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A guide to waterproof mobile phones

We live on a wet, rain-soaked island surrounded by sea. We have embraced mobile phones for communication. But electricity and water do not mix well, as anyone unfortunate enough to have dropped their phone in the drink will have found out to their cost!

So what do you need to know if you are looking to get a weather-resistant mobile phone that can stand a dunking or two?
There is quite a bit of confusion when it comes to waterproof phones. What does the term actually mean, how are these devices protected against the elements and how do you measure the degree of protection? This guide explains the basics of waterproof mobile phones.

What is a waterproof mobile phone?

Basically, the term waterproof phone is generally used to describe a phone that has been prepared by the manufacturer to tolerate a certain amount of water or liquid on the casing and preventing it from seeping inside and permanently damaging the sensitive electronics. Some mobile phones are better able to withstand the intrusion of water than others and there is a definite distinction between splash-proof, water-resistant and water-proof mobile phones. The measurement of the degree of protection is discussed below.

Why would I need a waterproof mobile phone?

There are many reasons why you might need a waterproof mobile phone. Many phones are ruined simply because they have accidently fallen into a sink, a toilet or even into a pint. It is estimated that approximately 20% of all damage to mobile phones is caused by liquid related accidents or activities.

Using an ordinary mobile phone outside in the rain can lead to water ingress and the loss of use of the phone. If you enjoy water-based sports such as fishing or sailing for example, then a waterproof mobile phone could be extremely handy. Or whilst on holiday near a swimming-pool, or the beach, a waterproofed mobile phone could help prevent a dunking becoming a disaster. Similarly, a waterproof phone would be great if you like to make your mobile phone chats whilst soaking in the bath. Should you often use your phone in harsh work conditions such as a building site for example where the phone can become covered in dust or mud, then it’s a simple matter to clean it by running it under a tap or shower.

How are they waterproofed?

There are various methods to make a mobile phone waterproof. Firstly, all obvious points of potential water ingress such as charging, ear-phone and USB connection points are protected by special plugs, usually rubber. The phone may be constructed of a special non-porous resistant casing, the seam sizes on the casing reduced and the seams themselves rubber filled or caulked to minimise ingress. The telephone keypad may be under a single membrane or be of a touchscreen design. The speaker and microphone can be plastic coated and the internal components may receive chemical coatings which repel water. The circuit board may be protected with safety cut-outs if the casing fails and water is detected internally.

How is the degree of water resistance measured?

The most used standard for mobile phone protection is IP certification. Under this standard, a phone is given an Ingress Protection (IP) rating using two numbers (e.g. IP67). The first number indicates protection to solid materials such as dust and the second relates to liquids. That second digit is a figure between 0 (meaning ‘no protection’) and 8 (‘protected against continuous submersion in water’).

 A good figure to start with for waterproof phones is at least a 4 (‘protected against water splashes from all directions’). We use the term ‘splash-proof’ for all our phones with an IP rating for liquids of 4. Phones with an IP rating for liquids of 5 and 6 we term as ‘water-resistant’ and only those phones with an IP rating for liquids of 7 or 8 do we class as ‘water-proof’.

What waterproof mobile phones are available?

A range of mobile phones with protection against water ingress exists, from splash-proof mobile phones such as the Nokia 3720 Classic, Sonim XP1 and ITTM Outlimits LX Dual-Sim through to water resistant models and onto fully waterproof mobile phones such as the CAT S40, RugGear RG600 and Defender.

 The full range of splash-proof, water resistant and waterproof mobile phones offered by Tuff Phones Ltd can be viewed here at www.tuffphones.co.uk/waterproof-mobile-phones.