If you have a “waterproof” phone, you probably assume that you can use your phone in the sea, or a pool, without worrying about damage. Most of the big manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung, have at least one device in their range that is marketed as being “waterproof” and therefore safe to use in water.

But if you look at the details closely, you might find that your waterproof phone is not actually waterproof at all, and it won’t be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty if it gets wet.

How Waterproofing Works on Mobiles

The degree of water resistance depends on the IP rating that the phone has. In fact, many electronic devices have different ratings to show the level of waterproofing and dustproofing that they offer.

When shopping for a waterproof phone, you’ve probably seen ratings like IP67. The first number after IP refers to the dust resistance that the device has (up to a maximum of 6). The second number grades its resistance to water (up to a maximum of 9).

So a phone rated IP67 is essentially sealed against dust. But it only scores 7 out of 9 for water ingress. So if this phone is marketed as being “waterproof”, it’s actually water resistant.

That means that the phone can only really cope with splashes of water; for example, if it’s raining or snowing while you take a call. You certainly wouldn’t want to spray it with a pressure washer.

And if it gets damaged, it’s you that will fork out for a new one -- unless you have mobile phone insurance.

What Can You Do With a Waterproof Phone?

Contrary to what you might assume, it would definitely not be safe to take a “waterproof” phone into a swimming pool for a long soak. You’ll usually only be able to use it in the water for a small amount of time, and to a fairly shallow depth, without causing damage.

So paddling with your phone might be OK if it’s IP68 rated, since the odd splash may not damage it. But if you drop it into the deep end of a pool, or accidentally wash it in the washing machine, it may break.

There are also risks from the other substances in water, most notably salt, detergent, and chlorine.

Warranties on Waterproof Phones

Don’t expect your manufacturer to guarantee water resistance, even if the adverts for your phone showed people swimming and showering with their devices.

When you look at the fine print, waterproof and non-waterproof phones have exactly the same manufacturer warranties. They aren’t covered for water damage, even if they’re sold on the pretense of being water resistant.

Every phone has a tiny white dot inside the casing. If the internal components get wet, this dot will turn pink; a tell-tale sign that your phone has been dunked in water. If your indicator is pink, your manufacturer won’t help you.

The advice here is simple: smartphone users should always take out insurance to protect against water damage. That includes people who have so-called “waterproof” or “water-resistant” phones.

We strongly recommend that all smartphone users purchase a liquid damage insurance. And with prices starting at just £1.49 a month, you won’t find a better deal. Click here to find out more about our high cover mobile phone insurance.

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