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Poll: Do we really need waterproof phones?

Xperia Z1s
© Sony

Sony has just teased devices that can withstand two meters of continual submersion in the lead up to IFA 2014. Sony's Xperia Z range has always been dustproof and water-tight for up to 30 minutes in one meter of fresh water, and we've seen more phones following suit this year. But seriously, just how waterproof do we need our phones?

Xperia Z1s
Waterproofness is great, but is it worth paying extra for? © Sony

Making a smartphone dustproof makes sense. Especially if you tend to live somewhere where there are dust storms or you drive on dirt roads a lot. But even if you don't, dust is an everyday part of life, and if dust gets into your phone and breaks it then you have a serious problem. There's not much you can about the slow ingress of dirt particles. But other than protecting against a bit of a rain shower, how essential is waterproofing to a phone? 

Sony Waterproof Ad
Is this just getting ridiculous? Or should all phones be fully waterpoof? © Sony

Having a waterproof smartphone sounds lovely, but what do you actually use it for? Other than being a bit less stressed at a party when you're standing by the edge of a pool I can't really see many other benefits. Sure, you can play games in the shower, put your phone through the washing machine or make calls in the surf, but is this worth paying extra for and having ungainly flaps over every port? Or is it just an over-engineered solution for occasional drops into the sink? You tell me.

Now, I must point out that most IP-rated devices are not protected against chlorine, salt water or dishwashing liquid. Touchscreens also do not work underwater (this is why Sony has a dedicated camera shutter button). The examples I've used in this text were specifically selected to be obvious, but non-supported, examples of the real-life failings of waterproofing. So I ask again, just how waterproof do we need our phones to be?

Do we really need phones to be waterproof?
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Kris Carlon

Kris Carlon
Senior Editor

Kris is a former AndroidPIT Editor who came to the team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.

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  • 4
    Daniel Blackwhitee Oct 16, 2016 Link to comment

    I just wanted to mention, that I am no hater, but it is a nightmare, that iSheeps are now equipped with waterproofness. They do not deserve that at all, because the only reason, why they buy their iPhones is, that they are overhyped, have a slim design, an Apple-logo and are trendy. They do not buy them for any practical feature or capabilities, so they do not deserve OIS-camera, 3 GB RAM or 256 GB of internal storage at all. They also never deserved 1080p@120fps video recording.
    And now, the 7+ users have something, which is equivalent to optical zoom.
    iPhone users are people, who film vertical, who use lossy digital zoom, and they rotate their camera during video recording, and do not even hold steady. So they are the people, who deserve this technology at least in their devices.
    I always felt so superior over iSheeps, because my devices were equipped in a much richer way. I always enjoyed, how iSheeps were forced to put their phones away, when it started to rain, and I could show off, that my phone was waterproof. But in two years, there will be many iSheeps with iPhone seven's, which is an absolute disaster for power-users, who enjoyed the feeling of superiority.

  • 2
    Francois Chamberland Sep 6, 2014 Link to comment

    And the answer is a very loud NO.

  • Bojan M. 23
    Bojan M. Sep 3, 2014 Link to comment

    Well, who wouldn't want something like that? It's not an absolutely necessary feature, but it's a welcomed one. I have a waterproof phone, and while I haven't had the situation that would make use of such feature yet, I'm feeling much relieved because I don't have to worry about getting the phone wet anymore. Warranty does not apply when your phone is wet. Moisture is a phone killer (as it stands for any electronics). So, I ask again, do we really think making our phones waterproof is unnecessary?

    About some of the points mentioned...

    As it stands now, only some premium phones are waterproof. They are not expensive because they are made waterproof, but because they are premium devices. It's not like they cost you your kidney just because of this.

    Not every port needs to be covered with flaps. And some people are ok with flaps. I, for example, don't like holes all around my phone and prefer clean and closed design.

    The situations mentioned here, in which waterproofing supposedly doesn't work, are actually a bad argument. It's not that waterproofing doesn't work in those situations, but the phones in question were not designed specifically for them (but for clean water) and certifications are meant only for regular water. But, I can tell you for a fact that even in those situations your waterproof phone will be waterproof, even for a prolonged time. The phone must be cleaned afterwards because some of the chemicals (salt, chlorine, detergent) may be corrosive for the rubber (or other materials) responsible for waterproofing your phone.

    The point is, if your phone is waterproof and you drop it in any water based liquid, it will survive, fully functional at that, even if it spends some time there. But, if it's not waterproof and you drop it there, you may try to save it with some rice or something, but the probability is much higher that you will not (even if it powers up again, not all functions may work or it may be dead at any moment later; also, no warranty anymore).

  • 4
    Kenn Sanchez Sep 2, 2014 Link to comment

    right now I have a water resistant phone which is my moto G on my boost mobile carrier. I have never had a water resistant phone yet a waterproof phone. I think they would be handy just in case you may find yourself around water and you oops dropped your phone. I think it will be just more for convenience them for anything else. Just saying.

  • Bob visser 14
    Bob visser Sep 2, 2014 Link to comment

    I would love to have a waterproof phone. Every year when I go on holiday with my motorcycle I keep my phone in a plastic bag while I am driving. And sometimes when I am driving my bicycle I worry about my phone when it rains

  • 7
    Deactivated Account Sep 2, 2014 Link to comment

    Do we need waterproof phones? Yes, why not?! You pay a lot of money for these devices, so moisture resistant at least can only be a good thing. Which is why my last two devices have been Motorola's.

  • Kris Carlon 35
    Kris Carlon Sep 2, 2014 Link to comment

    I can appreciate that cyclists in the UK, Pacific North-West or other rainy areas probably have a different level of ''necessity'' for waterproofing than others. I think if it can be rolled into the ''normal'' price of a phone then sure, why not have it, but I certainly don't want to pay extra for it.

  • flooney 37
    flooney Sep 2, 2014 Link to comment

    I do not go swimming with my smartphone. So it's completely useless to me. But if anybody thinks it's necessary to him, then get your xperia z xy series and go swimming :-)

  • 14
    Amat Mulisha Sep 2, 2014 Link to comment

    I dont know but for me, its important to someone that works near water or for bikers also. smartphone with this function a little bit expensive than the other version

  • 6
    Timothy Cremeans Sep 2, 2014 Link to comment

    Yes, I do agree that we really need these smartphones because it helps not worry about water getting in our phones as well as we like taking pictures underwater as we want to capture a different kind of beauty.

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