Waterproof phone cases prepare your phone for adventure with powerful splash protection and will keep your phone dry, even when it’s submerged for long periods of time. These waterproof phone cases often include some of the features of traditional phone cases, such as drop protection, while others work like miniaturized dry bags and often hook onto your neck or arm using a lanyard or cord. The former generally fits your phone closely, mirroring its contours, while the latter often features a clear, soft plastic bottom with a top that seals. Some phone cases even float, ensuring your smartphone doesn’t sink to the brackish depths of the sound.
Whether you’re setting off on an adventure down the Nile or getting ready for a summer spent at the pool, the best waterproof phone cases offer exceptional waterproofing that will keep your smartphone safe and dry, so that you can stay connected wherever you play.
— Best Overall: Lifeproof FRĒ Series
— Best Budget: Diverbox for iPhone 13
— Best for Kayaking: Pelican Marine Series
— Best for Samsung Galaxy: Ghostek Nautical
— Best for iPhone: Catalyst 33ft Waterproof Case
How We Picked The Best Waterproof Phone Cases
When researching the phone cases, we drew from lots of different sources and compared them with the brands that we follow. We researched phone cases from many manufacturers, diving deep into the specs and comparing similar models, looking for the cases that deliver the best combination of features. Here are the features we looked out for:
Waterproofing is by and large the most important feature of a waterproof phone case, of course. Waterproofing is generally notated with an ingress protection (IP) rating. IP ratings are written as a two-digit code: the first digit shows how well an object does at keeping out foreign bodies, and the latter describes how well a case keeps out water. Sometimes these codes will feature an X instead of the first digit (such as IPX7) — in this case, the X denotes that the case hasn’t been tested for dust and dirt. Often companies will also give information on how long a case can be submerged while keeping out water, and at what depth. IP68 was the standard we looked for in these waterproof phone cases.
Drop resistance is also often a selling point in waterproof phone cases. Some phone cases use a soft plastic bag–type build that’s designed to hold a phone that’s already in a drop-resistant case. These cases feature little drop resistance on their own. Other waterproof phone cases replace your phone’s drop-proof case and deliver both waterproofing and drop resistance. We included both hard plastic waterproof phone cases and soft plastic options on this list.
Lanyards are often used to keep waterproof phone cases from falling into water. These are especially useful if you plan to use your phone while kayaking or swimming in rough seas. The best lanyards connect securely and fasten around your neck or arm. Since it can often be difficult to find a phone that has sunk to the bottom of a lake or river, these lanyards can be very important. Thus we highlighted waterproof phone cases that include lanyards or give you the option of using them as an accessory.
Touch interference can be an issue with waterproof phone cases. Since most cases cover your phone in a layer of plastic, they can reduce your phone’s touch screen and button sensitivity. Some make it very difficult to use the phone while it’s in the case. Wherever possible, we looked for waterproof phone cases that don’t get in the way.
Best Waterproof Phone Cases: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Lifeproof FRĒ Series
Why It Made The Cut: With a powerful IP rating and excellent drop proofing, this is a waterproof phone case that’s equipped for any adventure you should happen into.
— IP Rating: IP68
— Screen Protector: Built in
— Drop Protection: 2 meters
— Excellent ingress protection for both water and dust
— Drop resistance rivals brands built just for that
— Solid longevity
— No lanyard connection
When you think smartphone protection, there’s little out there that does a better all-around job than the Lifeproof FRĒ Series. These formidable cases are known for combining the type of ingress protection that you need for extreme water adventures, and the shock-and-drop protection required for extreme sports. With an IP68 rating, this case protects your phone in over 50 meters of water for one hour, making it immune to snow, rain, or tips from the fishing boat.
Unlike some of the other dry bag–style cases on this list, the Lifeproof FRĒ is a case that’s meant to live on your phone full-time. It features sleek contours outlining a built-in screen protector that seals over your phone’s screen. The otherwise black case is trimmed with a shock of green that belies its extreme “sportiness.” Some might not love the aesthetic, but anyone who values protection will respect the overall package. The model we reviewed is built for the iPhone SE series and is compatible with the 3rd generation, 2nd generation, and 2020 models.
Lifeproof has also developed a new all-black model for the iPhone 13 Pro Max that includes the nice touch of 60 percent recycled plastic. However, there’s some discrepancy as to whether some of the newer models have the same quality control. This might be a moot point though, as the iPhone 12 and 13 series already come with IP68 ratings. Still, who wants to gamble with an iPhone 13? We think the Lifeproof FRĒ for the 13 model is still a good buy.
Best Budget: Diverbox for iPhone 13
Why It Made The Cut: With an IP68 rating, shock-proofing, and an included lanyard and connection, this value-priced case stands out from the competition.
