Salt water is very corrosive, and sand can cause serious problems even for military-grade equipment. A day at the beach can spell danger for your electronics, so make sure you take precautions the next time you go out.
Listen to the cheap and cheerful ziplock bag
One of the cheapest hacks is to use a ziplock bag to keep your smartphone safe at the beach. It’s great if you don’t want to buy a bulky and bulky case and need to protect your device from sand, even in windy weather.
You don’t need to take your touchscreen device out of the bag to use it unless you’re making a phone call. If you just want to check your email or send a text, you can, as most capacitive displays continue to be made of a thin plastic film. It’s not fancy, and you may have to hold the bag to keep it tight when using it.
It’s worth keeping a few of these bags in your car or purse if you suddenly decide to take a beach trip. Sand will scratch your screen and clog your charging port and speaker grill. Even if your smartphone has a dust or water resistant rating, it’s best to avoid testing fate by putting a barrier between your device and the elements.
Related: How water resistance levels work for gadgets
Invest in a dustproof, waterproof case
If you spend a lot of time at the beach, in dusty areas, around water, or if you’re particularly crafty, a rugged case can be a good investment. Not only do these protect your device from water and sand, but they also help protect your device from a cracked screen or dented chassis if you drop it.
One of the best rugged cases is the Lifeproof FRE (iPhone version). Available in a variety of colors for a full range of devices, including those from Samsung and Google. The latest iPhone versions support MagSafe, Apple’s wireless charging standard.
Lifeproof FRE for iPhone 13
Another option is to use a waterproof case like the CaliCase Universal Floating Case. Smartphones under 6.1 inches in height have two PVC panels and both sides of the case are transparent, allowing you to take pictures. Best of all, they float so your device doesn’t sink to the bottom if you accidentally drop it.
CaliCase universal waterproof case
Even with a waterproof case, you should be especially careful when using your smartphone near salt water. Rinse the container thoroughly after exposure to salt water before removing your device. Salt is very harmful and can damage your smartphone even if it has a good water resistance rating. In particular, the contacts on the charging pin will corrode when exposed to salt. Over time, this can prevent your device from charging.
Related: What to do if you drop your smartphone in the ocean
Keep gadgets in the shade
Touch screens and dark smartphone bodies absorb a lot of heat. This can cause your device to heat up quickly, which is something you want to avoid. Heat is bad for electronics in general, but it’s especially bad for your phone’s battery. By letting your battery get too hot, you can shorten its life or even cause it to explode.
It is easy to avoid overheating by placing your smartphone in the shade. Throw it in a bag and zip that bag up. A dark or black bag may not be the best idea because it also absorbs heat, but there is something better than letting your device bask in the sun for a few hours.
Prepare for disaster
If you don’t protect your smartphone adequately and decide to use it anyway, you should always be prepared for accidents. As we mentioned before, salt water is very harmful to electronics. If you expose your device to salt water, it’s a good idea to rinse it with fresh water.
Assuming your device is water resistant, you should avoid water damage when removing any salt left on the device. Unfortunately, water resistance does not mean waterproof, so you still have to be careful. If your device doesn’t have a water-resistant rating, at least make sure you have a backup in case the worst happens.
Sand will scratch your display, so a screen protector may be worth your time. If you want to go this route, a glass screen protector is your best bet. These retain the premium feel of the “bare” smartphone display and are designed to be replaced when scratched or broken.
Sand in your charging port is another thing to watch out for. You can use a soft brush to clean sand from your charging port, but wet sand tends to stick around, so you may need to wait for it to dry completely before removing it all. Do not use compressed air on your charging port as this can damage your device, especially if it has a waterproof seal (if you have one).
Avoid charging your phone until you’re sure the port is free of sand, as you could scratch or damage the charging pins. Damaged charging pins can prevent your device from charging and scratching the gold can expose the copper underneath. Copper is highly conductive but prone to corrosion, which is why these contacts are soldered in the first place.
Do not leave things in the car
If you’re driving to the beach, you might be tempted to leave things in the car until you need them. But you shouldn’t leave your smartphone or similar gadgets in a hot car unless you have climate-controlled gloves.
Although your car is well equipped to withstand the beating sun, it is still vulnerable to the greenhouse effect. The air temperature inside is hot and this can be fatal for children, pets and technology.
This is a tip that you can use all year round, especially in the depths of winter. Smartphone batteries hate both hot and cold temperatures. Leaving your smartphone in plain sight gives thieves a reason to break into your car. Even if you only take your smartphone, you should replace the window and other damage.
What about wearables?
Interestingly, wearables like the Apple Watch don’t seem as susceptible to salt water and sand damage as smartphones. We tested this theory ourselves by swimming in the ocean with the Apple Watch, which was harmless, but you should always consult your manufacturer’s recommendations before taking risks.
Are you going to the beach? You may also want a portable charger and some reliable sunscreen.