This $300 case will let the Nokia Lumia 1020 go to the bottom of the sea

Fabien Cousteau and his team of aquanauts are spending 31 days underwater all in the name of science. The Mission 31 project ( is a combination of modern scientific exploration, tribute to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and modern media to get the word out. And while all of that is in and of itself worthy of your attention, it's the fact that the team is using the Lumia 1020 that has our interest piqued.

In partnership with Nokia and Watershot Inc. (, Cousteau's team can take the Lumia 1020 on their dives through a customized phone housing. That metal case can withstand 100 meters / 328 feet under the sea, which is extraordinarily deep. Watershot is selling a limited quantity of the specialty case, which cost $300 each. While not cheap by consumer standards, this is a specialty case for pros.

I have one, and this is an unboxing and quick tour of this magnificent piece of equipment.

Made from custom machined aluminum housing the case weighs 1.5 pounds (24 ounces). It also features:

  • Integrated universal tripod mount
  • Threaded Lens bezel for external filters and lenses

Watershot case for the Nokia Lumia 1020

It is ridiculous in the most remarkable sense possible. As you would expect from such a specialty product, it feels fantastic to hold and it is solidly built. The latch is easy to operate, as can be seen in my hands on video, and it has four buttons in which to use the Lumia 1020 underwater.

Watershot case for the Nokia Lumia 1020

Those buttons will allow you to:

  1. Turn the camera on; half-press to focus, full press to take image
  2. Power off the camera to conserve battery
  3. Toggle the Nokia Camera app between photos, video and smart sequence
  4. Review last image

As far as I can tell, they have thought of everything when using this case with gloves, underwater. You can even keep the Lumia 1020's lanyard attached, which is a good idea for easy removal from the covering.

Watershot case for the Nokia Lumia 1020

Although 'normal people' would never need such a case for their phone, it's a unique and fascinating piece of equipment that professionals could certainly use in adverse weather conditions, or when on recreational SCUBA dives.

I did manage to put it underwater, well, at least my sink, and it held up well. We'll see about taking into a pool or even the ocean at some point for some real fun. But no need to take my word for it, just watch the above video taken entirely on the Lumia 1020 by the Mission 31 team, and you can see how they're making use of it as we speak.

