The 9 Best Waterproof Phone Cases of 2021

Because rice should be something you eat, not something you put your phone in

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The Rundown
Best for iPhone 12 Series:
Catalyst Total Protection Case at Amazon
"Protects against depths of up to 33 feet and drops of up to 6.6 feet without getting in the way of using your iPhone."
Best for Samsung Galaxy S21 Series:
Ghostek Nautical Waterproof Case at Amazon
"Keeps your smartphone safe and dry at depths of up to 20 feet, and also offers military-grade drop protection."
"Doubles the iPhone's water resistance and also adds 6.6-foot drop protection."
Best for Google Pixel 5:
Lanheim IP68 Waterproof Case at Amazon
"Guards against water, dust, and scratches while still offering great touch sensitivity and support for fingerprint authentication."
"Capable of withstanding depths of 100 feet for up to 30 minutes while maintaining full touchscreen functionality."
"The crystal clear design and touch sensitivity means that you’ll also have no problem taking great photos."
"There's plenty of room for credit cards, cash or a slim wallet."
"Built-in foam padding makes sure your phone always floats to the surface. "
Best for Underwater Photography:
Willbox Professional Diving Case at Amazon
"Turns your smartphone into an underwater camera."

Today’s smartphones don’t come cheap, which is why you need the protection offered by one of the best waterproof phone cases to protect your device on all your outdoor adventures. Whether you’re white-water rafting or simply hanging out by the pool, these cases will make sure that your phone stays safe and dry from the elements. 

The best waterproof phone cases don’t just protect your smartphone against water, but also sand, dust, dirt, and even snow, while also usually offering some level of drop protection too. They’ll take you well beyond the water resistance offered by most modern smartphones, letting you take deep dives and even take pictures underwater. The best waterproof phone cases are a must-have for anybody with an active lifestyle, and especially those into water sports, but they’re also great for anybody who’s just worried about fumbling and dropping their phone outdoors. 

Best for iPhone 12 Series: Catalyst Total Protection Case for iPhone 12

Catalyst Total Protection Case for iPhone 12
What We Like
  • Adds drop protection

  • Passes through clear audio

  • Qi charging and MagSafe compatible

What We Don't Like
  • Only available in black

  • A bit pricey

As the name suggests, there’s more to Catalyst’s Total Protection Case than merely waterproofing. In addition to keeping your iPhone 12 dry in up to 33 feet of water, this slim yet rugged case also protects your device from drops of up to 6.6 feet. So, you’ll know your iPhone is safe from the elements whether you’re boating, white water rafting, or heading out on an extreme mountain biking ride. Plus, since the case is fully sealed it’s also easy to wash and disinfect it, as there’s no need to worry about soap and alcohol leaking through the case and into your iPhone. 

Best of all, Catalyst manages to pull off all of this great protection without hampering any of the functionality of your iPhone 12. The touchscreen remains responsive, Catalyst’s True Sound Acoustic Technology makes sure your calls and other audio come through loud and clear, and the hard-coated dual optical lens won’t get in the way of taking great pictures. Plus, you’ll have no problem with standard Qi wireless charging or even MagSafe accessories working through the case. 

Best for Samsung Galaxy S21 Series: Ghostek Nautical Waterproof Case for Galaxy S21

Ghostek Nautical Waterproof Case for Samsung Galaxy S21
What We Like
  • Great 12-foot drop protection

  • Grippy sides

  • Fingerprint unlock compatible

What We Don't Like
  • Limited colour options

Samsung Galaxy S21 owners with an active lifestyle will appreciate the protection and peace of mind that Ghostek’s Nautical case brings to the table, making sure that your flagship smartphone is safe from splashes, dunks, and even drops, while not getting in the way of your phone’s cameras. This means you’ll still be able to take great photos and videos—even underwater.

Ghostek Nautical is rated to keep your Galaxy S21 safe and dry at depths of up to 20 feet underwater for a full hour, while also offering military-grade drop and shockproof protection from heights of up to 12 feet. You probably won’t need to worry all that much about dropping it in the first place, though, thanks to the anti-slip hand grip. The extra camera lens and flash are protected by a raised bezel, and of course like most waterproof cases a built-in screen protector covers the super-AMOLED display, yet it doesn’t block the fingerprint recognition feature. Wireless charging and wireless PowerShare are also fully supported without the need to remove the case. 

Best for iPhone SE: Lifeproof FRĒ Waterproof Case for iPhone SE

Lifeproof Fre waterproof case for iPhone SE (2020)
What We Like
  • Water and drop protection

  • Touch ID compatible

  • Slim and light design

What We Don't Like
  • Can be a bit tricky to get properly sealed

Apple’s budget-friendly iPhone SE offers some water resistance, but it’s not truly waterproof, so if you plan to take it on your outdoor adventures, you’ll definitely want to add a case like Lifeproof’s FRĒ, which not only lets you submerge it in up to 2 metres of water for up to an hour, but also protects against drops of up to 6.6 feet. 

