Mobile phones come with plenty of nice features nowadays. In fact, you can use them for pretty much everything, from texting and calling to game playing and internet surfing. The only thing you can't do is use them in the bath. Until now. It used to be that dropping your mobile in a puddle, a river, the bath or even the toilet was a disaster. And not only would you irreparably damage your hand set (and void the warranty in the process) but you stood a good chance of damaging your SIM card too, and losing all those precious contact numbers and text messages. However, phones have come a long way. There are now plenty of phones that can be dropped in the bath and live to tell the tale. Today we're talking about waterproof mobiles, what you need to know before you buy, and which models are the best. So if you're a little clumsy, then keep reading to find out how you can get a rugged model.

Who Needs a Waterproof Phone?

All joking aside (not that many people use their phones in the bath), rugged smart phones are a real market niche. In general, they're aimed at the adventure sport market. People who like caving or kayaking, for example, often want to take a phone with them for safety purposes, and having a device that's waterproof means that they're more likely to be able to contact the help they need if an accident should happen. But rugged phones are also marketed towards people with outdoor professions. People like construction workers or land workers often want a waterproof phone that won't be damaged by rain. There is of course a benefit to the more accident prone amongst us too.

What's an IP Rating?

A rugged, survival or waterproof model will come with an IP rating. This is a two digit number preceded by the letters IP, as in IP67, for example. This is a way of rating how rugged a phone actually is. The first digit refers to how dust proof a phone is. On a scale of zero to six, where zero is not dust proof at all and six is completely dust proof, the first number tells you whether or not particles can get inside your phone. The second number tells you how waterproof a phone is, this time on a scale of zero to eight. Zero on the scale means that the phone is not waterproof at all, whilst an eight means that the phone can be submerged in depths over one metre for an undetermined amount of time. Very few phones, other than real military models, get an eight on the waterproof scale. Most phones get a seven, which means that they can be submersed in water up to a metre deep for at least thirty minutes. For the majority of people, this is more than waterproof enough.

The Disadvantage of Waterproof Phones...

The big disadvantage is that they tend not to be very feature laden. This is changing, with more and more rugged varieties coming out with good specs. You can absolutely buy a rugged, waterproof smart model. However, don't expect to see top end features on it. Due to the necessary quality of the build and materials used in a rugged phone, these phones tend to be expensive, though they're not quite as pricey as top end smart phones.

The Best Brands...

As far as branding goes, you've got a few choices. The big makers of really tough phones are JCB (yes, the same company that makes construction equipment) and CAT. However, regular manufacturers also make rugged phones, including Samsung and Sony.

Best High End Model: The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2

When it comes to the best and most feature packed model on the market, it's got to be the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2. You get a full touch screen Android phone, running Android's top of the range 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system. You also get massive five inch screen and a 5 MP camera to boot. As far as processing power and internal memory go, the Xcover 2 is pretty middle of the road when compared to regular smart phones, but compared to other survival phones it is top class. Basically, it's just a mid-range smart phone that happens to have a full IP 67 rating. It doesn't come cheap, but if you want full features in a rugged shell, then the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 is going to be the best model for you.

The Best Budget Buy: The Motorola Defy+

If the Xcover is a little pricey for you, then you might want to look at the Motorola Defy+, which comes in at under two hundred pounds. You still get the Android operating system, though this time it's the slightly older Android 2.3 Gingerbread version and a full touch screen as well. Plus you get a massive (for a survival phone) 1 GHz of processing power, so it's a fast little device too. But one of the main selling points of the Defy+ has got to be its battery power. It has great battery conservation, and a charge can last for weeks in standby mode. If you're taking this phone out into the mountains, far away from an electricity supply, then battery power has got to be one of the main things you're looking for. Plus, you get all this for just £190. Not bad at all.

Other Models...

There are some other notable models that you can keep an eye out for. The Sony Xperia Go isn't marketed as a survival phone, but it is completely scratch resistant and waterproof, coming with an IP67 rating. Then there's the JCB Toughphone Pro-Smart TP909, which is one of the toughest phones on the market. Finally, if you're looking for top of the range, the Sony Xperia Z is, again, not marketed as a survival model but is completely waterproof.