Galaxy S5

Having a waterproof phone just makes sense, and the tradeoffs just aren't as big as they used to be

I went camping over the weekend, and after four days in the "wilderness" (or as wild as I'll get involved with) I realized it's really awesome to be carrying a smartphone that's waterproof. And now that the compromises of having a waterproof phone don't amount to thick rubber housings, rugged styling or even flaps over ports in many cases, I'm wondering why nearly every phone released today isn't in some way resistant to liquids.

I chose to carry a Galaxy S5 in my pocket over the weekend, and not because of its software, camera or any other feature — I primarily chose to use it because it's the one waterproof phone that I have. I brought my Nexus 5 along (how often do I not have two phones on me?) as well, but it was tucked safely in a backpack for the times I needed it. The phone that got used was the one that would survive the inevitable spills, bumps and moist encounters a phone is often faced with when you're camping.

Accidents happen. Phones (well, lots of expensive, fragile things) get dropped in water or have liquids spilled on them on a regular basis. But this happens at a dramatically higher pace when you're camping with a bunch of friends and family. Not because anyone's out to get your phone wet on purpose, but simply because you have several people together having fun very close to a body of water.

If someone spilled a freshly-opened beer on my phone, everything was going to be okay.

Drinks were spilled. Tables were bumped. Chairs were tipped over. Boat rides were taken. Kayaks were used. And the one thing I never worried about was whether or not my GS5 was going to be alright around all of these potentially electronics-killing situations. I've seen more than my fair share of phones dropped in wet cup holders, doused in beer on a picnic table or accidentally splashed getting out of the boat, and it's never a fun experience.

But over this long weekend I didn't worry about any of that. I got up from a table full of people and left my phone sitting there, knowing that when I returned in 10 minutes it didn't matter if someone spilled a freshly-opened Blue Moon all over it, or there was a crazy flash flood-inducing rain storm (sadly that second one happened this weekend). I brought my phone with me on a morning kayak ride and took some awesome pictures of the rocks along the lake and of a deer taking a stroll along the shore — pictures I never would have captured with another phone simply because I'd be too scared of getting it wet to bring it.

Every phone should be waterproof — or simply "water resistant" if you want to cover your bases — going forward. A few manufacturers, like Sony and Kyocera, have lead the charge and the likes of Samsung have started to catch up, but we're far from waterproofing being a standard feature currently.

I don't want to have to choose to use one phone over another simply because I'm scared of getting it near something wet. The technology is available, the added cost of waterproofing is negligible and it's a feature that consumers of all kinds can see real value in. It's time for every phone to be usable in a variety of situations — let's start with letting phones get wet from time to time.


Reader comments

Waterproofing needs to be standard on every phone


They don't care about consumer confidence, they want to get out of warranties by claiming "humidity damage". That's the whole purpose of that sticker that changes color if you even breathe on it.

I agree, and I wish my One M8 was officially water resistant. I worry about spilling something on it less than any other phone I've ever owned though, and that peace of mind makes a difference.

Posted via Android Central App

It's not really as much HTCs fault as it is just the fact that metal isn't water resistant

Posted via Nexus 7 2013 or Galaxy S5

My boat seems to do okay with it..I think submarines are metal too... Kind of confused by this comment.

True I'm sorry I don't know a lot about the properties of metal I just mean on phones

Posted via Nexus 7 2013 or Galaxy S5

It wouldn't be as easy as with plastic, but it would definitely be possible to seal up a metal phone such as the M8.

Aluminium is not water permeable.

Posted via Android Central App

Maybe he is referring to rust? His comment is really unclear, and the HTC is made from Aluminum, anyway, so rust isn't a factor.

Not really sure where you got metal isn't water resistant...but to your other statement, yes it would be htcs "fault" because they chose to use metal, metal didn't choose to be used by them...

Posted via Android Central App

The build quality besides the software is what differs HTC from the competition I think that's what they have going for them

Posted via Nexus 7 2013 or Galaxy S5

Maybe I'm lucky, or maybe just more careful, but I got my first pager about 30 years ago, my first cell phone 26 years ago, and my first smartphone (a Treo 600) in 2003, and I've never damaged any of my mobile electronics by getting them wet. That includes multiple Treos, multiple Android phones, multiple Blackberries (company issued, not my choice), and even multiple pagers.

