Once upon a time, the best waterproof phones were ugly, rugged handsets. Today, they're sleek devices that can shrug off splashes and even be submerged without problems.
Owning a water-resistant phone means that you can snap pictures by the pool or use your handset in the rain without fear it'll be damaged. Look for an IP67 or IP68 rating — both mean the device can withstand being submerged in water for 30 minutes, at varying depths.
Today, all the latest flagships from Apple and Samsung are water resistant. In the case of other manufacturers, it's a bit of a mixed bag, where only certain models pass the test. Nevertheless, one of the options on our list of the best waterproof phones is bound to suit your needs. Read on for our top picks across all makes and models at every price.
- The best phones you can buy now
- Best phone battery life: Longest-lasting smartphones
- Under $400: The best cheap phones
What are the best waterproof phones?
First off, we should preface this list by saying there's no such thing as a perfectly waterproof phone. Every device on this list — and, indeed, every smartphone you can buy today that is considered water resistant — has some IP rating attached to it, that conveys a degree of ingress protection.
There are two numbers in IP code: the first deals with dust protection, whereas the second pertains to liquids. A first digit of "6" means that the phone is dust tight, and indeed any device you buy today will at least have a perfect score for warding off damage from dust.
However, the second digit is what we're chiefly concerned with, and in that column you'll look for at least a "7" to connote water resistance. Anything below that might mean the device can withstand water sprays and splashes, but not immersion.
The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max are our top selections for the best water-resistant phones on the market today, because both can survive up to 13 feet (4 meters) underwater for a maximum of 30 minutes. That's far and away the best among flagships, most of which are built to manage 5 feet (1.5 meters) at best — save for the cheaper iPhone 11, which can withstand 6.5 feet (2 meters).
The latest models from Samsung and Google — from the Galaxy S20 family to the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL — have been built to that 5-foot spec, which technically qualifies for IP68. (IP68 means submersion protection in more than 1 meter of water; IP67 is anything up to and including 1 meter.)
On the cheaper side, unfortunately most models from Motorola, Nokia and even OnePlus (to a certain extent) tend to skip true water resistance in favor of water repellence through the application of a nano-coating. That might save you in the event someone spills a drink on your phone, but it won't help your phone should it sink to the bottom of a pool. You won't find such devices on this list.
The best waterproof phones you can buy today
On the surface, you might not think there's anything particularly special about the water resistance of Apple's flagship iPhones. They're rated IP68, like so many other devices, and IP68 typically translates to just 5 feet of ingress protection.
However, Apple quietly improved both the iPhone 11 Pro and the iPhone 11 Pro Max's durability such that they can last in up to 13 feet (4 meters) of water for a half-hour. And that's far better than any other device on this list, including Apple's other iPhones. In fact, it's double the depth of the iPhone 11 and iPhone XS.
With the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, you'll also get a stunning OLED display, triple-lens camera with Night Mode, Apple's industry-leading A13 Bionic processor and great battery life in addition to those durability improvements.
For buyers looking to upgrade from older iPhones, these high-end flagships are worth the splurge. We're highlighting the 6.5-inch Max variant for its larger screen and battery, though anyone interested in the best small phones should know they'll get the same performance and build quality in the more compact 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro as well. And of course, it must be said that the iPhone 12 series is looming in the horizon, and those are sure to be water resistant, too.
The $699 iPhone 11 is rated IP68, just like its predecessor, the iPhone XR. But Apple improved the iPhone 11's durability by making it able to withstand 6.5 feet (2 meters) of water for 30 minutes, compared to the iPhone XR's 5-foot (1.5-meter) rating. That's why the iPhone 11 is one of the best waterproof phones around. Of course, it's unlikely you'd subject your iPhone to more than 6 feet of water for a half hour, but, hey — anything can happen.
The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are rated for up to 4 meters (13 feet) of water, but otherwise, the iPhone 11 delivers the same overall performance for hundreds of dollars less, thanks to its speedy A13 Bionic processor. The iPhone 11 also offers many of the same excellent photography features that its more expensive siblings do, despite having one less camera lens.
