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Mobile Phones

If you are relying on a phone as your primary safety/rescue backup it would be a very good idea to consider keeping your phone on your person instead of your boat in situations where there is any likelihood of becoming separated from your boat.

Tough Phones

Some brands and brand models of phones are built to withstand harsher conditions (waterproof level, operable with gloves,…). Some are also designed with potential emergency communication in mind (dedicated distress button, programmable push to talk buttons,…)


  • Standards - Most smartphone “waterproofness” is rated IPX7 which is really not adequate for extended immersion. The charging ports are particularly vulnerable. Even if your phone continues to work, you may have issues with getting the charge port dry enough to work for recharging. It is highly advisable to use a waterproof case with IPX7 rated phones (or at least a sealing tape over the charging port). (IP ratings - if there is a number where the 'X' is in “IPX7” that represents resistance to dust/dirt exposure and entry. An 'X' means it has no rating for this. The number at the right end is the waterproofness or water resistance rating.


  • Most soft cases are variations on the same quite cheap designs (most likely from the same manufacturers who just relabel them for the various retailers). You should do an initial waterproofness test to make sure they work. And it is unwise to assume that they will continue to be waterproof for a long time. Periodically test them and/or replace them on a fairly regular schedule.
  • Discussion of Phone Cases 7/24/2014 including Life Proof cases for iphones
  • Usability
    • Phone Usability in Cases think twice before you assume that you can use your phone for help in big conditions, particularly in cold water.
    • Test it and Practice Using Your Phone in Its Case especially if you ever rely on a phone solely without carrying a VHF radio also.
      • The case has to be clear enough to easily read display
      • You want to be able to get enough air out of the case before sealing so that your finger taps and swipes will work on the phone through the case.
        • Or does your voice assist (Siri, etc.) works well enough - try it
      • If you are relying on phone for safety: Test speaking and hearing through case. How rough can the weather be while still allowing a likely chance of communicating effectively via your phone?
  • Favorites that We Have Tested
    • Silicon case option One of this wiki's editors used this one for over a year. It is somewhat bulky but can handle any size phone. It is a bit opaque but the phone is perfectly visible through it except when the sun is creating a glare on its surface. Triple ziplock style closure is something of a hassle but reliably waterproof if you close it fully. Far more durable than the thinner clear plastic cases prevalent.
    • Fidlock Magnetic Bags Our current go-to for phone cases. We have been using these cases for several years now. We have been very happy with their usability and durability.
  • Seemingly better cases (we haven't tested but are either from good sources and/or have good reviews - send us your own reviews)


With soft cases how much tension you have in the bungie or whatever runs over your case is important. If too much tension, you may get the phone thinking it is getting taps and it will launch you into all kinds of apps and modes you can't fix while you are trying to paddle (if you have a reliable lock mode you may want to try that, but will that make your phone harder to get back into usable mode on the water if you need it?). If you figure out a mount that does not run over the front of your phone that would probably be ideal. Although don't be surprised if an occasional hard splash of water makes your phone think it is supposed to do something you really did not intend.

Nelo surfskis have come with their own phone cases (at least circa 2019) and a hard plastic mount that attaches to the foot straps. The Nelo case is pretty well made (at least the phone enclosure) but the mount has proven easy to break for some boaters.




  • Relive Android, iPhone - Track and share, outstanding feature is creation of 3D videos of your routes
  • Sports Tracker Android, iPhone
  • Wahoo Fitness Android, iPhone
  • Strava Android, iPhone, web app - one of the better ones in terms of social support and data sharing with other fitness apps
  • PaddleLogger iPhone, Apple Watch
  • WaterSpeed iPhone, Apple Watch
  • RaceGorilla Android, iPhone - track race results or individual training times
  • Dawn Patrol Apple Watch - designed for surfers, but probably useful as a general tracking app
  • Training App Usage
    • If you are using your phone primarily for its workout app, see if you can set up the app before getting on the water in a manner that requires little or no intervention during your paddle.
    • Make sure the screen will not go blank (power saving mode?) during workout
    • If the app has a lock that prevents random brushes/pressure input interaction - definitely engage that lock mode.


  • Emergency Beacon IOS only, at touch of a button will send GPS coordinates to pre-programmed destinations, text, email
  • Real Time Tracker Android Only Free GPS tracking that can be emailed to friends to follow your position. Geofencing for a fee
  • SafeTrx android and ios app that allows on water group members and on land friends to track group members. More extensive support is available for Search and Rescue services with licenses. But the standalone app works for the group tracking between personal phones carried by users on the water.
    • 2019 list of countries that license SafeTrx for Search and Rescue
      • Australia (Coast Guard SafeTrx)
      • Cyprus (CyJRCC SfTrx)
      • Finland (Trossi Service (FLBI))
      • Germany (Safetrx der Seenotretter)
      • Ireland (Irish Sailing SafeTrx)
      • Netherlands (KNRM Helpt)
      • Norway (RS SafeTrx)
      • South Africa (SafeTrx RSA)
      • Spain (Salvamento Martimo SafeTrx)
      • UK (RYA SafeTrx)
  • Emergency Phone Calls
    • i911
      • Coast Guard you call with your cell for help and if they are using i911 they text you asking for permission to access your phone location. If you give permission then your phone sends its location back to the rescue service you are communicating with.
      • i911 FAQ registration is for emergency responders, not the general public
mobile_phones.txt · Last modified: 2023/07/23 15:12 by preavley