Water "proofing" is a nice plus, but I guess that personally I don't care that much. (After writing this, of course, I'll probably drop my phone in the toilet today. :) )

I have never killed a device from water either. But I still really want a water resistant one. I haven't ruined a device by water because I'm very careful around it, or don't bring my device with me in situations where there will be a lot around. like on the ski boat at the lake, while kayaking, or even smoking a cigar with a light summer time drizzle going on. I think my use cases for my phone would really expand if I didn't have to worry about them surviving so much.

I never have either, but I'd prefer it was there.

Something I have had to do more than once is fish fluff out of a port with a pin. Some people rip the covers off, I say bring on covered ports!

Posted via Android Central App

I have to agree. I've never damaged any phone due to water and I've owned cell phones since 1994 or so.
I do jump into a pool with a headset on though. -> Dead instantly.

I toyed with water proofing my phone to mixed results.

While I could and did coat my phone in a thin plastic film, the ports were the issue and at least right now I have not figured out the best way to protect them.

I agree waterproofing phones would make for a great standard feature.


Posted via Android Central App

A gasketted plug is probably the only option.

Personally I wouldn't attempt to self waterproof a phone. Or trust the waterproofing on one that had been self waterproofed.

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Best and cheapest option is still to carry a zip lock bag with you if you think you are in a situation where your phone may get wet. As a retired soldier, I used zip lock bags religiously for just about everything and they never let me down.

Plastic press and seal snack size bag.

When around water situations like pool, beach, rain, kayaking for example, I put my smartphone in a plastic press and seal snack size bag. All features and functions including touch screen are fully functional except camera lens clarity.

Definitely don't like flaps so much I wouldn't buy a handset or case that had flaps.

I'll agree with the screen, but can disagree with the camera's overall performance.

But yes, waterproofing kinda trumps all that in certain situations.

Water resistance was not mentioned at all in your "two months on" article on the S5, which I feel like was an omission. The vacation that you are describing is the exact use case for why the S5 has been great for me. Real time HDR means great outdoor pictures all the time with quick shutter speed and processing time, and you can even take pictures while doing water activities - perfect for putting together vacation albums of the kids to send to the grandparents. Yes, I wish the low light pictures were better, but as the smallest, lightest flagship of the year, the ergonomics and real life usability have been outstanding. I even like the looks - the replacement blue back is hot!

You are 100%correct with this article. I'm in Mexico right now and my lg g2 suffered hardware damage yesterday because I got caught in a rain storm while viewing the Tulum ruins. The phone was in my pocket and in a case but because I got soaked the top part of my screen doesn't respond to touch. Now when I get back to NYC tomorrow I'm going to see if Verizon will replace my phone, which probably won't happen.

My wife's HTC was in my other pocket and suffered no damage.

However LG needs to get in board with creating water resistant phones.

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That's unfortunate. I was at an Alice in Chains concert 2 weeks ago in the driving rain for an hour snapping pics and trying to get decent video with my g2 and it didn't affect it at all. I've got a skin on it I wonder if that helped keep the water out.

Good thing, because their warranty doesn't cover liquid damage. Even if it did, they stand behind it about as well as a one-legged table.

You'll find that most manufacturers warranties don't cover liquid damage, unless the product is specifically designed to be waterproof.

It's not an environment the product is designed to be used in.

Posted via Android Central App

Yes waterproofing is needed. I am stuck between choosing a E8 or a GS5 just coz one of it is waterproof. But is the E8 waterproof to some extent? Andrew any leads on that?

E8 is the polycarbonate version of the M8 with a 13 mp cam and no sense tv. That's pretty much it. Hope i didn't miss anything. Android Central did a review of the device some days back.

You should check Swappa and see if American sellers are willing to ship to India. I don't know of you have to pay other fees though

OnePlus One

Back in the day, I had a Casio G'zone flip phone issued by my employer. I remember taking it apart to cut the film over the mouth. ear piece and speakers just to be able to hear, and be heard. Has any one had issues with clarity on the S5, or Sony's?

Absolutely not! things have changed from "back in the day" no problems at all with clarity.......

S4Active owner & S5 user.

I cannot speak for the Sony models, but it is not an issue on the s5. You won't notice

Posted via Android Central App

My Z1s will lose speaker volume and the mic may get muffled but in the hand book it says this is normal and to wait up to 3 hours. Have not had an issue yet.

Posted via Android Central App

I agree 100%! I love my GS5 and will never buy a phone that is not water resistant/proof again. Bring on the note 4!!

