“Plop”, the sound that can put the fear of god in you, a sound that needs no explanation. It’s a clear indication that your precious smartphone has hit liquid territory and it’s time to start panicking. But that might not be the case if you have a waterproof smartphone. It will take more than a few plops and splashes to deter your spirit with a phone like that.

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Such is this ingenious technology that has been introduced to some of the latest flagship smartphones by Samsung, Apple, LG and Sony.

The world gasped in excitement with this new feature and already began to imagine all the underwater photos they’d be uploading on Instagram.

However, this luxurious feature is not completely f00l-proof. The word waterproof is defined as “impervious to water”, but not all of these phones are truly impervious. Each of them is created differently, with different terms and circumstances that define its water-resistance. So, if you were planning to take your new expensive “waterproof smartphone” for a dip on your next beach holiday, you might want to read this before.

How do you make a phone resistant to water?

When you drop your phone in a puddle, the water gets into the many gaps and ports, and makes its way to the processor, wreaking havoc. So, the first step was to seal up these open spaces. Phone manufacturers used a simple technique to glue the phone and make it airtight. While some literally used an adhesive-like substance, others like Apple used rubber gaskets. These are O-rings on the insides of the phone that press up and firmly fasten the surface. For the button, many use a little silicone rubber that separates the physical part from the electrical contents inside. Since the speakers and microphone need some air to enter and leave your phone, the same airtight technology can’t be used on them. To make them water-resistant, a very fine mesh is placed on the front that allows the water to flow through cohesion and surface tension without passing inside. Each brand uses small tweaks like these to protect the insides of the phone from immediate water damage.

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While most people believe that such protection makes a phone waterproof, many phone manufacturers insist on the term water-resistant. All the above mentioned methods can keep water from getting into your phone but can’t withstand it indefinitely.

Every water-resistant smartphone is issued an IP rating that indicates how much exposure a phone can withstand.

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Understanding IP ratings

IP stands for International Protection marking, a standard drawn up by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Smartphones are certified depending on how resistant they are to elements like dust and water. Look for the IPXX mark, where the X represent a number. The first digit stands for dust resistance and the second for water. The higher the number, the better is its protection level.

Currently the best water-resistant phones are the ones with IP67 and IP68. The “7” rating indicates that the phone can be submerged in water up to 1m depth for up to 30 minutes. The “8” rating phones can be immersed in 1m or more water for 30 minutes.

These tests indicate the parameters of a phone’s water-resistance, which makes it safe from accidental water damage. However, these are circumstantial measures – this applies to only water and not any other liquids. Additionally, phones are protected only from fresh water, and may not survive a dunk in salt water. This means you may want to reconsider carrying your smartphone in your pocket when you go to the beach.

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End note

It is important to understand the water-resistance feature is a protective measure and not a utility feature to be experimented with – so no underwater photography, please. Doing so will only pose to be a risk. Also remember, even though the phone can withstand splashes and minor drops in puddles, if your phone gets wet, you need to take appropriate measures to dry it before you begin charging your phone.

Is it worth buying an expensive phone only for its water-resistant properties? Find out what our tech experts had to say about it.

Images courtesy: Shutterstock.com

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