smartphone is completely waterproof; instead they are all water resistant”.

How do they waterproof our phones?

Waterproofing obviously has a huge effect on the design of a smartphone, it often dictates which materials can be used, the shape of the smartphone and even some of the features that make the cut. Normally, manufacturers go through this process during design phases, ensuring that materials like glass and plastic are favoured over less protective shells.

However, there is a way to ensure that even your metal-based smartphones have some kind of moisture protection without splashing out on an expensive case.

Nano coating is the latest waterproof trend for smartphone users across the globe, which can reportedly protect smartphones from ‘hours of submersion’. It works by having a company place your phone in a vacuumed container that coats your phone in a layer of material that actively repels liquids.

If you then pour liquid on your handset, the coating will make the water simply slide off the phone rather than making its way into the nooks and crannies of the phone – where the majority of water damage is done. However, the technology isn’t quite equipped to deal with lasting submersion, so if you’re planning on going for a swim then you’d be better off leaving your phone high and dry.

Smartphone users can nano coat their devices through a number of companies, costing around £40. So if you don’t happen to have a waterproof smartphone, you can at least add some kind of protection for less than a night out on the town.

Future of waterproof smartphones

With waterproof smartphones now commonplace, the future certainly looks bright for our once-vulnerable mobile devices. However, the future relies heavily on finding an effective way to protect our metal based devices, thanks to the ever growing love of the material.

The improvement of nano coating processes should also be considered as a potential way to fully waterproof our phones as well, but until it’s proven as a full proof method to guarantee protection, it can’t be relied upon too much.

Of course, as technology continues to grow and develop, it shouldn’t be too long until we’re finally getting rid of those clunky waterproof cases which some of us are currently forcing around our smartphones…