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Axis Go in the water

AquaTech’s AxisGo lets you take high-quality photos from in the water. Photo: AquaTech

The Inertia

If you spend a lot of time on, in, or near the water, a waterproof phone case is a great investment. Whether you’re prone to dropping your phone, want to take it into the water with you for sports like paddle boarding, or want to get into water photography, there’s a waterproof case out there that will fit your needs.

Although some phones these days are waterproof, they often aren’t reliable for long periods of submersion. Luckily, there are some solid phone cases specifically made for in-water use that will keep your phone safe and allow you to capture all the action, track your activities, or keep in touch with friends and family while on the water.

We tested a wide variety of waterproof phone cases, some intended for daily or casual use, and others intended for in-water photography, both at the surface, and down to the limits of scuba depth at 130 feet deep. To learn more about how all these waterproof phone cases stack up against one of an2other check out our Comparison Table. If you’re wondering what to look for in a good waterproof phone case, scope our Buyer’s Guide.

What Are the Best Waterproof Phone Cases?

Best for Everyday Use: LifeProof FRE
Best Budget:
Joto Waterproof Phone Pouch
Best for Photography:
Easiest to Use: ProShot Touch
Best For Diving:
SeaLife SportDiver
Best Budget Diving Case:
Willbox Diving Case

Best for Everyday Use

LifeProof FRE ($60)

Lifeproof Fre phone case

Pros: Slim design, 360-degree protection
Cons: Tricky to take photos while underwater, can only be underwater for limited time

Depth Rating: 6.5 feet

LifeProof’s FRE case is designed for everyday use and is durable enough to withstand an adventurous lifestyle. The FRE case features 360-degree protection with a built-in screen cover that seals it from dirt, dust, snow, and ice. The phone is submersible for two meters for an hour, so you can definitely take it in the water, you just have to watch your time and depth.

Although all of the phone features work while inside the case, it takes a little extra effort to text and take photos with the touch screen but it doesn’t work while underwater. We like this case because it keeps our phone safe at all times, but it’s better suited for photos from the boat when you need something to protect your phone from the occasional splash. If you’re looking for a case for in-water photography, it’s possible with the LifeProof FRE, but isn’t the most reliable option.


Best Budget

Joto Waterproof Phone Pouch ($10)

Joto waterproof phone case

Pros: Cheap, simple
Cons: Compromised clarity for photos, reliability is questionable

Depth Rating: 100 feet

Joto’s waterproof phone pouch is one of the simplest designs out there, but surprisingly effective. The design is sort of like a high-tech Ziplock bag and it’s rated waterproof to 100 feet, though we probably wouldn’t take it that deep. You are able to use your touch screen through the pouch but if you’re looking to take photos underwater, you’ll need to use the volume button as the touch screen doesn’t work while underwater.

We have yet to have any issues with the case, but we’d personally use it as more of a water-resistant option to take photos from the boat or in the splash zone, rather than fully submerging it – it’s designed to be fully submerged, but at $10, we’re a little skeptical of how reliable it actually is. The photo clarity will also be somewhat affected. For the price, it’s a great option for ensuring your phone stays safe should you encounter rain or splashing while you’re using it, or if your phone is already waterproof and you just want some added security.


Best For Photography

AxisGo ($200)

AxisGo Phone Water Housing

Pros: Touchscreen access, lots of accessories
Cons: Designed for iPhones specifically

Depth Rating: 33 feet

Designed specifically for iPhones, the AxisGo is all about keeping your phone protected while allowing for the perfect shot. To use, you simply place your phone in the case, snap the secure locking clip, and you’re ready to go. The phone case provides full touchscreen access, allowing you to use photo apps, take selfies, and instantly share your shots with contacts. The case is depth rated to 33 feet, so in addition to surf photography you can take it on shallow dives. The AxisGo has compatible accessories available for purchase, including a Bluetooth pistol grip which allows users to take photos with the click of a button and a dome port which helps create stunning over/underwater shots – we’re a big fan of both accessories. Overall, this case felt super reliable, was easy to use, and created awesome shots. We’re excited to continue using it and improving at in-water and underwater photography.