Posted via My (unlimited everything) T-Mobile Galaxy S5...

Is the Note 4 going to be water resistant? I don't think it's possible due to the stylus but then again you never know.

Posted via the Android Central App

It's an extra opening.

Someone enlightened me about a month ago that it does not matter though. I am kinda confident that the sn4 will be waterproof

Posted via Android Central App

I have no idea how they'd do it on a water resistant one, but on previous notes there was a switch deep in the stylus slot. This switch led up to more circuits, so they'd need to seal that up nicely amongst other things.

That being said, a water resistant Note 4 would be wonderful.

That opening shouldn't be any different than opening for headphones, which on the most waterproof phones doesn't have to be plugged (i.e. Sony Z series). In the beginning there was a problem w phone going in headset mode - until water would completely dry out , but later they figured it out.

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The stylus port could be completely closed. but the stylus would need to be sealed as its a digitizer pen so it too has batteries.

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Yeah, we're at times where you can make a phone waterproof without it looking ridiculous and bulky. There's no reason to not make them all that way now. It shouldn't be a selling point, it should be standard. It should be the same as expecting a phone to have a micro-USB port as opposed to some proprietary connector, now. I REALLY hope the Note 4 has the same waterproofing as the S5.

I disagree. The usb cover on the S5 is difficult to use, meaning it wont stay out of the way for me to plug it in. I almost need a third hand. One to hold phone, one to hold back usb cover, one to plug in usb charger. I also think it's ridiculous to encourage people to use their expensive high end smartphone under water. Water resistance is a great idea for all phones. This doesn't encourage taking it in the pool or lazy river like i see while on vacation at the beach. And it adds unnecessary bulk. Yes, i think their should be options to buy a water proof phone if you want one, but dont make it on all phones so i don't have to go through those headaches (usb port cover and extra bulk) if i don't want to.

There are better ways to charge a waterproof device, for sure. Perhaps like Sony's magnetic/pogo connector, or built in Qi wireless charging. I haven't had to pull the flap off the USB port of my Z2 tablet to charge it once, since I can either put it in the cradle or use a micro-USB to magnetic port adapter on my charge cable. Extra bonus is if the phone gets bumped, knocked off the table, or the cord gets tripped over, it doesn't damage the phone/tablet.

This is the reason I chose the S5 over the G3. I am in the military and never really know what kind of conditions I'll be working in.

At the end of a long time away training this summer, I went on the Au Sable river in a kayak and got some amazing pictures on my unit and I because I could have my phone on me and not in a bag or waterproof case.

Some people may not like all that Samsung does but it is a good feature and it has a GREAT camera.

Posted via the Android Central App

This is just personal preference, and I'm sure you really like your S5 - Samsung can make some pretty good stuff at times. I would have gone with the Z2 in a Trident case. Waterproof, and well protected by the case. Yes, it would be easier/nicer had Sony released it wider and sooner in the U.S.

I can't agree more, kinda stupid how is not a standard and is deemed to be done sort of special feature

Posted via Android Central App

Motorola is doing a great job here. The Moto X and Moto G both have a water-resistant coating on the circuit board. No plugs to cover holes and get in the way, since the electronics inside are protected.

Posted via Android Central App

Honestly, it doesn't even need to be a spill or drop in the sink/toilet/puddle/lake. Just a thorough drenching with rain can be enough to ruin a phone.

A couple of years ago I was at a festival. The day started out fine but mid-afternoon we got a dousing with typical English rain: not torrential but enough to get into everything and make it soggy, even under waterproof jackets and ponchos. My friend's iPhone -- tucked in a jeans pocket -- was damp but didn't seem drenched... but it never switched on again. A few drips around the home button or headphone socket was apparently the kiss of death.

Last month, NYC got a torrential downpour. We're talking tropical storm-type rain, the kind you see in FL, not in NY. 2" of rain in a matter of hours, most of it in the first hour... which happened to be right as I was walking home from work. I was in the middle of several residential blocks with no stores or cover to duck under: even under an umbrella, every item of clothing (and I mean EVERY item) was utterly soaked through within 2-3 minutes, as badly as if I'd jumped in a bath.

I was convinced my S4 was going to be a write-off. Got home, wiped it off, and -- by some miracle -- it switched on and never missed a beat. (My shoes, on the other hand, were completely destroyed!) But the experience convinced me that waterproofing isn't just some gimmicky feature for campers, or careless hipsters in coffee shops spilling their lattes. With modern tech, waterproofing *should* become a standard feature, absolutely.

