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.