When you imagine the beach, you probably think of these three things: sun, water, and sand.
While those elements are nothing but fun for both our bodies and minds in moderation, they're havoc for our mobile devices. So, if you're an avid beach goer or are planning to take a tropical family vacation sometime this summer, it's important to bring a smartphone with sturdy dust- and water-proofing features. You know - the kind of phones mountain-climbers tend to pack into their rucksacks.
That said, thanks to advances in modern technology, some flagship smartphones have certified IP ratings, meaning you don't need to buy some random, heavy-duty device just for the beach. You could just bring your day-to-day Android smartphone, as long as it is one of the following...
What is an IP rating?
The International Electrotechnical Commission developed an Ingress Protection rating system - also known as IP - in order to classify different degrees of protection against intrusion or immersion. So, when Sony announces it has a "waterproof" or "dustproof" device, meaning it is resistant to water and dust damage, the IP rating will tell you for sure how well it can withstand dust or water.
An IP rating is typically followed by two digits. The first represents the level of dust resistance (levels go from 0 to 6), while the second represents water resistance (levels go from 0 to 9). The higher the level number, the better the protection. Also, if there is no protection rating with regard to one of the criteria, the digit is replaced with the letter X, but that doesn't mean there is zero protection.
Since you're going to the beach, where the ocean has water and the beach is covered in sandy dust, you'll want a device with a high IP rating. It's okay to have an X in the rating as well. Got it? Let's continue...
Which Android phones can survive the beach?
In this piece, we will discuss eight Android phones with adequate IP ratings for the beach. These aren't all the phones you can buy; only a selection. We hope to do a similar version of this story for Windows phones in the future. As for the latest iPhones, they aren't beach-ready.
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 3
The Galaxy Xcover 3 is Samsung’s first water resistant smartphone for 2015. It has a IP67 rating, which means it is totally protected against dust and is protected against the effect of water immersion between 15cm and 1 metre, and it has a military-grade protective body. The Xcover 3 went on sale in Europe earlier this year and is now available in the US for about $300.
Read more: Best smartphones to look forward to in 2015
Samsung Galaxy S6 Active and S5 Sport
As variant of the 2015 Samsung Galaxy S6, the $200 Galaxy S6 Active has similar specs, but it also features a more rugged, shock-proof design along with a top-of-the-line IP68 rating. If you want something that is a little less angular or cheaper, last year's Galaxy S5 Sport has a IP67 rating as well as a MIL-spec 810G rating, which means it can handle extreme temperature, humidity, and altitude.
Read more: Samsung's Galaxy S6 Active is official
Sony Xperia Z3
Most of Sony's Xperia phones are beach-ready. The £549 Xperia Z3 is last year's flagship from Sony, and it has a rating of IP65/IP68. According to Sony, it gets two ratings because it complies with two different waterproofing standards. Sony says the Xperia Z3 is protected against dust and can withstand low pressure jets from all angles as well as 30 minutes underwater up to 1.5-metres deep.
Read more: Sony Xperia Z3 review
Kyocera Brigadier and Torque
The £260 Brigadier was the first affordable handset to sport a Sapphire crystal display, which is second only to diamonds in its level of mineral hardness, so it is incredibly durable. The Brigadier has a rating of IPX8, guaranteeing it is waterproof up to 1.8 metres of water for long periods of immersion. It's also dustproof, endorsed by Bear Grylls, and resistant against blowing rain, salt fog, and humidity.
Kyocera also has new Torque smartphone that recently unveiled in Europe. It promises to be tough enough to withstand any abuse you can throw at it. It offers military grade durability, thanks to military-standard 810G grading, and is waterproof to 1.5-metres for 30 minutes. It's also dustproof, shock proof for a 1.2-metre drop at 26 angles, solar resistant, and vibration resistant.
Cat B15Q and S50
The £299 Cat B15Q is a tough phone made for any situation, thanks to its IP67 rating and military-spec 810G durability rating. It is dust proof, scratch resistant, and can withstand temperatures from -25 degrees Celcius to 55. It can even withstand a 1.8 metre drop onto concrete and sit under water for half an hour. The newer Cat S50 has the same rating but costs £350.