Read our full iPhone 11 review.
The OnePlus 8 Pro marks a few milestones for the Chinese phone maker. It's the first handset from the company to tout IP-rated water resistance and wireless charging. And while previous OnePlus devices advertised unofficial protection against the wet stuff (so as to not drive up their costs), the OnePlus 8 Pro goes a step further, affording buyers the same peace of mind they'd expect when purchasing a phone from Apple or Samsung.
Like the Galaxy S20 range, the OnePlus 8 Pro is built to last for 30 minutes in a maximum of 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water. But aside from its durability, we also appreciate its gorgeous 120Hz OLED screen, superfast wireless charging and gobs of performance, owing to the combination of a speedy Snapdragon 865 chipset and 12GB of superfast LPDDR5 RAM. In fact, we consider it the best Android phone on the market right now — and well worth a look for any prospective buyers who were entertaining one of Samsung's comparable-but-pricier Galaxy S20 models.
Read our full OnePlus 8 Pro review.
All of Samsung's latest flagship phones — the $999 Galaxy S20, $1,199 Galaxy S20 Plus and $1,399 Galaxy S20 Ultra — all sport IP68 water resistance at the 5-foot (1.5-meter) level. That's shy of the 6.5 feet (2 meters) offered by Apple's cheapest iPhone 11, though it should still be good enough for most people.
But of course the Galaxy S20 range has a number of other noteworthy features aide from its battery life, like its 5G connectivity, dazzling 120Hz screen and quad-lens camera system that is more versatile than the triple-lens system in the iPhone 11 Pro (even if it doesn't always capture better photos). The biggest knock against them is that they're very, very expensive — especially the S20 Plus and S20 Ultra — though at least you can live with the peace of mind that an untimely splash in the pool won't sink your investment.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus review.
The new second-generation iPhone SE packs the lightning-fast A13 Bionic processor from Apple's range-topping iPhones in the body of the iPhone 8. And because it repurposes the iPhone 8's design, it also benefits from the iPhone 8's water resistance. This phone is built to IP67 spec, meaning it can withstand submersion in 3.3 feet (1 meter) of water for a half hour.
That might not sound remarkably impressive compared to other devices on this list, that are a bit more protected against liquid. But what makes the iPhone SE's water resistance so special is the handset's bargain price. At $399, the iPhone SE is the cheapest IP-rated, water-resistant phone you can buy. It also supports wireless charging and sports an aluminum-and-glass design, making it extremely premium compared to similarly-priced Android phones. Even Google's Pixel 3a, another one of the best cheap phones, lacks both an IP rating and the ability to charge wirelessly.
Read our full iPhone SE 2020 review.
The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL don't improve upon the IP68 water resistance of their predecessors in a significant way, but they're still among the best waterproof phones because they can withstand a dunk in as much as 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water.
Both the 5.7-inch Pixel 4 and 6.3-inch Pixel 4 XL tout Google's first 90Hz OLED screens and dual-lens rear camera systems. The extra shooter on the back of each model is a 16-MP telephoto, which, coupled with Google's Super Res Zoom technology, can deliver up to 8x digital power that is almost as lossless as optical zoom. Both Pixels also include three-dimensional Face Unlock, similar to Apple's Face ID system, and support Motion Sense air gestures using Google's breakthrough Soli radar chip.
Unfortunately, neither phone lasted particularly long in our battery test (especially the smaller Pixel 4, which has a downsized battery compared to 2018's Pixel 3). Still, Google's range-topping handsets have so much going for them, they're certainly worth a look for Android users. Just be mindful that we're slowly nearing the Pixel 5's release this fall, and if history is any indication, the new model will preserve the water resistance of their predecessors. (However, Google may skip a larger XL version of its next flagship, based on the latest rumors.)
All of Samsung's Galaxy S10 flagships from 2019 sport IP68 water resistance, which is exactly what you get from the newer Galaxy S20 range. That means they'll stay protected under as much as 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water for up to 30 minutes. And Samsung managed this even though the 6.1-inch Galaxy S10, 6.4-inch Galaxy S10 Plus and 5.8-inch Galaxy S10e all have headphone jacks, which would typically impede water resistance.
