A casual cavort at the beach or poolside may do wonders for a winter-weary soul, but it can be tough going for your smart phone. A close encounter with surf or sand can put your phone on extended disability—or turn it into a pricey paperweight. Not a problem for several recent additions to our smart-phone Ratings. These sleek models are designed to survive a 30-minute dunk in about 3 feet of water and laugh off wind-swept sand and other small debris. The cameras actually work under water, so you can take exciting underwater still pictures and videos without expensive and bulky contraptions. Of course, these recommended models handle traditional smart-phone tasks as competently as their landlubber cousins.
The Samsung Galaxy S 5
This is the top-scoring phone in our Ratings, offering great performance in critical areas, beginning with a superb 5.1-inch display that's easy to see in sunlight. The ultra-responsive 15.9-megapixel camera provides equally fast and simple access to useful controls and effects, and you can also record video in ultra HD resolution. Switching to Ultra Power Saving Mode enables you to stretch its already great battery life even more in case of an emergency. In the unlikely event you should completely drain the battery, you'll be able to fully recharge in a very short time, thanks to the included 2-Amp USB 3.0 charger.
The Galaxy S 5 fingerprint scanner is a convenient option for unlocking the screen or authorizing PayPal purchases with a single swipe. There's also a heart-rate monitor mounted next to the main camera's LED flash. When you put your index finger on it, you should see your heart rate on the phone's display.
Even the phone's menus have been improved. For instance, the Settings menu now includes a search tool, similar to the one on the Note 3, so that you can quickly jump to the control you want without wading through the phone's considerable list of options.