Video Review: Is a Ziploc Bag as Good as a Waterproof Case for Your Gadget?

We subjected an iPhone to a dunk test in our science pool (read: fish tank) to see if you need to splash out on a pricey waterproof case or if a Ziploc bag will do.

The beach. Water parks. The toilet. These are all places where your beloved iPhone can find itself taking a nasty, warranty-voiding bath. Several items on the market purport to keep your gadgets dry in these situations, but how well do they really work? And do you have to spend a lot to get acceptable water protection?

To find out, we put expensive gadgets into a cheap-o waterproof pouch from Meritline, a slightly less cheap-o DRY-PAK Waterproof Pouch, an OtterBox 2000 Hard Case, and a Ziploc Bag. Then we submerged them in water for varying lengths of time. Each gadget bag took a 10-minute, 30-minute, 1-hour, and overnight dip in our science pool (read: fish tank) to see if they had what it takes to keep the evil water at bay.

So what were our results? Like we'd ever tell you! We'd show you, though! Watch the video for all the answers.

Jeff Somogyi
Contributing Writer

Jeff Somogyi is constantly trying to come up with ways to surprise and delight audiences the world over. He takes humor seriously ... too seriously. (Honestly, we've never seen him laugh ... it's kinda creepy.)
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Great vid. I got a waterproof case on roadeavour. Pretty good quality. I love it.
So this is great and I loved seeing the comparisons, and it's good to know that Ziploc holds up well. However, you just soaked it and didn't actually use it under the water, so I'm curious how well it would work with the camera and touch screen. Also you failed to mention how it would hold up to pressure at depths. Some people have mentioned on other sites that just a little pressure breaks the seal of the bag. I'm super cheap and don't want to spend lots of money on a bag for my phone, but I don't want my phone to break either (obviously).
Cute review, but it fails to address one very important point. It's fine to protect your phone from a casual dunking, but what about taking pictures?

I can tell you from experience that pictures taken through a Ziploc bag or one of the pouch-type cases look like something from a $10 toy camera: smeary, blurry abominations. And if you have to take your phone out of a bag or pouch to take a picture, the chances of it getting wet are a lot greater.

It takes a hard plastic or glass window to get really sharp images. I'm guessing the Otterbox has one. Personally, I use a $30 iContact hard case, and I’ve taken photos and video that look as good as if I'd used no case at all.

Finally, if you're still tempted to go the Ziploc route, remember: those bags are *thin*! The first time you use one, it'll be waterproof. But after your bagged phone has been in and out of your pocket, purse or backpack a few times, that Ziploc bag is going to have folds, wrinkles, and—almost inevitably—micro-leaks.
Every so often I like a little music while taking a shower and a ziplock bag is thin enough to still provide sound however strong enough where steam does not ruin or the "wet sensors" in the iPhone that void the warranty.
It would be awesome if there was a way to keep track of comments on dealnews. It's mighty hard to build a correspondence, much less a community, if one never knows whether someone else has responded to their comment.
I highly recommend the ziplock bag. I have used that to keep my phone safe around different water sources for years and it keeps it safe. And you can't beat the price. Also, the plastic is thin enough that you can use the phone with the bag over it. When it starts to look crappy, just grab a new bag.

If you were worried about it falling out of a boat, put one of those stress balls in the bag with it. That should offer enough flotation.
Jeff Somogyi (DealNews)
It was a straight-up Ziploc - no double-seal or freezer-safe what-nots!
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@zeram1 We were being cheeky, naturally
Louis Ramirez (DealNews)
Audio works for me too. Also, that Otterbox looks massive!
Not all ziplock bags are created equal. Can you specify the bag you used? The double zipper ones are far superior in most all ways.
Ziplock bag "free"? Yeah, if you're a live at (parent's) home slacker, who didn't have to buy them in the first place!
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@usthadh007 Hmm... I'm hearing sound. Maybe it's your speakers?
I can see the video but I can't hear anything..?!