A few years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find an elegant, premium phone that was also waterproof. Aside from Sony’s Xperia phones, most waterproof phones were clunky-looking with midtier specs.
These days, though, most high-end flagships come with some level of protection against water. In addition to the latest Apple iPhones, Samsung, Google and LG all have waterproof marquee handsets that satisfy the IP67 (or higher) standard.
With so many companies diving into this feature, waterproofing may soon become an industry standard, and gone forever are the days when mere water-resistant coatings and seals were exclusive to bulky, rugged phones. Instead, it may soon come down to how much more protected one device is than another. (Get a deeper dive here into IP ratings and what they mean for waterproof gadgets.)
If your phone can’t take a dip in a pool, companies such as P2i and HzO make coatings that go way beyond the military spec for 30 minutes and 3 feet of water — in fact, way back at MWC 2014, we saw a treated handset submerged for an hour and a half.
Until every phone is water-friendly, 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 handsets (or triple-wrapping them in plastic baggies). In the meantime, here are nine (well, technically more like 12) splash-sustaining phones that have impressed us.
Apple iPhone X
As a shakeup to Apple’s whole iPhone lineup, the tenth-anniversary iPhone X is a standout in many ways. It has a larger, 5.8-inch OLED display, superslim bezels and optical image stabilization on both its rear cameras. But all these fancy features come at a high price and with a starting price of $999 in the US, £999 in the UK and AU$1,579 in Australia, it’s the most expensive iPhone yet.
Google Pixel 2
The best thing about the Pixel 2 is its superb 12-megapixel camera, which can take greatbokeh-like portrait shots using just one lens. However, the 5-inch phone also has a speedy Snapdragon 835 processor, timely Android updates from Google and Google Lens, and a software feature that lets you immediately look up information about the objects around you. The Pixel 2 also has a bigger brother, the Pixel 2 XL. Though we like its larger 6-inch display, some concerns have been raised about burn-in with its screen. For now, however, it’s safe to go with the Pixel 2.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
If you want a premium phone that can endure more than just water, consider the S8 Active. A rugged version of the S8 (see below), this phone is has a metal body, is shock-resistant and has a higher-capacity 4,000mAh battery (compared with the S8’s 3,000mAh). Unfortunately, it’s only available in the US with the carrier AT&T for now, at about $850.
With its generous 6-inch screen, thin bezels and two rear cameras (including a wide-angle lens), the V30 is LG’s most promising phone this season. In addition to hardware, it has a few software tricks up its sleeves too, like a handful of new video-recording tools, facial and voice recognition and a shortcut Floating Bar tab for your favorite apps and contacts.
Motorola Moto X4
Not every water-resistant phone costs an arm and a leg. In addition to packing two rear cameras, NFC and expandable memory, the Moto X4 only costs $400, £349 or AU$699. Motorola’s Moto X4 (as opposed to Google and Amazon’s — both of which offer the phone as well) features lots of useful software tools too, such as multiple digital assistants including Amazon Alexa.
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
As anticipated updates to last year’s pair of Apple flagships, the iPhone 8 (and larger 8 Plus) have a few upgrades you might want to consider. They have a new, steel-reinforced glass backing, better cameras with a new image signal processor and sensors and wireless charging. Sure, they’re not as flashy as the aforementioned iPhone X, but they are cheaper, starting at $699, £699 and AU$1,079 for the iPhone 8 and $799, £799 and AU$1,229 for the iPhone 8 Plus.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (and S8 and S8 Plus)
Though it’s pricey, the Galaxy Note 8 tops Samsung’s already excellent Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus with dual cameras and a boatload of stylus tricks. It’s the most feature-rich Android phone you can buy and is the ultimate Android phone for now. But if you’re not into its S Pen or large screen, consider the previously mentioned phones in this year’s Galaxy line. In addition to being pool-friendly like the Note 8, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus feature Samsung’s new digital assistant Bixby, the latest Snapdragon 835 chipset from Qualcomm and facial unlocking.
Some may be bummed that the G6’s waterproofing comes hand in hand with a nonremovable battery. But LG hopes that its slight bump in capacity (to 3,300mAh) and wireless charging feature (for US customers) will offset any disadvantages. Plus, it has two rear cameras, Google Assistant and a tall 5.7-inch display.
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Though the XZ Premium has a familiar design, it’s still an elegant-looking phone. It features a brilliant 4K display, a 19-megapixel camera with smooth, slow-motion video capture and a supercharged Snapdragon 835 processor. And because it satisfies IP68 standards, you can splash around the pool with it, and leave it submerged in up to 5 feet (or about 1.5 meters) of water for 30 minutes.