Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE is the best waterproof Android phone you can buy



Over the years, water-resistance in phones has gone from being a luxury reserved only for top-shelf phones to a standard feature that’s expected of any remotely expensive gadget. We’ve rounded up the best waterproof phones in 2021, lead by the fantastic Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. Take a look at our list for more options that will fit any budget and lifestyle needs.

Best Overall Waterproof Phone: Samsung Galaxy S20 FE


The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE emerged toward the end of 2020 as our consensus choice for the best Android phone most people should buy. That doesn’t mean that it had the best specs overall or was the best-priced phone. No, we love this S20 variant because of how well it balances price, features, and built quality, and part of that build quality is its IP68 water and dust resistance.

Unlike its higher-priced siblings in the S20 and Note 20 lineup, this phone has a plastic, or rather, “glasstic” rear panel, but that doesn’t make it feel cheap or less premium to us. It actually makes the phone considerably more resistant to damage from accidental drops. The glasstic back also allowed for several vibrant color options, including Cloud Navy, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint, Cloud Orange, Cloud Red, and Cloud White.

On top of the water-resistance, you get a top-of-the-line Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC, with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The cameras outperform many top-tier flagships, and the 4500 mAh battery is outstanding. It’s no wonder we’ve crowned the Galaxy S20 FE not only as the best “value flagship,” but as the best phone you can buy in 2020.


  • Large, beautiful 120Hz display
  • Flagship-quality cameras
  • Excellent battery life
  • Three years of platform updates
  • Wireless charging and IP68 rating


  • Some may be turned off by the plastic back
  • Not yet on Android 11

Best Overall Waterproof Phone

Samsung Galaxy S20 FE


$700 at Amazon
From $650 at Best Buy
From $553 at Walmart

The best phone value of 2020

The Galaxy S20 FE offers nearly everything as the more expensive S20 variants, with high-end specs and IP68 water resistance.

Best Waterproof Phone Upgrade: OnePlus 8 Pro


The OnePlus 8 Pro is as impressive and well-designed as any smartphone can be. If you know anything about the company’s phones, you’ll be happy to know the 8 Pro doesn’t upend the traditional OnePlus formula. Instead, it takes it to its logical place in the world of 2020 smartphones with more features and a higher price. Plus, for the first time, that means additions like IP68 resistance.

The hardware goes head to head with any phone out there, and it’s punctuated by the best display OnePlus has used. It’s bright, colorful, and has a super-smooth 120Hz refresh rate. Inside there are exceptional specs, leading to fantastic performance thanks to the OxygenOS software that’s always a joy to use.

The 8 Pro also has the best cameras yet on a OnePlus phone, with a new main sensor that ups its game to a true flagship level. The entire camera experience is a small step below the likes of the Galaxy S20+, but then again, it’s also less expensive. That’s really where the OnePlus 8 Pro fits in. It’s a true flagship phone experience through and through, for just a bit less money than the traditional players with big brand names.


  • Large, beautiful 120Hz display
  • Greatly improved main and wide-angle cameras
  • Excellent battery life
  • OxygenOS is a best-in-class Android software
  • Wireless charging and IP68 rating


  • Much more expensive than before
  • Limited 5G compatibility in the U.S.
  • Telephoto camera isn’t good
  • Some software and camera bugs still present

Best Waterproof Phone Upgrade

OnePlus 8 Pro


$749 at Walmart
$799 at OnePlus

The best phone OnePlus has ever made

The OnePlus 8 Pro is impressive and well-designed but doesn’t upend the traditional OnePlus formula and delivers great value.

Best Big Waterproof Phone: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra


The Galaxy S21 Ultra takes a step above the more mainstream (and highly recommended) Galaxy S21. It has all of the same specs and features, yes including its water resistance rating, but with an even larger display — up to 6.8 inches — and correspondingly larger 5,000mAh battery. Even when using its gorgeous Quad HD+ display at 120Hz, it has incredible battery life, so you’ll never have to worry about longevity on this phone.

