Waterproofing Explained

Jun 16, 2017

We’ve all had water accidents with our phones. Phone falling out of the back pocket into the toilet is just classic, right? No? Just me? Or, an untimely shove into a lake. You were bobbing for apples and it just happened somehow. You just had to pull a Gene Kelly and go out singin’ in the rain. Whatever the way, waterlogging accidents are not uncommon, and most phones just don’t live to tell the tale. All you can do is swipe left, leave it alone, and pray. But not with the new generation of phones. No, now they make them impervious to the effects of water, like some species of super phones. Waterproofing is a recent technology implemented by all the major phone companies.

In fact, here is a list of all the water-resistant phones now released:

  • Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

  • Sony Xperia XZ

  • Motorola Moto G4 and G4 Plus

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

  • Kyocera DuraForce XD

There is a caveat, though. None of the phone companies claim to be completely waterproof. They label them water-resistant because they are designed to withstand a significant amount of water pressure for a certain period of time. They come with different IP ratings--how water-resistant they are to splashes, water jets, and submersion for an extended period of time. Remarkably, the phones are quite impermeable against these tests, and realistically, who needs more than this? This pretty much covers any accident if we’re not pushing it. But, just how do they do it? They use something surprisingly elementary: glue. Using tightly bound strips of adhesive and glue, every port, button, speaker grille, and microphone hole is equipped for high water-resistance. For all the internal parts, they use rubber gaskets to insulate the electronics. This isn’t all there is to it, though. If the phone were completely airtight, it would bloat under pressure. And speakers and microphones need airflow to produce sound and vibrations. So, the trick to making the phones watertight but not airtight is with a fine mesh material. It is placed inside the speaker and microphone gaps, and the water pools together and drips off without entering. Some phones, such as the iPhone and Galaxy S7, are equipped a step further with gore--a breathable, water-resistant fabric membrane. In actuality, there’s currently no such thing as a completely waterproof phone. With the functions that you need, like speakers, microphones, and charging ports, it’s just not possible to be invincible to water. But with the current technology and engineering, it is likely to protect them from all likely water fiascos. And it can only improve from here. ‘Splained.