Waterproofing will drive prices higher as well as alter design elements. Not everyone needs a waterproof device (myself being one) as I have NEVER had an issue with water damage. Therefore, someone like me, would like to have an option of paying a little less or having a different design aesthetic over being forced into the alternative.

No thanks, I'd rather have slimmer bezels and a smaller profile or bigger battery. Not everyone has butterfingers.

Posted via the Android Central App

If I can have it all then that would be great but I'll also take the thinner bezels and smaller profile. Had an S4 and was overall really happy with that phone but when the S5 was introduced I really had no interest in it. Very happy G3 owner now. Likely will never go back to Samsung unless they stop using the stupid physical home button. Really my only complaint on the S4 but AOSP based roms addressed that...

Its not about people having butterfingers, it's about being able to use a waterproof/water resistant phone in places that you couldn't even imagine using a non water resistant phone.

Posted via My (unlimited everything) T-Mobile Galaxy S5...

Yeah, no. Some of us don't care about crap like that. I use my phone how I use my phone, I have other gadgets that I can use if I want to get water/mud/dust involved. I would rather have a smaller profile, and I don't think I am alone. Remember all the crying about how monstrous the bezels were on the S5? Yeah most of those people probably went out and bought the damn thing on launch day but some of us at least, would rather have the slimmer phone. Options are good. Android has always been about options. Any article that says "every phone needs to have x feature" is completely missing the point of Android.

it's definitely a great invisible type of protection to have, should be attached as a feature just as a screen or battery is, especially in today's technological world - a lot of us would unquestionably pay for that extra layer of protection

whenever I go kayaking I have to use this thick ziplock type clear pouch for my thunderbolt

Dear Samsung,

If the Note 4 isn't waterproof, I'll be getting a Sony Xperia Z3.

Potential Customer

Posted via Android Central App

I've never felt the need for water proofing or even water resistance. I'd prefer they put the money into better specs or a larger battery.

And for crying out loud if you're going to water proof a phone wireless charging should be standard.

+1 on the wireless charging. Though I do have to say that Sony's magnetic charging port on the Z2 series is a good compromise.

Agree, but the waterproofing has to be done correctly. The stories abundance of "waterproof-less" GS5. And mine is one if them, as it got water inside (luckily I caught it early) after performing the rinse maneuver they show in the commercial....

Posted via Android Central App

You're right it's not hard, but accidents happen. But not having to worry about your phone getting wet is the biggest thing here. It doesn't mean you should be careless with your device, but it also means you can just enjoy what you're doing while using your phone without fear of it being destroyed by moisture.

I have never worried about my phone getting wet, ever, and I've never had a water damaged phone. It's just not that important to some of us. The benefits of having a water resistant phone are not worth the drawbacks.

I think that it's a needed thing on any high end device. I have never dropped a phone in the sink or the lake but have ruined a few by spilling coffee or a glass of water on them. All of those 500.00 incidents could have been prevented with rudimentry water proofing( or at least making them water resistant) I would gladly pay 5 or 10 dollars extra for the feature.

I put my Nexus 5 in a Ziplock Bag while camping or Canoeing, works great doesn't affect touch screen sensitivity. Nor does it affect the camera.

Amen, I'm still rolling my gs4 active. I love not having to worry about liquids in the outdoors.

Posted via Android Central App

Until they start including wireless charging as a standard feature and not an accessory held for ransom by carriers I can't get on board with this. Having to open a flap on the S5 every time I want to charge is a tremendous pain.

edit: Sorry that was supposed to be a reply to thread not you specifically

I ripped the door off of my DNA a week after I got it because it started ripping on its own. This might sound dumb but a stupid door over the charging port of the Note 4 might be a deal breaker for me.

@andrew the galaxy S5 is NOT WATERPROOF it is water RESISTANT there is a big difference. if the phone gets splashed wit a lil water ur fine if it gets dropped in a pool ur SOL the waterproof title is very misleading

it's the standard in japan. nearly every phone in the market is waterproof and has been for several years now..
ever since i got an Xperia Z from work i stopped caring about rain/water etc. then i bought a Z1 for myself..
amazing combo i'd say. best camera in a phone plus waterproofing.. what else could i ask for haha

Agreed wholly. I had a scare recently where I poured a coffee mug full of water onto my Nexus 5 (like directly on). Fortunately, it survived and seems fine, but the fear was there.

