Axis Go in the water

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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 like to take photos in the water, there’s a waterproof case out there that will fit your needs.

Waterproof cases come in a wide range of options, some intended for daily use, while others are designed specifically for shooting in or under water photos. As an avid surfer, standup paddler, and diver, I constantly find myself in the water, so I wanted something to protect my phone on the daily as well as a more substantial case for when I wanted to test my hand at surf and underwater photography.

Back in the day, if you wanted to get into water photography, you’d have to take the plunge on an expensive camera and waterproof housing. Luckily, waterproof phone cases and housings present a much more cost-effective method for trying in-water photography before you go all in, and as phone cameras continue to close the gap on professional cameras, they can even be a longer-term solution for the casual water photographer. Although some phones these days are waterproof, they arent reliable for long periods of submersion. Luckily, there are some solid phone cases specifically made for in-water photography that will keep your phone safe and allow you to capture all the action.

To learn more about how all these waterproof phone cases stack up against one of another 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

Lifeproof Fre phone case

Best for Everyday Use

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

Waterproof: 5
Ease of Use: 3
Depth Rating: 2
Clarity: 4
Overall: 3.5/5

LifeProofs 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 doesnt work while underwater. I like this case because it keeps my phone safe at all times, but its better suited for photos from the boat when you need something to protect your phone from the occasional splash. If youre looking for a case for in-water photography, its possible with the LifeProof FRE, but isnt the most reliable option.


Joto waterproof phone case

Best Budget

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

Waterproof: 4
Ease of Use: 4
Depth Rating: 2
Clarity: 3
Overall: 3.25/5

Jotos 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 its rated waterproof to 100 feet, though I probably wouldn’t take it that deep. You are able to use your touch screen through the pouch but if youre looking to take photos underwater, youll need to use the volume button as the touch screen doesnt work while underwater.

I have yet to have any issues with the case, but Id 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 its designed to be fully submerged, but at $10, Im a little skeptical of how reliable it actually is. The photo clarity will also be somewhat affected. For the price, its a great option for ensuring your phone stays safe should you encounter rain or splashing while youre using it, or if your phone is already waterproof and you just want some added security.


AxisGo Phone Water Housing

Best For Photography

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

Waterproof: 5
Ease of Use: 5
Depth Rating: 4
Clarity: 5
Overall: 4.75/5

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 youre 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 which helps create stunning over/underwater shots I’m a big fan of both accessories. Overall, this case felt super reliable, was easy to use, and created awesome shots. Im excited to continue using it and improving at in-water and underwater photography.


ProShot waterproof phone case

Easiest to Use

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

Waterproof: 5
Ease of Use: 4
Depth Rating: 4
Clarity: 4
Overall: 4.25/5

The ProShot Touch case has everything I 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 youre good to go. The touch screen doesnt 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 I 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 Im sure Ill get better at using it with time, but it caused me 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.


SeaLife SportDiver phone case

Best for Diving

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

Waterproof: 5
Ease of Use: 3
Depth Rating: 5
Clarity: 5
Overall: 4.5/5

Although the price is a little steep, SeaLifes SportDiver case is the most advanced case Ive come across. The case fits most Android and iPhone models and is waterproof to 130 feet, so its 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 I 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, its a little heavy for surf photography and doesnt include a handle, so you need a firm grip on it at all times. Overall, I was impressed with the different features the case offered and by the quality of photos it allows for.


Willbox diving case

Most Affordable Diving Case

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

Waterproof: 5
Ease of Use: 4
Depth Rating: 4
Clarity: 5
Overall: 4.5/5

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

How We Tested

As I mentioned, I’m an avid waterwoman and spend a lot of time in the ocean. I surf, standup paddle, freedive, and scuba dive, and while I like to go sans technology most of the time, there are days when I want to to capture the action. To test out these cases, I paddled out while my buddies surfed and snapped away. I also took the plunge under the sea and took these cases scuba diving and freediving to see how they held up at depth. For the less substantial cases, like the Lifeproof and Joto, I simply stored my phone in them for flat water paddles and tested their waterproofing.

Snorkeler underwater

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

What Makes A Good Waterproof Phone Case?

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

If the phone case isnt waterproof, it’s not doing its job. My phone is a staple in both my work and social life, so I really dont want my phone to get water damage. I need a case I can rely on.

Ease of Use
I am not tech savvy. I want to be able to take good photos in the water, but I dont want to spend hours trying to figure out how to work my new case. It needs to be self explanatory and easy to use in the water so I dont miss the shot.


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. I dont need a case that can make it to the bottom of the ocean, but I want something that can withstand a little pressure so I 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.

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, below, 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 case, below has one you can buy separately.

If you’ve ever tried to tap a screen with water on it, you’ll know what I’m 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.

Editors Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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