FRĒ offers full 360-degree protection against not only water, but also dirt, snow, and debris, while adding as little extra bulk as possible. This means you’ll still be able to use your iPhone SE in style while having the confidence of knowing that it’s safe against everything nature will be throwing at you. The front screen protector on the front is barely perceptible, defending against scratches without getting in the way of touch sensitivity. You also still get full access to all the buttons, including the Touch ID sensor, and it won’t get in the way of your ability to take great pictures either. 

Best for Google Pixel 5: Lanheim IP68 Waterproof Case for Google Pixel 5

Lanheim IP68 Waterproof Case for Google Pixel 5
What We Like
  • Slim design

  • Adds drop protection

  • Full fingerprint sensor compatibility

What We Don't Like
  • Narrow opening blocks some third-party wired chargers

Good waterproof cases for Google’s Pixel 5 can be hard to find, but fortunately Lanheim has you covered with its IP68-certified waterproof case designed specifically with Google’s flagship smartphone in mind. The lightweight case offers both great water protection and drop resistance, so you’ll be covered whether you’re simply taking your Pixel to the beach or heading out on a river-rafting adventure. 

The compact and lightweight design features TPU material with a hard plastic frame that won’t bulk up your phone, yet you still get full-body protection against water, dust, and even drops of up to 6 feet. Your phone will be able to go into 2 metres of water for up an hour, but can actually handle even deeper dives of up to 20 feet for shorter periods of time. The built-in screen protector guards against scratches and dirt, while still offering great touch sensitivity and support for fingerprint authentication. The clear back cover also lets you show off your Pixel. Best of all, it’s easy to install or take off, so you won’t have to keep your phone trapped in the case when you don’t need the same level of protection. 

Best Budget: Vansky Floatable Waterproof Phone Case

What We Like
  • Fits smartphones of all sizes

  • Floats

  • Supports wired headphones

What We Don't Like
  • Internal headphone wire can't be removed

Cases that are specially designed for your particular smartphone tend to be a bit pricey, but the good news is that generic cases offer some great options for those who don’t want to spend a lot, and among budget cases, Vansky’s Floatable Waterproof Case is hard to beat for its price. 

To be fair, it’s less of a case and more of a pouch, but that just means that it will support almost any smartphone you can throw at it, from Apple’s 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. It’s capable of keeping your phone dry at depths of up to 100 feet for up to 30 minutes, although that should rarely be necessary since the case also floats. This makes it a great option for activities like boating and rafting where there’s a risk that your expensive smartphone could end up going overboard. Despite the pouch design, however, it still offers full touchscreen functionality, and there’s an external audio jack, so you can plug in a set of wired headphones while your phone remains securely protected inside the case. 

Best Universal: Kona Submariner Waterproof Phone Case

What We Like
  • Universal compatibility

  • Heavy duty construction

  • Enough room for other slim objects

What We Don't Like
  • Not compatible with fingerprint sensors

One of the great things about a universal waterproof case like Kona’s Submariner is that it fits just about any smartphone, so you don’t have to buy a new one when you eventually upgrade. Plus, you can also more easily share it with friends and family who need some extra protection. 

Kona’s Submariner can handle any smartphone of up to 6.3 inches in length, so it’s more than capable of handling all but the very biggest smartphones, while also keeping your phone dry at depths of up to 100 feet. A super-strong welded seam ensures that it stays closed on even the most extreme outdoor adventures, and the crystal clear design and touch sensitivity means that you’ll also have no problem taking great photos—even underwater. As an added bonus, there’s also enough room inside the pouch to also stash a hotel key, credit card, or some emergency cash, so you can leave your wallet behind when you’re out enjoying the fun and sun at your favourite resort. 

Best Multifunction: Joto Universal Waterproof Case

What We Like
  • Universal compatibility

  • Enough extra room for a slim wallet

  • Included neck strap

What We Don't Like
  • Included lanyard isn't ideal for rigorous activities

Those who want to travel light will want to take a look at Joto’s Universal Waterproof Case, which not only provides full waterproof protection for just about any smartphone, but leaves enough room left over inside for credit cards, cash, or even a slim wallet. This makes it a great option for adventure vacations where you’d rather leave most of your stuff back at your hotel. 

The Joto case is capable of handling any smartphone with screens of up to 6.9 inches, which basically means you’ll be fine using it with everything but the most massive phablets. The clear window on both the front and the back passed through touch controls and take great photos and videos on your excursions. The simple snap and lock design also makes it effortless to take your phone in and out of the case while still ensuring that it’s protected against water, dust, snow, sand, and dirt. It also includes a neck strap, so you won’t have to worry about figuring out how to carry it while hanging out at the beach or by the pool. 

Best Floating: CaliCase Universal Waterproof Floating Case

What We Like
  • Universal compatibility

  • Designed to float

  • Available in lots of fun colors

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't fit "Max" or "Ultra" sized phones

While it’s great to have a case that can protect your smartphone against a hundred feet of water, that’s not going to do much good if you can’t easily recover it from the bottom of a river. So, if you’re into boating, rafting, or kayaking, what you really need is a case that won’t go underwater in the first place, and that’s where CaliCase’s Universal Waterproof Floating Case comes in. 