Easiest to Use

ProShot Touch ($120)

ProShot waterproof phone case

Pros: Easy to use, wrist strap
Cons: App can be finicky

Depth Rating: 50 feet

The ProShot Touch case has everything we want in a waterproof phone case with an easy-to-use design. To use the case, you simply slip in your phone, lock the case, and you’re good to go. The touch screen doesn’t work while underwater, but the case comes with a compatible app and once you download it, you can easily switch from photo to video while in the water.

The only challenge we had while taking photos was that the app kept switching to sleep mode and then would take a couple of seconds to get back in focus – we’re sure we’ll get better at using it with time, but it caused us to miss a few shots. The case comes with a floating hand grip and a wrist strap, which made it much easier to swim and take photos. Despite being one of the smaller and seemingly simpler cases, the ProShot case is waterproof to 50 feet, so you can easily take it on a shallow dives in addition to capturing images in the surf.


Best for Diving

SeaLife SportDiver ($350)

SeaLife SportDiver phone case

Pros: Waterproof to 130 feet, super heavy-duty
Cons: Pricey, trickier to use

Depth Rating: 130 feet

Although the price is a little steep, SeaLife’s SportDiver case is the most advanced case we’ve come across. The case fits most Android and iPhone models and is waterproof to 130 feet, so it’s perfect for scuba, free diving, and surf photography. The heavy-duty case is constructed from Polycarbonate, stainless steel, aluminum and optical grade glass, meaning your phone is ultra-safe. The free app uses Bluetooth and allows you to easily switch between photo and video while underwater and use settings like adjust zoom, exposure (EV), auto/manual focus, white balance, tint, lens selection, RAW and JPEG mode, live photo, and background mode. The advanced camera settings allow you to get creative with your photos and take the best shot possible – we really appreciated the zoom for capturing photos of my friends surfing.

Other thoughtful features include a removable underwater color-correction filter, holding spring and rubber grip tabs to ensure your phone stays securely in place, an anti-fog design, and a dual leak alarm should the waterproof seal be compromised. While this camera is amazing for scuba and takes incredible photos, it’s a little heavy for surf photography and doesn’t include a handle, so you need a firm grip on it at all times. Overall, we were impressed with the different features the case offered and by the quality of photos it allows for.


Most Affordable Diving Case

Willbox Diving Case ($45)

Willbox diving case

Pros: Lanyard attachment, side grip with shutter button
Cons: Can only be used for shallow dives

Depth Rating: 50 feet

Another “universal option,” the Willbox diving case is made to be used with both iPhones and Samsung’s line of Galaxy smartphones. A lanyard attachment provides an added layer of security, and a tripod mount allows you to connect the case to a tripod or a compatible phone pole (for selfies) or a pistol grip. The case also boasts its own side grip with a shutter button, so it’s easy enough to use without added accessories. Rated to 50-feet, the case is a solid option for shallower dives, though if you’re looking to go deeper, you may want to check out the SeaLife case, above.


Comparison Table

Waterproof Phone Case Price Intended Use Depth Rating
AxisGo $200 Surf and shallow dives 33 feet
SeaLife SportDiver $350 Surf, snorkeling, and scuba 130 feet
Willbox Diving Case $45 Surf and shallow dives 50 feet
ProShot Touch $120 Surf and shallow dives 50 feet
LifeProof FRE $70 Everyday 6.5 feet
Joto Waterproof Phone Pouch $10 Splash zone 100 feet

How We Tested

Hailing from Hawaii and California, our lead tester Rebecca Parsons is an avid waterwoman who spends a lot of time in and around the ocean. As a surfer and standup paddler, she’s often in need of some extra waterproof protection for her cell phone whether that’s for casual activities around the water or in training and practicing for her sports. As a freediver, and scuba diver, Rebecca was able to put the hardier cases featured in this review to the ultimate test under the ocean to see how they held up at depth. For the less substantial cases, like the Lifeproof and Joto, she simply stored her phone in them for flat water paddles and tested their waterproofing. For the surf-oriented cases, Rebecca took to the lineup, getting shots of herself and others to test the cases photo clarity and other photography-oriented features.