— IP Rating: IP68
— Screen Protector: No
— Drop Protection: Shockproof (unrated)
— Solid IP rating
— Includes a lanyard connection
— Value price
— No built-in screen protector
— Some muffling issues
If you’re after a phone case with powerful protection, yet you don’t feel inclined to shell out close to a hundred dollars, there’s a great option waiting. The Diverbox for iPhone 13 is a slim shell for your iPhone that delivers protection that’s on par (and occasionally exceeds) what’s delivered by phone cases that are drastically pricier.
The Diverbox uses a snap on the rear and front that includes a built-in camera and screen protector. With what will feel like two clicks, the case seals to your phone. Its armored edges provide decent shock and drop protection. It also comes with an extra lip to protect the camera and screen and includes a lanyard. When properly assembled, the case provides IP68 water- and dust-proofing that will keep your phone well protected from whatever you throw at it.
While this case offers great protection for a very reasonable price, it does have a drawback or two. The protective layer over the microphone can muffle voices, but this issue is common with waterproof phone cases. It’s also important to buy the correct case for your phone model, as the case will block the flash and flashlight if it’s improperly paired.
Best for Kayaking: Pelican Marine Series
Why It Made The Cut: This waterproof phone pouch is universally compatible and features a lanyard strap and air cushions that keep it afloat, all while offering an IPX8 rating that will ensure your phone stays dry.
— IP Rating: IPX8
— Screen Protector: Built in
— Drop Protection: No
— Air cushions make this case float
— Lanyard keeps the phone fastened to you
— Fits any phone
— Somewhat hard to use the phone in the case
Your sea kayak jets into a powerful wave and you watch slack-jawed as your phone sails from your lap and kerplunks into the frosty blue. Not so with the Pelican Marine Series. The Pelican is a waterproof phone pouch that’s meant for water sports.
Pelican offers a dry bag–style universal waterproof phone case that’s prepared for days on the water. The pouch is universally compatible in two sizes, fitting phones up to six inches in the regular size, and seven inches in the XL (an impressively large waterproof phone case). It features a centrally placed lanyard that attaches to the top seal. Clear protectors on the front and rear allow you to use the screen and camera. Air cushions inside help the case float.
The best part of this phone case is its waterproofing and lanyard. Study enough for days on the water, its trim also makes it bright enough to spot should it slip away from you. Whether it floats is somewhat hit or miss, though the buoyant air pockets should keep it from sinking into especially deep water. If a floating waterproof phone case is what you’re after, it might not do quite as well as the CaliCase (which is the best floating waterproof phone case out there). The Pelican also makes your phone a little hard to use for texting. Still, its lanyard, waterproofing, bright color pops, and general buoyancy do make it one of the best cases for active water sports — and when you factor in its reasonable price, we think it’s an especially good buy.
Best for Samsung Galaxy: Ghostek Nautical
Why It Made The Cut: With an IP68 rating, solid drop protection, and a sleek profile that looks good on your phone in and out of the water, this is a great choice for Galaxy users.
— IP Rating: IP68
— Screen Protector: Built in
— Drop Protection: 12-foot drop resistance
— Solid impact resistance paired with great water resistance
— Unobtrusive design
— Wireless charging compatible
— The case can cause problems with the fingerprint reader
— Hard to install
The Ghostek Nautical is a Galaxy phone case that makes phone protection feel obvious. This form fitting case hugs the contours of your phone, while providing impressive armor that’s as shock-resistant as it is water-resistant. While the case is a bit hard to install, when it’s on — it’s on. It uses watertight port seals that seal the charger and headphone jacks.
As with many cases of its type, the Ghostek’s screen protector can cause interference with the phone screen. While the issue is by no means ubiquitous, many users find that the fingerprint reader has trouble working through the plastic shell. Because the case uses port seals that open and close, the case also has a propensity to leak water through its bottom—though this is also by no means ubiquitous. So while this case still has good waterproofing for regular use, it might not be the best underwater waterproof phone case for constant submersion. Still, besides these faults, this is a strong and protective case that does a great job for anyone encountering wet conditions daily, and its impressive shock protection also makes it a great choice for construction workers or landscapers who might work in rough and sometimes wet conditions. All in all, this is a strong Galaxy phone case that has just a couple of limitations—in the end, we think it’s a good buy.
Best for iPhone: Catalyst 33ft Waterproof Case
Why It Made The Cut: With solid drop protections, IP68 coverage, MagSafe charging, and an attractive design, this is a beautifully capable waterproof case for your new iPhone.
— IP Rating: IP6
— Screen Protector: Built in
— Drop Protection: 6.6-foot drop resistance
— MagSafe compatible
— Good waterproofing and drop resistance
— Attractive design
— Bottom seal is a weak point in the waterproofing
— Screen protector makes it hard to text
— Included lanyard isn’t reliable
This is a waterproof case that highlights your iPhone instead of hiding it. For most of us, Apple is about the features, and the Catalyst 33ft Waterproof Case capitalizes on this with some of the best integration with Apple’s signature features, including MagSafe charging. The case offers strong protection, with over 6 feet of drop protection and an IP68 rating. It uses a built-in screen and camera protector, and it hugs the contours of your phone, protecting them with armored bezels. All together, it makes for a visually attractive phone case that stands out among much of the waterproof competition.