The Ultra also uses that extra space (and higher price) to give you better cameras, with a 108MP main shooter that takes even brighter photos and two telephoto cameras that can reach out and get great shots from 3X up to 10X (and even decent shots at 15X). The trade-offs for this extra capability, and battery life, are overall size and price. The S21 Ultra is bigger and heavier than the S21+ and S21.


  • Massive high-quality screen
  • IP68 water resistance
  • Huge battery
  • Super-sharp main camera shots
  • Solid zoom camera up to 15X


  • Necessarily big and heavy
  • No headphone jack
  • Very big and pretty pricey

Best Big Waterproof Phone

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra


From $1,200 at Samsung
$1,000 at Amazon
Fro, $950 at Best Buy

Samsung goes all-out

The S21 Ultra is what we hoped the S20 Ultra would be — big and beautiful with a great display and cameras and a huge battery.

Best Waterproof Phone Camera: Google Pixel 5


The Pixel 5 represents the very best of Google’s software. The hardware is no slouch either; that IP68-rated exterior holds similar muscle to other “value flagships,” with a Snapdragon 765 chipset and 8GB of RAM.

You also get stereo speakers and a great 90Hz display, and of course, the Pixel 5 has one of the best cameras on any phone you can buy. Night Sight allows the Pixel 5 to capture stunning photos even in near-pitch black conditions, and in daylight, you can grab great photos in any situation thanks to its 12.2 MP main and 16MP ultrawide cameras.

The Pixel 5 saw the return of an aluminum-backed phone, and somehow Google managed to get wireless charging to work through it as well!


  • Super-smooth 90Hz display
  • IP68 water resistance
  • Simple, useful, and fast software
  • Top-end camera quality back and front
  • Nice-looking and feeling hardware


  • Stereo speakers are just ok
  • Only available in one size and one storage configuration

Best Waterproof Phone Camera

Google Pixel 5


$699 at Amazon
$725 at Best Buy
$699 at B&H

The best camera you can get in a smartphone today

The Pixel 5 has excellent hardware and the best camera. Its aluminum chassis and IP68 rating mean it’s very durable.

Most Durable Waterproof Phone: Blackview BV5900


If you’re looking for a tough, rugged Android phone that you can take anywhere and which can take anything you throw at it (or it at), then you want the Blackview BV5900. This phone is built like a tank, with MIL-STD-810G certification and IP68 dust and water resistance. There is no need to even think about putting a case on this phone; it IS a case with a phone built-in.

This phone is perfect for the outdoor adventurer, tradesperson, or even teenager, but not just because it’s tough. It has a massive 5,580 mAh battery, and it comes with a capable 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, which is expandable up to 128GB. You also get NFC for Google Pay payments and a side-mounted fingerprint sensor. This phone is also the most affordable on this list!


  • Military-grade construction
  • IP68 water and dust resistance
  • Huge battery
  • NFC ready


  • Rugged design is not for everybody
  • No wireless charging

Most Durable Waterproof Phone

Blackview BV5900


$155 at Amazon

Built like an amphibious vehicle

Your phone and wallet will be protected with this durable and affordable device built like a tank.

Best Waterproof Phone With a Stylus: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is by most accounts the best premium Samsung device of 2020. It doesn’t fold like the Z Fold 2 or Z Flip, but it has higher specs than those two devices at a lower price point.

This year’s big Note packs some impressive specs into its admittedly large frame, including a 6.9-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a 12MP ultra-wide hole-punch selfie cam. It has a three-camera system on the back that rivals any on the market, supported by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ with 12GB of RAM and 128GB storage (though you can get a 512GB model). And, of course, the Note 20 Ulta is IP68 water and dust resistant. It’s pretty amazing that Samsung can achieve this rating with a stylus, but they somehow do!

If you want most of the features of the Note 20 Ultra (including water resistance) for less, there is also the regular Note 20 that features a durable “glasstic” back, similar to the Galaxy S20 FE.


