Six best water-resistant phones today

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.


Prepare to see a lot 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 realm of rugged phones only have increasingly crept into the mainstream smartphone population, starting with devices like the Motorola Droid Razr and Sony Xperia Z.

Companies like 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 this past February, we saw a treated handset submerged for an hour and a half, and counting.

I'm looking forward to the day we can all go to the beach, a pool party, 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.

Editors' note: This post was originally published August 6, 2013, and is updated frequently.

Sony's Xperia Z2 has everything you'd want in a superphone, splash-proofing included. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Sony Xperia Z2
Sleek style and water resistance have characterized Sony's Xperia Z line for some time. The excellent Z2 continues the tradition with a 5.2-inch HD display, sharp-shooting 20.7-megapixel camera, and 4K video capture. Unfortunately, it isn't available in every market; for instance, Sony hasn't announced it yet for the US. Read the full Sony Xperia Z2 review.

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 first 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 Samsung Galaxy S5 review.

Sony Xperia Z1 S
The Z1 S brings a Sony contender to T-Mobile. Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony Xperia Z1S
Sony has proven many times over that just because a device is waterproof, it doesn't have to look like it is. As I said before, not every country will get the Z2 flagship, or at least not yet. The Xperia Z1 S, for US carrier T-Mobile, is this country's best shot at a notable Sony phone-- with its all-glass front and rear panels, 20-megapixel camera, and sleek aluminum edges, the handset doesn't skimp on style. Read the full Xperia Z1S review.

Kyocera Hydro Elite
The Hydro Elite is just one of many splash-proof phones from Kyocera. Josh Miller/CNET
Kyocera Hydro Elite (Verizon Wireless)
With an entire line of Hydro handsets under its belt, Kyocera is no stranger to splash-proof phones. Its Hydro Elite, an affordable mid-range device for Verizon, is the best member of the family to date. Especially when considering its decent camera, wireless charging capabilities, and 4G LTE. Read the full Kyocera Hydro Elite review.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra GPE
The Xperia Z Ultra GPE offers stock Android 4.4 KitKat in a water resistant package. Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony Xperia Z Ultra Google Play Edition
For those who have $649 to spare and love a lot of screen with their smartphones, the Sony Xperia Z Ultra GPE should be up your alley. Rocking a massive 6.4-inch display and a Snapdragon 800 processor, it also runs vanilla Android 4.4. Since it's a Google-branded product, the Xperia Z Ultra will receive software updates the moment they roll out as well. Read the full Z Ultra review.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
Though not a super-rugged handset, you won't have to worry if the GS4 Active gets soaked. Josh Miller/CNET
Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
The Samsung Galaxy S5 may be the hot new phone in its roster, but don't discount last year's Active. It has a cool sporty style, an underwater mode for its 8-megapixel camera, and costs significantly less than the Galaxy S5 -- look for discounts at your carrier or retailer. Read the full Galaxy S4 Active 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


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