Let’s be real. You’re going to take your phone to the beach. How could you not? So let’s make sure it doesn’t meet its untimely end there.
There are three main issues to consider when beach-proofing your device: sun, sand, and moisture. You don’t want your phone to overheat, you don’t want it to get sand in its ports and crevices, and you definitely don’t want it to get wet.
Take these precautions and you’ll be able to enjoy your beach day in peace. Unless you get sand under your swimsuit, in which case … may god be with you.
Keep it cool
Your phone runs the risk of overheating on a hot day, especially if it’s sitting out in direct sunlight. To keep it safe, store it under a bit of shade — your beach umbrella, perhaps. Popular Science suggests keeping it under a t-shirt or a corner of your beach towel (but not in the sand!). Whatever you do, don’t leave it in your car or in an enclosed, compact space like your pocket. Too hot!
If your phone does start to overheat, turn it off immediately. It’s probably best to wait until you’re in a cooler place before you turn it back on. If you have one handy, hold it in front of a gentle fan or a hairdryer on the “cool” setting.
Keep it dry
Yes, we all know the (dubious) rice trick, but the better option is to not let your phone get wet in the first place.
Sure, there are “waterproof” phone cases and beach pouches out there, but the easiest preventative measure is to keep your phone in a sealed plastic sandwich bag when you’re not using it. Speaking of, you should be using it as little as possible — for one thing, you’ll probably have a hard time seeing the screen in the sunlight, and besides, you’re at the beach anyway. There’s other stuff to look at.
Please don’t bring your phone with you into the ocean and try to hoist it above the water.
Keep it sand-free
As the flawless character Anakin Skywalker once said, “I hate sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.” Agreed!
It’s particularly important to keep sand away from your phone’s ports. If any finds its way into your charging port, your device could lose its ability to charge — or stop functioning entirely. Sand can also slip into the corners of your case and screen protector, which can be a real nightmare to remove. If it really gets in there, it could even scratch your screen.
Luckily, you should be in the clear if you’re already keeping your phone in a sandwich bag. (For extra preparedness, try a dust plug.) If you’re the designated DJ for the day (congratulations), consider making a Spotify playlist ahead of time, pressing play when you arrive, then stowing your phone away immediately. You can rest easy knowing you won’t accidentally drop your phone in the sand. Plus, no one will be able to request songs or hijack the queue if your phone is inaccessible. This means that a) Their sunscreen-y hands will remain off your screen, and b) your flawless musical curation will play as you intended.
You could also opt to operate your phone using only voice commands. Will you look weird saying “Hey Siri” every three seconds? Yes. But your phone’s already in a plastic bag, so you look weird anyway.
OK, but what if I want to go in the water?
It’s a classic beach question: How do you keep your stuff from getting stolen while you’re in the water? If you’re in a large group, you could take shifts staying behind with everyone’s phones and wallets, but that kind of sucks. So what do you do?
The definitive resource on the subject seems to be a New York Times story from 2016, for which friends of the author submitted their go-to methods for hiding their valuables. There are a lot of genuinely great suggestions and a few deeply weird ones. Some are even both: stowing your cash in an empty sunscreen bottle, for instance, or hiding your phone in a dirty-looking diaper.
Clean it when you get home
When you return from your beautiful beach journey, give your phone a quick cleaning. Employing a small can of compressed air is a popular choice, but Apple actually cautions against this approach, suggesting a “soft, slightly damp, light-free cloth” like a lens cloth instead. If you want to sanitize your phone, this BuzzFeed guide suggests making a solution of half distilled water and half 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, then gently wiping everything down.
And be sure to turn off your phone before you begin the cleaning process. You don’t want it to short circuit. Imagine if those six hours it spent in a Ziploc were for nothing!