The real issue with waterproof phones

Today Google’s new phone was released to the world, the Pixel, which is their new competitor with Samsung and the iPhone1. And already, there’s complaints it’s missing the feature that is apparently becoming commonplace in smartphones: being waterproof. As the article states:

A new leak from Android Police suggests the phones will come with just an IP53 rating, which means they will be protected from ”limited dust ingress” and “water spray less than 60 degrees vertical.”

This will put Google’s new phones at a distinct disadvantage compared to the latest flagship smartphones from Apple and Samsung. Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, as well as Samsung’s Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and Note 7 are all waterproof to a point, and waterproofing seems to be on track to be the new normal for smartphone durability.

But I think this mostly ignores one of the major problems waterproofing a phone: Actually using it when wet2.

My phone, a midrange android phone I bought last year, is waterproof. And because of that, I’ve started taking it into the bath with me.

But if I touch it with wet fingers, the screen utterly freaks out, if I’m writing something there’s change the delete key will become ‘stuck’ and delete everything.

Just don’t take your phone in the bath? For me especially, it’s not as simple at that. As I’ve written multiple times, I have OCD. Combining that with germaphobia, I wash my hands a lot, which often leads to them being in a perpetual state of ‘wetness.’ Again, if I touch my phone with wet fingers, the screen does not know how to deal with this.

If anything, waterproofing phones, but also making them usable when wet, should be a high priority on the list of smartphone makers. It is essentially an accessibility issue, and the minute your phone stops becoming accessible it starts becoming annoying.


  1. Ditching the old Nexus line.
  2. And yes, I get that these improvements are meant to help it survive a dip in the bath, but this is something that needs to be improved.

Originally published on Valiant Ghost

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