How Do You Make a Smartphone 100% Water-Proof?

It is mighty difficult to imagine life today without smartphones – not even in your dreams! They have invaded every aspect of our personal lives, so much so that we tend to miss our smartphones even when we’re in the bathroom. They have become an inseparable part of our lives, like an appendage!

However, with great phones comes great responsibility, and even greater stress to take care of them. You have to protect your smartphones from dust, unwanted scratches, thefts, and plenty of other dangers. And yes, you have to make sure that you don’t accidentally drop your smartphone in the bathtub while texting your loved ones. This major risk brings us to the concept of water-proofing. Can’t they make smartphones that are absolutely water-proof?

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Types of Water-Proofing

You can make your smartphone water-proof in two ways. One method involves putting physical barriers, such as port covers and sealing seams that could prevent water from entering those openings; however, they can also disturb the proper functioning of the device. The other method involves nanocoatings that entirely penetrate the device and actively repel water.

How Does That Work?

Smartphone in Water


While both techniques work, the latter (usage of nanocoatings) is more dependable for completely water-proofing a phone. It also ensures that there is no compromise on the size and aesthetics of the phone. To apply these nanocoatings, the device is placed in a plasma-enhanced vapor in a vacuum chamber at room temperature. This plasma-enhanced vapor consists of a gaseous polymer that plays a vital role in water-proofing. When it comes in contact with the surface of the device (the contact can be both external and internal), it forms a strong covalent bond and thus a water-proof barrier! Don’t worry, this barrier is infinitesimally thin. In fact, it is one-thousandth the width of a strand of hair.

Once this barrier is formed on the phone, the polymer layer drastically reduces the surface energy, meaning that when water comes in contact with the surface of the phone, it forces the water to bead up, effectively repelling it. Due to this, it becomes impossible for water to penetrate into the internal components of the phone.

Hydrophobic nanocoating

Hydrophobic nanocoating: Water beads up (Credits: GooDween123/Shutterstock)

If, by chance, water penetrates into the casing of the phone, there still won’t be any damage. This is not simply a coat of paint; each internal component will be coated with the same polymer, so those vital components will be protected.

How Long Does It Repel Water?

Just because this polymer is effective doesn’t mean that you can let your phone hang out next to you in the bathtub. The protective coating can offer water-proofing only for a certain time limit. Water would not do much harm to your phone if it were submerged for 30 minutes or less. After that, it would be wise to take it out and let it dry.

In other words, if you were planning to take your phone for a long swimming day at the beach, think again!

If you are interested to learn about how is foldable phones made click here.

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About the Author

Ashish is a Science graduate (Bachelor of Science) from Punjabi University (India). He spearheads the content and editorial wing of ScienceABC and manages its official Youtube channel. He’s a Harry Potter fan and tries, in vain, to use spells and charms (Accio! [insert object name]) in real life to get things done. He totally gets why JRR Tolkien would create, from scratch, a language spoken by elves, and tries to bring the same passion in everything he does. A big admirer of Richard Feynman and Nikola Tesla, he obsesses over how thoroughly science dictates every aspect of life… in this universe, at least.

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