Liquipel Review: Can You Waterproof A Smartphone?

Liquid and technology don't mix. Whether you were pushed into a pool while blackout drunk or just dropped a device in the toilet (ew), your phone has a slim chance of recovery. A new service though wants to save you from the despair that goes along with toilet fishing by making sure you're phone can live to tell the disgusting tale. It's called Liquipel, and we've been testing it out.

What Is It?

Liquipel is a process that aims to protect your device, both inside and out, from liquid damage.

The process sees your smartphone stuck into a vacuum chamber and bathed in a vapourised cloud that will protect your phone from liquid. The phone then dries in the chamber and it's then ready to face the world. Because it's treated with vapour, it permeates every nook and cranny of your device, meaning liquid won't wander in and ruin it. Theoretically then, your phone should be protected from spills.

It only costs $99 to get yourself protected against liquid and there are only certain phones that support the process. But does it actually work?

The Liquid Test

We got a phone from Liquipel that had been subjected to the treatment and were encouraged to dunk it and see if it survived. 'All good,' I thought. 'Let's do it,' thinking that they'd send us a smartphone from yesteryear to test. I opened the Liquipel box to find a shiny, new Samsung Galaxy S III that had supposedly been liquid-proofed. These people were confident.

It didn't look any different from a normal S III, inside or out. It feels so foreign to subject a phone — let along such a nice phone — to water, but that was my mission.

I buffered a video from YouTube for effect and sent the S III on its way, down to the depths of a Brita water jug. Poor thing. It didn't stand a chance.

A few moments passed and the trailer was still buffering, still playing and still pumping out sounds. Bubbles were emerging from in-between the unit, so it was well and truly flooded, but nothing stopped it from playing. The trailer finished, and my phone rang. I pulled it out, answered it and had a chat, and the phone worked perfectly.

After hanging up our test call, I put the phone back on my desk, and that's when it started misbehaving. Liquipel say that you're not meant to leave the phone immersed in water for longer than 30 seconds. It had been almost a minute in our case. It also says not to drop the phone vertically, or shake it once you pull it out. We had done both. We had to stress test it after all.

The phone went wild, opening its own menus, locking and unlocking itself, dialling numbers. It was a catastrophe.

Liquipel recommend that once a phone is removed from immersion that you remove the battery and dry the internal components and it advises against charging it for 24 hours. We left the components separated for 24 hours and upon putting it back together, the phone restarted, worked and behaved itself like it should again.

You would have never known that it had been subjected to a life-threatening experience just a day before.

Should You Buy It?

Liquipel isn't meant for show-offs. It's meant as an insurance policy against accidental liquid exposure that would otherwise see your phone off to technology heaven. It's not a device you can dunk in a beer to show off to your friends, for example. For that, you probably want the Sony Xperia go.

If you've got $99 to spare after you buy your new smartphone, it's worth insuring it doesn't die from an liquid accident.

Watch the (focus-failing) video to see our Liquipel test.


Comments

    Well I thought I should get as well until I read their fine print. You are meant to do stuff u do if u didnt have it on + exclusion criteria + limited liability + $99. I ve decided the same $99 for apple care, I do the same precautions after water damage, turn it off, dry it, rice/moisture absorber chamber. If phone doesn't make it or makes it out partially then take it to apple store for a new one(refurbished) for free. My brand new iPhone 4S last year cried incompatible accessory when it was wet !!! However 24 hrs later with some hard work it was working well except the power button. But even without the apple care I got it replaced for free. The water sensor had gone off but I could convince the genius it wasn't my fault.

    Having said that out of warranty repair for all iPhones in apple store is only $250 which includes you accidentally running it over by ur X5!!!

      $250!! You say that like it is a bargain. For that money I could buy a brand new Lumia 710, 4 months worth of Zune subscription and all the paid apps I have on my current Lumia. Even the insurance telcos offer with phone plans is way better value than that - a few bucks a month and $150 excess if you need to make a claim. No wonder so many iPhone owners are happy to put up with a cracked screen.

        Yup, you get what you pay for MM, in your case, not a very good phone or service, but its a personal choice

        The $250 is if you don't have any sort of cover and your phone is in a million pieces which you have got on a bag. Tell me who offers a better deal for a completely smashed phone?

        Lets say you have a brand new lumia 930 just got dead with water damage. You take it to your telco you pay the $150 excess that you quoted. Compare it with some one who has apple care. $99 upfront. You submerge it into water or accidentally break it. Take it to apple store. Refurbished phone ON THE SPOT. No excess. You may consider it as a bad deal MotorMouth. Not me. Thanks.

          I like how you're so pro-Apple because so am I but you're definitely wrong about how things work at an Apple store.

          If you liquid damage your phone, whether you're in warranty or not, you're looking at $179 for a replacement iPhone 4, 3gs, 3g or $229 for a replacement iPhone 4S. Simple as that. Liquid damage = out of warranty = paid replacement. AppleCare makes no difference.

          Furthermore, an iPhone that's been reduced to "a million pieces" wouldn't be swapped for a remanufactured unit. Someone at the genius bar should deny service to a phone that's beyond economical repair.

    A proper link to the site at the bottom of the article would be nice.

    Liquipel -> Luk Hopewel

    Wish my nexus 7 was on the approved items to be treated.

      You're willing to spend a good 30-35% of your device's ticket price just to waterproof it? Just how often are you expecting to get soaked with one?

        Are you willing to risk having to buy an entirely new phone unsubsidized if you have a drink spilled on your phone? Also LordBlueRay they will still treat it, it's just not been tested and "certified", I had my HP Touchpad done and it works great

    Finally we'll see a return to the era where we didn't have to be terrified of a playful push into the pool.

    "Liquipel say that you’re not meant to leave the phone immersed in water for longer than 30 seconds. It had been almost a minute in our case."

    Then in what way is this a test of the actual product? Pointless

      Wow, such a critic. It was still a decent test as it proved the product exceeded expectations.

    Extended warranty? How could I lose! "Quote Homer Simpson"

    Their website:

    http://www.liquipel.com.au/

    ...and a couple of the numerous clauses in their warranty that violates Australian consumer laws:

    "We do not warrant that the coating of your device will work perfectly or that it will work under all conditions."

    "We are not responsible for any damage which may occur to your device"

      And some testing by Choice:

      http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/electronics/phones-and-mobile-devices/mobile-phones/liquipel-treatment.aspx

      So there you have it. Pay your $99, but don't expect it to actually work.

    This is a far better option than insurance for someone who deals with water on a regular basis, like a plumber. We have had to replace so many phones of my husbands, simply because there is no way of stopping water (and other liquid substances) from splashing. If you also live in an area known for flooding then you pretty soon realise that you can't control rainfall either.

    Who's s3??

    Congratulations!! They've been nominated for a Choice Magazine annual award.....the Shonky. Disappointed if they don't win.

    http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/awards/shonky-awards/shonkys/the-2012-shonky-awards/page/liquipel.aspx

    Yes they have won the shonkies!

    Liquipel does not work:

    http://www.choice.com.au/reviews-and-tests/awards/shonky-awards/shonkys/the-2012-shonky-awards/page/liquipel.aspx

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