For such a pricey case, it does have a few quirks. The lanyard that’s included in the package is not reliable and is prone to breaking, so don’t rely on it over deep water. Additionally, the bottom seal is a weak point. Some users find that this area can leak; however, this issue isn’t so pervasive as to be a deal breaker. As with many of the cases in its class, the Catalyst also uses a screen protector that sits right over the screen. Some people find that this can get in the way of fluid texting and other screen uses.
All in all, this case isn’t perfect, but for those who need casual waterproofing and want a case that shows off their phone and works well with some of the newer Apple features, such as MagSafe, this is a good bet. We think it's worth real consideration for any Apple user.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Waterproof Phone Case
Before you buy a waterproof phone case, there are a few things to be aware of.
Because most waterproof phone cases use a protective layer that covers your screen, these cases usually cause some touch-screen interference. This might cause a slight lag, or it might be so limited as to be unnoticable altogether. In the worst-case scenario, this could cause features such as a thumb reader to be ineffective or make texting highly difficult. For those who need only occasional waterproofing, a dedicated dry bag–style phone case may be the better option, as it will keep your phone dry when you’re in the water but is easy to take off when you’re out. Those who need waterproofing all the time, on the other hand, will want to use a more contoured waterproof case that doubles as shock and drop protection. While contoured cases offer less screen interference, they’re harder to get your phone into and out of. Consider how this touch interference might limit you before you decide whether and how to invest.
Dry Bag or Contoured
There are many benefits to dry bag–style phone cases, just as there are benefits to contoured phone cases that fit your phone. Usually dry bag–style cases come with a significant lanyard that keeps your phone attached to your body in rough seas, and some even float. Contoured waterproof phone cases act like waterproof armor and generally offer shock and drop protection, as well as waterproofing. Generally it's harder to take your phone out of contoured cases than dry bag–style cases.
The Right Case for the Job
When looking for a waterproof phone case, it’s very important to make sure you know which model of phone you own. Most phone cases are designed for a specific phone model. Some are backward compatible: For example, most cases built for an iPhone SE will fit an iPhone 7 or 8; however they will not fit an iPhone 7 Plus.
Many smartphones are actually quite resistant to water. The newest line of Apple phones actually have IP68 waterproofing that rivals the waterproofing of the best cases. Still, who wants to chance anything with such a pricey investment? We think it’s still a good idea to get a waterproof case for your smartphone, even if it is water-resistant already. But it’s still worth looking at how waterproof your phone already is. Apple provides a convenient chart for iPhone ingress protection ratings here.
Q: How much do waterproof phone cases cost?
Most waterproof phone cases cost anywhere from around $15 dollars to close to $100 dollars. Most simple dry-bag models cost around $50 or below, while contoured cases that are meant for daily use run the gamut.
Q: Do waterproof phone cases really work?
Yes, the best waterproof phone cases do a great job at keeping water away from your phone. However, generally this requires correct installation; it’s important to be sure that you install your waterproof phone case correctly if you want it to do its job.
Q: How long do waterproof phone cases last?
Waterproof phone cases can last a few months or multiple years. Sometimes the rubberized seal can break down first. The best waterproof phone cases should give you more than a year of use. Contoured models could last much longer.
Q: How do phones stay cool in a waterproof case?
Phones that are prone to overheating can run into trouble in sealed waterproof cases, as these cases give them less room to vent. If your phone begins to overheat from extreme use or prolonged sun exposure, consider taking the case off to help it cool down. Otherwise, since water itself is such a good heat conductor, the waterproof case presents the novel option of using a cup of cool water to cool your phone (ice could work too). That said, taking the case off might work better, as drastic heat changes aren’t usually great for electronics. In the end, most phones rarely run the chance of overheating, so this shouldn’t be an issue most of the time.
Q: How do I test a waterproof phone case?
A great way to test your new waterproof phone case is to put an absorptive tissue inside it that has been dabbed with dry watercolor pigment. If water enters the case, not only will the tissue get wet, but the watercolor pigment will bloom.
Waterproof phone cases give us new opportunities. With the right case, we can take our smartphones with us anywhere, be that onto the boat for a lazy afternoon of fishing, into the swimming pool to time our laps, or to the muddy jobsite as we rework a section of pipe in the fog. For a case that’s ready for active lifestyles and torrential rivers, we recommend the Pelican Marine Series, with its safety lanyard and buoyant design. Galaxy users who want a case that’s reliable in tough spots but designed for daily use have a friend in the Ghostek Nautical; it has a few issues, but overall we think it’s quite good. Our overall favorite, however, is the Lifeproof FRĒ Series, a powerful contoured phone case that does a great job at protecting your phone, in all cases.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.
Share This Article