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How to Waterproof Your Phone

Water immersion is one of the fastest ways to turn your expensive smartphone into a brick. Even small amounts of water can cause serious damage if liquid seeps through the phone’s ports and fries internal electronics. Learning how to waterproof your smartphone helps prevent such damage, and there are plenty of products available to help keep your smartphone safe in wet conditions. There’s also plenty of DIY waterproof phone case lifehacks online, although their efficiency is often questionable. Here are a few suggestions to keep your phone as dry as possible.

Use a Waterproof Phone Case

Hard waterproof phone cases are just that, watertight cases for your phone. They cost $40 or up, and most are rated to be waterproof to a specific depth for specific amounts of time. The majority of waterproof phone cases are good for depths of six to ten feet for one or two hours, which is more than sufficient for most people. 

Hard waterproof cases let you access the phone’s buttons, controls, and phone ports, and are often shockproof as well as waterproof for added protection against damage. They are, however, bulky, and may muffle your voice or recorded sounds. In high temperatures, hard cases also increase the risk your phone will overheat.  Over time, hard waterproof cases can wear out or crack, and care must be taken when closing the case to ensure a watertight seal.

If you want the ultimate answer to “how can I make my iPhone waterproof” you can shell out $200 or more for waterproof cases capable of withstanding depths of up to 130 feet. Such cases are used by scuba divers who want to use their phones as cameras, and while effective, are generally too bulky for everyday use. 

Use a Waterproof Pouch or Dry Bag

Waterproof pouches and dry bags offer a budget-friendly alternative to hard waterproof cases. 

Made of soft materials, these products range in price from $7.00 to $20.00 and provide protection against water, snow, dust, sand, and dirt. 

Bear in mind that waterproof phone pouches are not rated to the same depths as hard waterproof cases: most pouches are only waterproof to about three feet. While this allows you to use the phone to take photos while swimming or snorkeling, the clear plastic of the pouch can interfere with image quality. 

The major advantage of a waterproof pouch or dry bag is the affordable cost. A waterproof pouch or dry bag can offer almost the same level of waterproofness as a hard waterproof case but at a fraction of the cost. The downside is that dry bags or waterproof pouches are not as durable as hard cases and can make it more difficult to use your phone. Pouches can fail, especially after long-term use, and may trap condensation, which can cause the very water damage you’re trying to avoid. To reduce the risk of condensation, remove as much air from a dry bag as possible before sealing it. 

Use DIY Nano Coating (Water-Resistant Only)

If you want to avoid the bulky feel of a waterproof phone case, pouch, or dry bag, consider a water-resistant nano coating. A nano coating is a hydrophobic liquid you spray or rub onto your phone. Once cured, the thin, transparent coating repels water.

It’s important to note that a nano coating is water-resistant, not waterproof, and is better suited to protection against occasional exposure to rain or spilled liquids than total submersion. You can apply nano coatings by yourself or through a third party, which ensures more complete protection. At $15.00 to $30.00 the price is budget-friendly. The coating won’t affect your phone use but can reduce your screen brightness somewhat. Nano coatings do wear out over time and need to be replaced every six months to a year. 

Use a Waterproof Phone Skin

If you only need temporary water protection, consider a waterproof phone case: a thin film you apply to the phone.  Ranging in price from $7.00 to $30.00, waterproof skins completely encase your phone to protect against splashes, spilled drinks, and rain. Read the product description of phone skins carefully: while some claim to be waterproof, others are only water-resistant. Even the best waterproof skins are unlikely to provide the same protection as hard waterproof cases or dry bags. 

Waterproof phone skins have some serious limitations. First, they only last for one or two uses. Secondly, the skin completely encloses your phone, so you cannot access its ports. If you want to use a waterproof phone skin, be sure the phone is fully charged first. They’re by no means an ideal solution but can work as a stopgap measure when you really need water protection. Also, be sure to apply the skin correctly, or water will still be able to reach your phone. 

DIY Waterproof Phone Case: Will a Plastic Bag Protect Your Phone From Water?

Sometimes you need a quick fix to keep your phone safe. Maybe you’re out on the town when the weather turns ugly. Maybe you’re on vacation, heading to the beach, but forgot your dry bag. In such cases, you may be forgiven for wondering if a plastic bag will protect your phone from water. 

The answer is yes, up to a point. The best type of plastic bag for a DIY waterproof case is a heavy-duty Ziploc freezer bag. Properly sealed, a freezer bag will protect your phone from spills, splashes, and maybe even accidental submersion. We wouldn’t recommend going swimming with one, however. 

When using a freezer bag as a DIY waterproof phone case, remember the following tips:

  • Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible (if you have a straw, seal the bag around the straw, suck out any remaining air, and quickly seal the bag as you remove the straw). 
  • Seal the bag completely, and double-check the seal to be sure. 
  • Handle your DIY waterproof case carefully to keep it sealed. 
  • If you’re out boating or in other conditions where the phone may fall into water, add a tennis ball to the bag to make it more buoyant. 

Other quick DIY waterproof phone case life hacks include wrapping the phone in cling wrap, which we can’t recommend due to the risk of overheating. Storing your phone in a dry thermos provides some protection at the expense, of course, of being unable to actually use the phone. Grocery bags don’t make great DIY waterproof phone cases but do offer some protection against spills (again, you can’t use your phone when it’s wrapped up in a grocery bag). If you do need to resort to grocery bags or dry thermoses, turn off your phone first to protect against overheating. 

Mobile Protection Plans

No waterproofing solution for your phone is 100% guaranteed. Even the best hard waterproof cases can fail, so avoiding water as much as possible is your best protection. Regularly back up your phone to protect your data, especially before hitting the beach or going boating, to save your personal information if the worst happens. Safeguarding your phone with a mobile protection plan is a wise investment: Eventually, almost everyone damages a phone, so why not take steps to ensure you can get yours replaced with as little trouble (and expense) as possible?

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