Saturday, August 15, 2015

Best waterproof Android phones for 2015 and the Ingress Protection Marking

The IP Code, International Protection Marking, IEC standard 60529, sometimes interpreted as Ingress Protection Marking, classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against intrusion (body parts such as hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures. It is published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

It helps to measurably understand the degree of water-proofing or water-resistance of devices.

P.S. If your phone fell in water or became wet in some other way, READ THIS FIRST to know how to fix a wet water-damaged phone

To prevent your non-waterproof phone getting wet while in the rain or near the swimming pool or while riding a bike, you could use this cover instead ( - Amazon Affiliate Link) It is quite cheap and allows you to use the phone including touchscreen safely.

Liquid ingress protection

The second digit of the IP Code indicates the level of protection that the enclosure provides against harmful ingress of water.
LevelProtected againstEffective againstDetails
0Not protected
1Dripping waterDripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect.Test duration: 10 minutes
Water equivalent to 1 mm rainfall per minute
2Dripping water when tilted up to 15°Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position.Test duration: 10 minutes
Water equivalent to 3 mm rainfall per minute
3Spraying waterWater falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect.Test duration: 5 minutes
Water volume: 0.7 litres per minute
Pressure: 80–100 kPa
4Splashing of waterWater splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.Test duration: 5 minutes
Water volume: 10 litres per minute
Pressure: 80–100 kPa
5Water jetsWater projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.Test duration: at least 3 minutes
Water volume: 12.5 litres per minute
Pressure: 30 kPa at distance of 3 m
6Powerful water jetsWater projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.Test duration: at least 3 minutes
Water volume: 100 litres per minute
Pressure: 100 kPa at distance of 3 m
6KPowerful water jets with increased pressureWater projected in powerful jets (6.3 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction, under elevated pressure, shall have no harmful effects.Test duration: at least 3 minutes
Water volume: 75 litres per minute
Pressure: 1000 kPa at distance of 3 m
7Immersion up to 1 mIngress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).Test duration: 30 minutes
Tested with the lowest point of the enclosure 1000 mm below the surface of the water, or the highest point 150 mm below the surface, whichever is deeper.
8Immersion beyond 1 mThe equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects.Test duration: continuous immersion in water
Depth specified by manufacturer, generally up to 3 m
9KPowerful high temperature water jetsProtected against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs.Test duration: -
Water volume: 14–16 litres per minute
Pressure: [8000–10000 kPa / 80–100 Bar] at distance of 0.1–0.15 cm
Water temperature: 80 °C

Let's get started with the phones :

Sony’s Xperia Z3

Sony started the ball rolling for high-end water resistant smartphones when it announced the Xperia Z back in 2013. Since then, almost all its top-of-the-range Xperia Android phones have been able to survive a dunking. The Xperia Z3 is the current flagship phone from Sony, and it scores highly on the ingress protection scale, attaining a rating of IP65/IP68. According to Sony, the reason it gets two ratings is because it complies with both the waterproofing standards. The Xperia Z3 Compact has the same IP rating, but comes with a smaller 4.6-inch, 720p screen.

Xperia Z3V and older Z phones

The Xperia Z3 is joined by the Xperia Z3V, a spin-off that’s exclusive to Verizon. It has the same specifications, just operates on a different network. There are several older Sony options out there, and if you’re after a water resistant bargain, the T-Mobile IP55/IP58 Xperia Z1S can still be purchased as a pre-owned phone through the network. It has the same ratings as the Xperia Z2, but a slightly smaller 5-inch, 1080p screen, and a Snapdragon 800 processor.

If you’re not worried about your new watertight phone being bang up to date, the Z1 and the Z1 Compact are also possibilities, while the Sony Xperia Z Ultra is the only big smartphone we know of with IP55 and IP58 ratings. You’ll struggle to find any of them new though.

Xperia M4 Aqua

Looking for a phone that looks normal, but still works if it gets a soaking? The Sony Xperia M4 Aqua could be for you. Like other Xperia phones, it has an IP65/IP68 rating, making it more effective at keeping dust and water than most other devices on our list. The 64-bit, octa-core processor, 5-inch 720p screen, and 13-megapixel camera makes it even more attractive. What’s more, it has Android 5.0 installed as standard, and the battery should be good for two days. It was announced in March, and the on-sale date is expected in the near future.

Xperia Z4

Sony has announced the Xperia Z4, but so far only for Japan. The 2015 flagship Android phone continues with tradition, and the body holds an IPX5/IPX8 rating, which puts it in the same category as the Xperia Z2, but not quite as impressive as the Z3. The phone isn’t released until later this year, when it should also see a wider release.

Samsung’s Galaxy S5

Samsung’s flagship phone for 2014, the Galaxy S5, scores a rating of IP67. That means it can be submerged up to 1 meter in depth for up to 30 minutes, and no dust particles are able to enter the phone at all. You will need to make sure that the plastic flap that covers the USB port is securely closed and, since you can open the back, double check that the cover is firmly in place.

The trouble is, Samsung’s newest flagship phone, the Galaxy S6, is terrified of the water. The Galaxy S5 is still available to buy new, and also as a pre-owned smartphone through networks such as AT&T, but it won’t be around for ever now it has been superseded.

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active and Sport

There are two variants to the flagship Galaxy S5, and both are rugged offerings. Again, these are older devices which haven’t been replaced for 2015, so while they’re still on sale, a replacement may arrive in the near future.

