Jen Wieczner told a story of a friend lost, perhaps but for the sake of a waterproof phone case ...
... four others, including my friend Tyler Lorenzi, 23, treaded water while the river swept them downstream. Around the same time their fellow sailors were pleading at the door of a strange residence, a tugboat found their overturned vessel and called authorities. Near a ship graveyard known as the Ghost Fleet, Tyler was eventually pulled unconscious from the James; he passed away in the hospital. Another sailor, Alexander Brown, 24, drowned. Tyler, a graduate of Northwestern University, worked as a research engineer for the National Institute of Aerospace, a division of NASA; Alex was earning a doctorate in engineering there.
I didn't know Alex, but Tyler was generous, selfless and warm, and gave hugs without hesitation ... He was dashingly handsome, strong in the way of someone who got that way by going about his regular business, with perpetually tan skin and flushed cheeks, the kind that mark someone who is comfortable outdoors and spends much of his time there...
... According to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, which investigated the accident, none of the boaters were carrying cell phones on the fatal night, or at least none that still worked. After Tyler's death, I wondered about what went through the boaters' minds -- tech-savvy young people who worked and studied at NASA programs -- when they fell into the water: Did they immediately realize the gravity of the situation? Dependent on their technology on land, did they reach automatically for their phone before reality settled in? What must it have been like to realize that their means of communication - and hopes of rescue -- were quite literally dead in the water?
... Motorola calls its Defy SmartPhone "life-proof," because it's water- and dust-resistant; its new Brute flip phone is designed to meet military standards for "extreme elements," including "blowing rain," "salt fog" and liquid immersion. RIM, which manufactures Blackberry devices, says, "While it is possible that BlackBerry could work after being submerged in water, RIM does not recommend doing it," and adds that in a recent Yahoo News water test, BlackBerry did just fine.
Needless to say, iPhones are not water resistant. They are notoriously water sensitive .
You can, however, buy pouches for $10-$25 that will keep the phone working underwater. You can even use the phone in the pouch.
I tested a cheap one at home. Here's my Amazon review ...
I purchased and tested the Seattle Sports Dry Doc Digi Case. The Digi Case 02 appears to be the same case with different attachment device.
I filled the case with a paper towel and then submerged it for 30 minutes in 1 foot of water. The end of the paper towel was slightly moist when I recovered. Most phones, even an iPhone, would probably still be ok at that point.
It looks to me like a new Digi Case, carefully sealed, would protect against a quick dunk. This one is fine for keeping my phone in a non-waterproof bike bag or for insurance on a hiking trip that could involve a stream crossing. I would want something more robust (and more costly) if I were going on a canoe trip.
An iPhone is useable through the case -- the touch controls work.
For an iPhone 4 to fit best, it's probably worth removing any other case. Larger pouches work with a case on the phone.
 We inherited a friend's iPhone 1 after it visited a white porcelain bowl. It worked well as an iTouch for my son, save for the lack of a speaker. One day, after about 1-2 years of use, the external speaker started working. I do not understand this.