We had a similar camping/whitewater trip this summer, and my friend's GS5 Active was awesome. We used to to video some of the rapids (using a helmet cam) and they turned out really well.

I for one hate having to deal with the flaps that make the phone waterproof and try to avoid buying phones with them. So I'm probably the only one but I just don't like waterproof phones.

Posted via the Android Central App

The Sonys have a magnetic dock connector that you can use kinda like on a macbook so you don't have to mess with the flap. It means you have to pick up a couple of extra cables but once you do that it's convenient enough. Plus there are a couple of aftermarket docks (both car and desk) that are cheap and work well. I haven't needed to uncover my usb flap in weeks. Wireless charging that actually works would be even better but I never had much luck with that on my Nexus 4, was too touchy and tended to overheat.

I have officially killed 4 different phones (2 old flip phones back in the day, 2 smartphones) either by going swimming with them in my pocket, or dropping them in water.

So far I haven't killed my Moto X yet but I agree, waterproofing in the way that Sony and Samsung have done should be something all manufacturers consider, at least for flagships.

I totally agree. My current phone is an Xperia Z2, which I chose specifically because of the waterproofing. I have no intention of using it as an underwater camera, but I sail, canoe, bike, jog, camp and occasionally drink beer all of which have in the past caused me to leave my phone stowed or in a waterproof case and thus unusable. Having a phone I'm not scared to use in any situation, which also has a *great* camera has been a big win for me. I find the Sony level of Android customization to be acceptable (it's a thin enough layer to not get in the way too often), and I love the hardware. I did add a wrist strap because although it is waterproof it doesn't float! Thankfully Sony provided a lanyard slot on the corner.

Standards for water resistant phones is an excellent idea....but your asking companies to get together to do this..
When they spend their time suing each other over "your watch looks like my watch" ridiculous and the rest of the time, it's who can build in the most bloatware.

Posted via Android Central App

Glad my G3 is water resistant. Most flagship phones are pretty good about this even without IP certification.

Water proof is great, but I want drop proof. I want the phone that when I drop it doesn't scratch, dent or cause something to get lose. I've never lost a phone to water damage, but have to dropping it. That's why I like the "active" line from Samsung.

I don't know why phones weren't waterproof years ago. That should be a minimum standard now. I guess it's because the industry wouldn't make money from people who spilled drinks on their phones.

Here is an idea take personal responsibility for taking care of your electronics waterproof or not, but I doubt the consumer would agree.

Posted via the Android Central App

Agreed! My place got flooded during the weekend and the only thing I had to do with my Kyocera Hydro Icon was to wash the mud away under running water and it was good to go.

Not sure I agree, esp if it makes the phone quite a bit bulkier. But then again, I tend to prefer thin and light phones. and I don't go camping either, so ...

'waterproof' was the best feature the Sony z brought to the market. I loved it than and I still do.
It's just something that's really helpful in real life.

Posted via Android Central App

My phone becomes cumbersome in its otterbox armor case. The defender case is great but not waterproof. Please waterproof all phones

Posted via Android Central App

I love the water-resistance feature on my Xperia Z1. It survived countless drunken nights by the beach, and heavy typhoon-related rainfall.

Posted via Android Central App

I went to the beach and my GS5 had a hard beating with sand and dust. I washed my phone with fresh water and back to normal. Love it.

Posted via Android Central App

I keep reading about spills and caught in rain etc. But you guys are missing the point. Underwater pictures and video. And normal use of your phone in the rain or pool or beach etc.

I went with a Sony for this reason and the camera button since a touch screen is useless when wet.

All that said, with wireless sync and pogo or qi charging the flaps should not be an issue for any body except the rare restore/Crack flashers or USB only charge in an emergency

Posted via Android Central App

I don't want waterproof phone with flaps. Doing perfectly fine with my Nexus 4, it had got splashed with water accidentally on occasions.

Posted via Android Central App on Nexus 4

I don't much care for water proofing but if they add the feature to my Nexus, I'll use it in the shower.

AC App via Nexus 5

I agree that the phone should be waterproof and even unbreakable. But, it's not camping unless there is no cell service.

Posted via Android Central App

I'm a whitewater kayaker and have taken my S5 with every time I go out. It's in my PFD and gets wet, though not submersed for any length of time. I left the Apple universe for this phone figuring the iPhone 6 won't be water resistant and I've been very pleased with it. I don't see a waterproof iPhone in our future.