  • Fantastic build quality
  • S Pen functionality
  • Gorgeous screen
  • Best Samsung camera experience
  • All-day battery life
  • IP68 rating


  • In-display fingerprint sensor is slow, especially when wet
  • Curved display causes accidental touches
  • Expensive

Best Waterproof Phone With a Stylus

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra


$1,100 at Amazon
$1,050 at Best Buy
$1,100 at B&H

All of Samsung’s great features, with a stylus inside

For many, there’s no replacement for a Note. Great hardware and specs, with a huge display, plus the unique S Pen features.

Best One-Handed Phone: Samsung Galaxy S10e


Samsung’s Galaxy S21 is quite a bit larger than its last small flagship, the Galaxy S10e, so if you want to focus on keeping a compact size, this is still your go-to. The S10e is still worth looking at, though, with price cuts making it rather appealing. It still has solid specs, although they’re from a few years ago, a great display, and high-quality hardware. Of course, it’s IP68 waterproof, too.

With a smaller 3,100mAh battery, you won’t get the same great endurance as the newer larger phones. Its cameras also feel particularly old as the S20 series made big leaps in quality. However, in just about every other right, you’re getting a solid flagship experience — again, befitting the price and size.


  • Compact size that’s great for one-handed use
  • IP68 water resistance
  • Excellent build quality
  • Good performance
  • Latest Samsung software
  • Side-mounted fingerprint sensor


  • Lackluster battery life
  • No telephoto camera
  • Older specs not expected to be supported much beyond 2021

Best One-Handed Phone

Samsung Galaxy S10e


$568 at Amazon
$599 at Walmart

The best phone, shrunken down into a one-handed device

The S10e may be a little older, but it’s still a great phone and perfect for one-handed use.

Bottom line

When waterproofing is a requirement in your next phone, you’re in luck: most of the best Android phones available today have at least IP68 resistance. That means our top pick for a waterproof phone is the same as our general best pick, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE has excellent hardware and specs, punctuated by a huge 120Hz display, and it performs exceptionally well with super clean software. Its cameras aren’t quite on the level of the best phones, but that’s a small mark on what is overall a fantastic phone — and best of all, it’s a bit less expensive than Samsung’s top-tier flagships.

What do these ratings mean?


While no phone is truly waterproof, there are varying water resistance levels to keep in mind when comparing different phones. Every model in this list is rated IP68, which denotes full dust resistance and allows the phone to survive up to 30 minutes in as much as two meters of water. Other phones may be rated IP67, offering the same dust protection but only half the submersion depth at a single meter.

You may also occasionally see IPX7, which protects against one meter of water but doesn’t guarantee protection against dust. Some phones, like the Moto G series, are water-resistant to some extent but not officially IP-certified. This means it’ll probably survive if you get caught in the rain or accidentally spill a drink on the table. Still, you shouldn’t test your luck since you’re unlikely to get very far with customer service if the water damage indicator inside the phone gets wet.

On that note, while water resistance is a great feature to have, it isn’t a guarantee from the manufacturer that your phone will survive any and all immersion. Especially if your phone gets badly cracked or the water sealant inside gets damaged (this typically happens when removing the back for repairs), liquid can still seep in and ruin your phone — so take the regular precautions with your phone, even if it’s IP68 certified. And that knowledge may also make you consider some of the best cheap Android phones that may not have official IP ratings but have a lot going for them otherwise.

Most phones are water resistant these days


Whether you buy the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, the Google Pixel 5, or so many others, you’ll be getting an incredible device that’s backed by the same IP68 certification. Even if none of these phones speak to you, though, here’s some excellent news: ingress protection is all but mandated in a flagship phone these days, so the next time you’re shopping around, you can pretty much choose whatever phone catches your eye.

If you’re shopping on a tighter budget, don’t worry — there are still some options worth considering with at least moderate water resistance. The Moto G Power (2021) may not be IP68-certified; it has a “water repellent P2i nano-coating” that protects it from splashes. While phones within this price range are less likely to have ingress protection, there are certainly options out there.

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