Mobile Devices

February 28, 2013

Waterproof Phones - Hurry Up Already!

I've been tantalized for more than a year about the prospect of owning a cell phone that is, if not fully submersible, at least waterproof enough to stand an accidental drop into the sink or able to be carried to the pool or beach without fearing a wave or splash putting it out of business. Sure, there are waterproof cases and heavy duty bags and even plastic bags in a pinch, but there are multiple technologies available to simply waterproof the phone during the manufacturing process. Why are handset companies taking so long to take a simple step to "add value?"

At Mobile World Congress (MWC), Liquipel has unveiled a turnkey solution for retailers to coat an off-the-shelf mobile device with its Liquipel WaterSafe "super-hydrophobic" nanocoating. The solution, dubbed the Liquipod Tower, is a self-contained unit that includes a kiosk cabinet, operator station, Liquipod machine and retail storage space.   Basically, you pull your battery out of your phone, stick your phone in the cabinet, close the lid, press a button and a couple minutes later your phone is waterproofed. The Guardian says the post-market cost to do this is $60 and the company plans to a store locator on its website.

A Liquipod Tower can coat any mobile device from a pocket cell phone all the way up to a standard laptop, so if you to use your iPad next to the pool, you may want to look at this as an option before the summer starts.

P2i, another "patented" nanotech process to waterproof devices, is working directly with OEMs. It announced relationships with Motorola and TCL, as well as unveiled its Dunkable technology at MWC to enable devices to meet an IPx7 water protection standard. IPx7 means you should be able to put your cell phone in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of one meter, so you should be able to (in theory) take pictures while splashing around in the shallow end or while playing in the breakers.

Huawei has figured out that waterproofing is a Good Thing, featuring it on its forthcoming Ascend G350 low-cost handset. The phone is certified to IP68 weatherproofing, which includes resistance against water and dust. Huawei expected to ship it in the middle of the year and it will be targeted at the "affordable" range of buyers. 

It will be interesting how Huawei's Ascend G350 squares off against Nokia's Lumina 301 feature phone. The Lumina 301 is priced at $86 and designed to have 39 days (yes, days) of standby life on a 3G network -- perfect for developing markets in Africa and Asia. However, Nokia's low-budget phone isn't hardened against the weather; what good is a low-cost phone if it gets rained on?

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli

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