As the name implies, CaliCase is designed to float if it ends up going into the water. It still offers up to 100 feet of water protection for up to 30 minutes, but there’s an excellent chance you’ll never need to worry about that, since the built-in foam padding make sure that it always comes back to the top. There’s also a dual-layer PVC plastic construction so make sure the case will last, and double-side clear windows, so you can still use your phone and take pictures without having to remove it from the case. As an added bonus, it’s also available in a whole assortment of fun colours, and it fits all common sizes of smartphones.

Best for Underwater Photography: Willbox Professional Diving Case

AlCase Universal Waterproof Diving Case
What We Like
  • Camera grip and shutter button for easy photo capture

  • Standard threaded tripod mount

  • Rugged and durable build

What We Don't Like
  • Not designed for everyday use

Modern flagship smartphones like the iPhone 12 Pro Max to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra pack in some fantastic cameras, but if you want to use them to take stunning underwater photos you’ll want to get a case like the Willbox Professional Diving Case. It’s a case that’s ideal for everything from diving and snorkelling to skiing and surfing, but what it’s really designed to do is turn your smartphone into an underwater camera. 

This sturdy housing not only protects your smartphone at depths of up to 50 feet, but it also includes an external shutter release button and camera grip to help you snap photos with ease. There’s even a standard threaded tripod mount on the bottom, so you can attach your phone to professional underwater photography equipment. While the hard screen protector offers extra durability against underwater damage, it blocks enough of the touchscreen capabilities that this isn’t really a case for daily use; rather, it’s the type of case you put on before going on a dive and take off when you’re done. 

Final Verdict

iPhone 12 users will appreciate the great protection offered by Catalyst’s Total Protection Case, while users of Samsung’s Galaxy S21 flagships should consider Ghostek’s Nautical for their protection needs. If you’re just looking for something cheap and cheerful, however, Vansky’s floatable waterproof case will get the job done for just about any smartphone. 

About Our Trusted Experts

Jesse Hollington is a tech journalist with 15 years of experience writing about technology, and has used, tested, and reviewed hundreds of iPhone cases dating back to the original iPhone, having previously served as Editor-in-Chief for iLounge. Jesse has also authored books on the iPod and iTunes and has published product reviews, editorials, and how-to articles on Forbes, Yahoo, The Independent, and iDropNews.

FAQs

Why do I need a waterproof case when my phone is already waterproof?
Most smartphones are water-resistant, not necessarily waterproof. This means that they’ll generally handle being temporarily dunked in the water, but all bets are off if they go over the side of your boat. Further, even though their phones promise to be water resistant, companies like Apple and Samsung won’t cover them under warranty if any water damage is detected. A waterproof case will not only offer much better water protection—often to 10 times more depth—but they can also guard against drops, scuffs, and scratches. 

Can I go scuba diving with a waterproof case?
The short answer is yes, providing you have a waterproof case that’s certified to the depth that you plan to dive—and how long you plan to be under. Many of the best waterproof cases are good for submersion in up to 100 metres of water, but you’ll want to read the fine print to see how long they’re designed to be under for. Since some cases are only designed to protect your smartphone from accidentally dropping it in the water, they’re not necessarily targeted toward long-term underwater use, so if you plan to take your phone down with you, make sure you get a waterproof case that’s built for it.

What do these IP ratings mean?
IP, or “Ingress Protection” codes, refer to how well an enclosure is sealed against foreign particles and moisture. They’re expressed by the letters “IP” followed by two numbers, such as “IP68.” The first number represents how well a case is protected against solid particles like dust and dirt, while the second digit is used for protection against water and other liquids. The higher each number, the better the protection, but it’s important to note that the scale typically maxes out at IP68, which means a case is totally dust-tight, and offers a minimum of protection against immersion in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. This means that the level of protection offered by IP68 cases and enclosures can vary greatly, so always make sure to check the specific protection levels offered by each case. 

What to Look for in a Waterproof Phone Case

Compatibility: Waterproof cases come in two general styles—those that are designed for specific smartphone models and “universal” cases that can fit several models. It’s obviously not hard to determine compatibility for model-specific cases, but when buying a universal case you’ll want to make sure that it not only fits your phone in terms of size, but also that it passes through all the necessary buttons, ports, and other functions that you may want to use while it’s in the case. 

Versatility: If you’re planning on using a waterproof case while on vacation or even just a day at the beach, it’s handy to get one that can also replace your wallet by allowing you to store a few other important items, such as the card key for your hotel room, or a little emergency cash. 

Floatability: Protecting your phone against deep water doesn’t really help if you can’t get it back after it goes into the lake, so if you’re into activities like boating, kayaking, or rafting, you’ll want to look for a floatable case. These generally offer good depth protection too, but chances are you’ll never need it because your phone will simply float back to the surface, where you can easily scoop it up and carry on. 

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