That makes the S10 line an excellent choice for users who are still lamenting the omission of 3.5-millimeter ports from most high-end handsets — not to mention Samsung's own most recent flagships — but don't want to skimp on durability or performance. Buyers get a powerful Snapdragon 855 chipset with every model, at least 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, and cutting-edge features like an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor and triple-lens rear cameras on the S10 and S10 Plus.
Whether you spring for the 6.3-inch Galaxy Note 10 or the 6.8-inch Galaxy Note 10 Plus, you're getting one of the best waterproof phones that can withstand submersion in up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) of water for a maximum of 30 minutes. That's especially impressive when you consider the massive aperture left by the S Pen. Phablets are a rare breed these days, so the fact Samsung went to the extra trouble to make the Note 10 series as sturdy as its less pricey S10 brethren without sacrificing the stylus deserves some praise.
Under the hood, the Note 10 bears quite a few similarities to the S10 family, with its Snapdragon 855 processor, minimum of 6GB of RAM and Samsung's One UI front end running over top of Android 10. There's a hole-punch camera embedded within the top edge of the display, as well as either three or four lenses on the back (depending on the model), which comprise standard wide, ultrawide and telephoto optics.
Neither Note 10 is the finest mobile camera we've tested, but they're still among the best out there. Couple that with the Note 10's special features that really appeal to power users, like DeX desktop support, swift handwriting-to-text exporting and the ability to use the stylus as a remote shutter, and Samsung's phablets are as capable as they are durable. Just keep in mind that the Galaxy Note 20 is due to release next week, and Note 10 prices will likely plunge in response.
How to choose the best waterproof phone for you
If water resistance is a primary concern in your smartphone buying decision, you'll definitely want to pay attention to manufacturers' IP-rating claims.
In the mobile industry, an IP67 certification means your device will be protected against 3.3 feet (1 meter) of submersion for a period of 30 minutes. IP68 usually means you're getting at least 5 feet (1.5 meters), though some companies, like Apple, use IP68 to refer to as much as 13 feet (4 meters) of durability. If a phone boasts no IP rating, or has been treated with a water-repellent coating, you shouldn't trust it to survive if it's ever submerged. Unfortunately, most budget phones tend to make do with this limited form of protection, and even some flagships, like the Motorola Edge Plus and Xiaomi Mi 10 Pro 5G, are among them.
Also, it's important to point out that an IP rating does not mean water damage within the specified parameters is covered under your device's warranty. Unfortunately, while many phone makers are all too quick to assert water resistance, you won't find a single one that is confident enough in that claim to actually replace or repair one of their products, free of charge, in the event of a spill.
How we test smartphones
In order for a smartphone to make any one of our lists of the best phones, it needs to excel on several tests that we run on every handset. We perform some of these tests in our labs and some in the real world.
When it comes to performance, we rely on such synthetic benchmarks as Geekbench 5 and GFXBench to measure graphics performance. These tests allow us to compare performance across iPhones and Android devices. We also run a real-world video transcoding test on each phone using the Adobe Premiere Rush app and time the result.
To measure the quality of a phone's display, we perform lab tests to determine the brightness of the panel (in nits), as well as how colorful each screen is (DCI-P3 color gamut). In these cases, higher numbers are better. We also measure color accuracy of each panel with a Delta-E rating, where lower numbers are better and score of 0 is perfect.
One of the most important tests we run is the Tom's Guide battery test. We run a web surfing test over 5G or 4G at 150 nits of screen brightness until the battery gives out. In general, a phone that lasts 10 hours or more is good, and anything above 11 hours makes our list of the best phone battery life.
Last but not least, we take the best phones out in the field to take photos outdoors, indoors and at night in low light to see how they perform versus their closest competitors. We take shots of landscapes, food, portraits and more, and also allow you to be the judge with side-by-side comparisons in our reviews.