Six top-notch water-resistant phones available now

Splash-proofing may not be at the top of your list when picking a new phone, but with these phones, it's one less thing to worry about.

Play

Editors' note: This post was originally published August 6, 2013, and is updated whenever swim-friendly smartphones surface.

Prepare to see many more water-resistant and even waterproof phones coming out in the near future. Thanks to advances in this field, water-resistant coatings and seals that were once the exclusive realm of bulky rugged phones have increasingly crept into the mainstream smartphone population, starting with skinny, high-end devices such as the Motorola Droid Razr and Sony Xperia Z.

Companies such as P21 and HzO are working on coatings that go way beyond the military spec for 30 minutes and 3 feet of water -- in fact, at Mobile World Congress 2014, we saw a treated handset submerged for an hour and a half.

We're looking forward to the day we can all go to the beach, pool parties, rafting trips and water parks without fearing for our phones (or triple-wrapping them in plastic baggies). In the meantime, here are six splash-sustaining smartphones that have impressed us.


The Xperia Z3 is one of the most elegantly designed water-resistant phones we've seen. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Sony Xperia Z3

Widely available in multiple countries and beautifully designed, the Xperia Z3 is a marquee handset from Sony that can play PlayStation 4 games remotely. And, like its predecessors, the Z3 doesn't mind going for a swim. It can survive 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) underwater, and its dedicated shutter button means you can take underwater pics with its 20.7-megapixel camera. Its mini version, the Xperia Z3 Compact, is also water-resistant. Read the full review.


samsung-galaxy-s5-7103-026.jpg
The Galaxy S5 seals internals with a combination of gaskets and coatings. Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S5

In making its flagship smartphone for 2014 waterproof, Samsung turned to the Galaxy S4 Active for inspiration. Samsung applied roughly the same rubbery gaskets to help stop up the charging slot and to protect the battery and electronics. Waterproof coating inside the headset jack protects that element from dips. Read the full review.


With its 13-megapixel front-facing camera, you can also take sharp selfies with the Desire Eye. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

HTC Desire Eye

As the first waterproof HTC smartphone, you won't have to fear any accidental spills and splashes around the Desire Eye. But if that happens, be sure to snap a selfie -- the handset also made waves during its debut when HTC announced that the device has a 13-megapixel front-facing shooter. Read the full review.


If you want a Galaxy S5 with a little more muscle, consider the S5 Active. Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

With its IP67 rating that makes it shock, dust and waterproof, the S5 Sport is essentially the same as its flagship counterpart above. Samsung added a few tweaks, however. Principally, it removed the fingerprint scanner, and added a convenient active key that also works as a camera shutter. It also has physical softkey buttons and a rubberized case. Read the full review.


Beaches, rainstorms and fountains are fine environments for the Brigadier. Josh Miller/CNET

Kyocera Brigadier

As the first mass-market and affordable handset to sport a Kyocera Sapphire Shield crystal display, the Brigadier is one tough cookie. Second only to diamonds, sapphire crystals (which are grown synthetically in labs) are incredibly durable. As an added bonus, the device can survive in up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) of water, which is deeper than the usual 3 feet standard we usually see. The Brigadier is only on sale in the US though. Read the full review.


What the XP7 lacks in looks, it makes up for with indestructibility. Nate Ralph/CNET

Sonim XP7

The XP7 may not be the sleekest smartphone on the market, but it wasn't designed to be. Built for extreme field conditions, you can take the device nearly anywhere and it'll escape unscathed. According to Sonim, users can operate its 4-inch display with wet or dirty industrial gloves, and with its IP68 rating, it can survive for 30 minutes in one of the deepest underwater conditions we've heard -- 6.5 feet (2 meters) to be exact. The Sonim XP7 is not available in the UK or Australia. Read the full review.

About the author

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.

Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices. See full bio

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

CNET's Christmas Gift Guide

Under pressure? These will deliver on time

With plenty of top-notch retailers offering digital gifts, you still have time to salvage your gift-giving reputation.