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How waterproof is your phone? Find out – and what to do if you dunk it

Think of all the data your smartphone holds. Your contact list, photos, videos, personal notes, bookmarks, app files and so much more. Your phone might hold important business documents or personal memories you could never get back if they were lost.

Backing up your phone in case of damage or loss is a given, but what if you neglected to do this? All might not be lost. Tap or click here for tips on retrieving your data from a broken phone.

Dropping your phone in the water used to be akin to an automatic death sentence, but phones are a lot tougher nowadays. They can withstand more shock and are more resistant to water, if not completely immune to a splash or quick dunk. How do you know just how much water your phone can take? Don’t worry, you won’t need to test the waters, so to speak. There’s an easier way.

How tough is your smartphone?

Fun fact: Your smartphone has a toughness rating, known as an International Protection Rating or Ingress Protection Rating. This is written as two digits and a letter, such as IP68. The “6” in this example indicates that the device is dust tight, which means no solid foreign objects can get inside.

The second digit, “8” means the phone can be submerged in water beyond one meter for a certain amount of time — usually half an hour. Specifics for each model are provided by phone manufacturers.

You can check your phone’s IP rating in the user manual. If you don’t have it, try using this free site to find it online. You can also search for your phone’s model number and “ip rating” to find on the manufacturer or carrier’s website. Here are some examples:

  • The iPhone 7, 8, X, XR and second-generation SE have an IP67 rating. The XS, 11, 11 Pro, 12, 12 Pro and Mini have an IP68 rating.
  • The majority of Samsung Galaxy and Note series of phones are rated at IP68 or higher starting with the S6 Active and Note 8.
  • The Google Pixel 2 has an IP67 rating and the Pixel 3 through the newest Pixel 5 are rated IP68.
  • The OnePlus 8 Pro and later models have an IP68 rating.

Note: These ratings mean your phone is water-resistant, not waterproof. What’s the difference? They can stand up to immersion for a set period of time, but not indefinitely. Saltwater and chlorinated water can damage your phone’s seals and get in there regardless of its rating, so don’t go swimming with your phone just because it has a good IP score. Time and weather can also affect your phone’s seals.

Deciding between Apple and Android? Tap or click here to check out our comparison between the flagship iPhone 12 and Galaxy S21.

There’s an app for that

If you have an Android phone, you can test its water resistance with the Water Resistance Tester app. This is pretty cool tech. It checks the seals to see if your phone is maintaining its factory IP rating using the phone’s internal barometer. This component measures atmospheric pressure. If your phone lacks a barometer, the app won’t work.

Apple iPhone users are out of luck, as there’s no available app to test water resistance.

What if your phone gets wet?

If your phone is rated to withstand a little water and gets splashed, simply wipe the liquid off. You should be good to go. You can always power down immediately to be safe.

If your phone ends up completely submerged in water, power it down as fast as you can. Take off the cover and remove the battery, if possible. Locate any inputs, such as the charging port, and tap the phone to get the liquid to drip out. Leave the phone to dry in a cool area.

You can place the phone in front of a fan, but don’t expose your phone to any heat, as this will damage it. Don’t try to charge it until at least a few hours have passed.

You may have heard of the rice trick, where you put your phone in a bowl of rice to dry it out. It turns out that this is not such a great idea, as this can introduce dust and other debris into the phone and it can actually take longer than it would to simply leave your phone out to dry. Silica gel packets are a better option. You can find a huge pack for just a few bucks on Amazon — or check your old shoe boxes.

Keep reading

What to do (and not do) if you get your Android phone wet

5 signs your smartphone is about to bite the dust

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