Snorkeler underwater

Taken with the AxisGo waterproof phone case. Photo: Rebecca Parsons/The Inertia

Ratings Table

Waterproof Phone Case Waterproof Ease of Use Depth Rating Clarity Overall
LifeProof FRE 5 3 2 4 3.5
Joto Waterproof Phone Pouch 4 4 2 3 3.25
AxisGo 5 5 4 5 4.75
ProShot Touch 5 4 4 4 4.25
SeaLife SportDiver 5 3 5 5 4.5
Willbox Diving Case 5 4 4 5 4.5

What Makes A Good Waterproof Phone Case?

For starters, we need a phone case that is fully and reliably waterproof. Additionally, we want a case that is easy to use, works at depth, and takes great photos.

If the phone case isn’t waterproof, it’s not doing its job. Our phone is a staple in both our work and social life, so we really don’t want it to get water damage. We need a case we can rely on.

When a phone case is advertised as “waterproof,” take that with a grain of salt. If it only costs $10, like the Joto Waterproof Phone Pouch you probably don’t want to rely on it being fully submersible for long periods of time. Consider cases like that to be more splash proof than waterproof. But if you’re feeling bold, you do you–it might just work.

phone cases

Taken using the ProShot Touch in Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Rebecca Parsons/The Inertia

Ease of Use
Our tester is not tech savvy. We want to be able to take good photos in the water, but we don’t want to spend hours trying to figure out how to work our new case. It needs to be self explanatory and easy to use in the water so we don’t miss the shot. We also like a compatible app that is easy to use as well.

Best Waterproof Phone Case for Photography
Best Waterproof Phone Case for Photography

Designed specifically for iPhones, the AxisGo is easy to use, has a depth rating of up to 33 feet, provides touchscreen access, and has a wide range of accessories.

Price: $200

Check Price on Amazon

Depth Rating
Some cases are meant for surface level photography, while others are designed for deep submersion and can be used for both scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, and everything in between. We don’t need a case that can make it to the bottom of the ocean, but we want something that can withstand a little pressure so we can at least take it on shallow dives.

Photo Clarity
While your phone might come with an awesome camera, it will only be as good as the case you’re covering it with. Some of the cases above have high-quality, and even anti-reflective, glass covering the camera. Others have lower-quality plastic coverings that will produce decent enough photos, but nothing near professional-quality.

Scuba diver

Taken using the AxisGo phone case. Photo: Rebecca Parsons/The Inertia

What Else Should I Look For in a Waterproof Phone Case?

Some phone cases in this list are universal, meaning they can fit any smartphone within reason (phablets, like the iPhone Max series, can be a different question altogether). Others are designed for a specific brand, or even model, of phone. For example the AxisGo cases are only compatible with iPhones and offer specific cases depending on model. Choose wisely.

For professional surf photography, a pistol grip is the gold standard, letting you dangle your camera over the edge of a wave for a down-the-barrel shot, and providing a secure grip on your precious cargo when the waves get rough. Some of these options come with a grip or have one integrated, others don’t. The AxisGo has one you can buy separately.

If you’ve ever tried to tap a screen with water on it, you’ll know what we’re talking about – it’s frustrating to say the least. And if you’re going to take photos underwater, your touchscreen will be unusable, so you’ll have to rely on either your volume buttons to nail the shot, or a button integrated into the case.

Return to Comparison Table | Return to Top Picks

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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