The S5 Active is still for sale through AT&T, and the S5 Sport can be purchased through Sprint. The S5 Active is chunkier and a lot more butch-looking, with plastic bumpers on the corners to ensure it can survive drops. The S5 Sport is rubberized, but not quite as angular. They both have big physical buttons to make it easier to operate them outdoors, and share the same IP67 rating as the standard S5. However, this duo also boast a MIL-spec 810G rating, which means they meet military standards and can handle extremes of temperature, humidity, and altitude.

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 3

This is Samsung’s first water resistant phone for 2015. The IP67 rating puts it slightly ahead of some older models, and it has a military-spec protective body. The screen is 4.5-inches in size, and the resolution is 480 x 800 pixels, and a quad-core chip with 1.5GB of RAM provides the power. The Galaxy Xcover 3 was announced in March, and is expected to go on sale before the end of spring.

HTC Desire Eye

Here’s one many will not expect to be water resistant. The Desire Eye has an IPX7 rating, which HTC says makes it dust proof, and resistant to water to a depth of one meter for 30 minutes. The 4G LTE Desire Eye has a 5.2-inch 1080p screen, a Snapdragon 801 processor, and a pair of 13-megapixel cameras – one on the rear, and the other above the screen. Bath time selfies have never been so safe.

Kyocera Brigadier

The Kyocera Brigadier is more what we expect a water resistant phone to look like, wrapped up in its military spec toughened body. The phone is IP68 compliant, and has a sapphire crystal shield over the screen, making it highly scratch resistant. The specs are solid enough, with a 4.5-inch 720p display, a Snapdragon 400 chip, and an 8-megapixel rear camera. 

Kyocera Hydro Life/Hydro Vibe

The latest water resistant, rugged release from Kyocera is the budget-friendly Hydro Life. It has an IP57 rating, so it’s good in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes and dust is nothing to worry about. It also has a MIL 810G rating which means it can handle falls and it can deal with extreme weather conditions. The specs aren’t bad for the price either, we’re talking a 4.5-inch IPS QHD screen, 5-megapixel main camera, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and a whopping 2,000mAh battery.

Kyocera Hydr0 Elite

The Hydro Elite can be purchased through Verizon. It scores IPX5 and IPX7, which means it’s capable of handling rain and jets of water, and it’s safe to dunk in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes. To clarify, if the letter X appears in any IP ratings, it means it’s not officially classified. However, if something is water resistant, a degree of dust protection will be built-in. The Hydro Elite runs Android 4.3 out of the box and has a pretty decent spec – including a 4.3-inch screen, an 8-megapixel camera, and 4G LTE 

Cat S50

Cat make a range of tough, water resistant phones, and the latest to be announced is the S50. The shock proof, military-spec body has an IP67 rating to keep out dust and resist water for 30 minutes. It’ll survive 1.2 meter drops without issue too. Otherwise, it has a standard, mid-range spec sheet with a 4.7-inch, 720p screen, an 8-megapixel camera, and a quad-core chip inside. The addition of 4G LTE connectivity’s welcome though.

Huawei Honor 3

The Honor 3 is another older, but potentially cheaper option for those wanting a budget water resistant phone, but with a standard, everyday design. It has an IP57 rating, so it’s good for surviving a 30 minute dip in shallow water, plus it’ll keep dust particles outside where they belong. The phone is specced similarly to the Kyocera Brigadier, with a 4.7-inch 720p screen and a quad-core chip, but the camera has 13 megapixels, and it’s all wrapped up in a more traditional looking body.

Water repellant phones

There are some phones which are labeled as water repellant, rather than water proof or water resistant. They don’t carry an IP rating, so won’t withstand the same treatment as those that do, but they should be better protected from rain or a nearby spill.

Motorola Droid Turbo, Moto G, and the Moto E.

Rewind a couple of years and Motorola was turning out water resistant phones like the Motorola Defy Plus, which was IP67 rated. There was also the Kevlar-coated Droid Razr Maxx with its water-repellent nanomaterial. No one paid much attention back then, so Motorola quietly dropped the water resistance as a selling point, but its current range of popular phones have a nano-material covering. They’re referred to as water repellant, which is better than nothing.

HTC One M8 has some subtle abilities

HTC doesn’t promote the One M8’s ability to withstand a little dampness, but according to a company spokesperson, it’s rated to IPX3 levels. This means the device is protected against spraying water, but only at certain angles, and a set pressure. It’ll do so for five minutes though. It’s not going to last if you drop it in the bath, but it’ll do fine in the rain.

It hasn’t been stated the new HTC One M9 has the same ability, but HTC will  release an IP68 rated case, called the Active Pro, for the phone in the near future.

Alternative solutions, if a new phone isn’t an option

If buying a waterproof phone isn’t practical, and you’d rather give your existing device some protection, there are options out there for anyone needing to make their own phone waterproof.

For those on a very strict budget, the simplest and cheapest way is to seal it inside a ziplock bag. It’s not going to look good, or function very well, and it’s certainly not going to be the safest approach, but it will work. Alternatively, there are a few plastic bags designed specifically for electronics, so opt for one of those if you don’t mind spending a little more. A good example is a bag from Dry Case, which comes with all the extras you’d want.

If you would prefer a case for your phone, there are various companies like Lifeproof offering fully waterproof cases, but they’re always pretty bulky. Finally, there is also a company called Liquipel that will apply a water resistant nano-coating to any smartphone or tablet. It should be enough to cope with an accidental splash or a very brief dunking, much like the Moto G.

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