Follow Mission 31 on Twitter at @Mission_31 to see their photos and videos as they go live and let us know what you think about it comments! Interested in picking one up? Here's where you can buy it.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • This case is awesome. Mission 31 is awesome. Science is awesome. The Lumia 1020 is awesome. Everything about this is awesome.
  • ...and breathe
  • ...and you're awesome Daniel!
  • Please,... Please do encourage him....
  • Lego Movie theme go!!!
  • Everything is awesooom... goes on
  • O for the love of all things. My little girl watches that movie every day and that song is my nightmare!
  • Beat me to it.
  • This comment is awesome Daniel.
  • they should have took sony experia z2 whic is already waterproof.. :p
  • Z2 is waterproof to 1,5meter in non - saline water(this means you can only use in fresh waters)... Taking it down to 100feet in sea would probobly kill it, not to mention that photos probobly wouldnt be nearly as good luck with that ;)
  • I think the mission involves coming back with awesome photos.....
  • Of course... Lol
  • Everything is Awesome :)
  • I wonder which types of lens it can use?
  • Long Live Nokia... Long Live MSFT
  • Actually, what's the meaning of MSFT? Understood it's Microsoft but why MSFT, I just .. don't get it
  • MSFT is their stock symbol.
  • Cause Lumia line now belongs to MSFT.
  • Daniel is awesome.
  • The Simpsons, "there'll be no accusations under the sea" lol
  • Nice case, but $300 ? I got to think about it
  • You can't afford it.. Just don't waste your time thinking about it.. Unless you're trying to think of a way to convince your wife to let you get it.... Lol!
  • For a standrad consumer that may seem much. But as any UW photographer would point it's a bargain. Any uw camera gear (housings etc.) would normally start at +300$ plus for any camera, and can easily go up to 2000 $ just for the housing. The added bounus with a phone housing is that you can probably add buttons for emergency SMS etc.
  • It's crazy for a smartphone case. But for underwater cameras, that's a good deal though. For any specific camera waterproof cases, you have to be completely sealed to very deep and have specific buttons to control the camera. Therefore, always expensive.
  • Love this case, just wish it was affordable for common folk
  • I'm pretty sure there are consumer-grade cases that would be suitable for regular folks and that won't break the bank. Think of this as an industrial, professional version ;)
  • Not that I've made it, but it's something I've thought about prototyping. That and a 1520 camera grip...
  • I sooooo want a 1520 camera grip, best thing I bought for my 1020
  • Dicapac cases work well. I think they have a 30 metre dive rating
  • its a pretty normal price for an entry-level underwater housing.
    the housing for my shitty point-and-shoot was $300, which was the same price as the camera itself.
  • Pretty cool!
  • Where is a regular case with lens threads?
  • Just make one yourself. I used a tutorial on WPCentral to create just such a case. Gives me a lens hood with a filter ring on a standard camera grip.
  • 1.5 pounds.. 24 ounces.. Oh I love the metric system!
  • Neither of these units of measurement are metric. If you want the metric equivalent it is 680 grams.
  • I wish I could swim
  • LOL
  • Kind of hard to change the form factor of the successor to the 1020 with attachments like this.
  • They could fit a larger display in the same form factor anyway.
  • You'd have to provide light for your photos, there's no flash.
  • Right, but as pointed out in the video it has a mount for an external flash. The Xenon wouldn't throw enough light underwater, so you'd need an external source. Watershot sells mounts for that, which is very common for underwater photo or videography.
  • Ooh, I'd like to see some cool samples of that!
  • Unless a xenon flash throws lesser light than led, I guess the 1020s flash would have been enough for close ups. I know for a fact that the Lumia 920s flash is pretty good for underwater photography..close ups that is.
    But ya external light sources would be amazing!!!
  • The 1020 xenon would just bounce back off the lens on the underwater housing. It would be useless
  • Most underwater camera cases allow for use of the stock flash on the camera. Maybe something like that could have been made.
  • Yes, but the stock flash is nearly useless underwater anyway.  Not enough power, not wide enough coverage, and too close to the lens (causes "backscatter" which is reflections from particles in the water in front of the lens).  An external strobe is pretty much required for underwater photography unless you are diving in very clear shallow water.  Otherwise, you can take pictures, but they will be blurry, dim, and full of backscatter.  This is coming from someone who owns two high end underwater cameras and an external strobe.
  • its not the amount of light, its the position of the flash.
    a flash that close to the lens would take a terrible picture... like you're in a snowstorm. thats why external flashes are way off to the side on arms.
  • What happens if the app changes the layout?
  • I highly doubt the layout will change anytime soon anyway. You know how long it takes for them to update things so it would definitely be "a while" before they tinkered with the layout.
  • I agree that the case, science, mission 31, and the 1020 are all awesome, but I see a potential problem:
    What if the Nokia camera app gets updated so the buttons for cycling through the camera modes are moved somewhere else on the screen? Then the case button for cycling through the camera modes is pretty much useless. Edit: Not meant to be a repeat of taymur's post, I was writing it before that was posted.
  • Good point! Hopefully they won't! lol One solution would be that Nokia/Microsoft just release a 'special' version for this hardware, which in essence would be what we have now, but with a separate Store listing e.g. 'Nokia Camera Aqua Edition'.
  • Well, they would have to update the app on their phone for it to be useless after that
  • you stole my thunder :P
  • Another 100$ and you can buy a GoPro Hero 3+.
  • Those are $299 at WalMart.
  • Not sure what the MP and depth rating for the GPH3 is, but I'm doubting it approaches this.
  • Wait, I thought he said the case was for pros, so why does Daniel have one? Just kidding do great reporting. I do think its cool that the 1020 is getting some more exposure for its power as a camera (no pun intended). Can't wait to see what some of Cousteau's shots look like
  • he said it was for pros, but it obviosuly isnt. no pro is going to trade their fancy underwater DSLR setup for a cameraphone. this is amazing for the recreational market, though!
  • I hope to see more adapters like this, maybe for professional lenses use.
  • I've been 30ft under on my first and (so far) only dive. It was very cool but scary too! :-o
  • Nice, congrats! I did around 100 feet in a shipwreck dive, which was super cool. I used to have Advanced Open Water Diver certification, but that lapsed years ago.
  • I'm pretty sure PADI recreational certs are good for life (although you should probably take a refresher if you haven't gone in a while)
  • congrats! once you get comfortable enoguh to really start to look around you, you'll see all kinds of amazing things!
  • But according to the title,I can take to the bottom of the seas! Your article states specifications at "only" 100 meters! That's a big difference! ;)
  • Clickbait
  • I'd say sensational, maybe hyperbolic, but not clickbait. It's not like you clicked there was no substance, which is what I traditionally think of as clickbait. Instead there's a hands on video, unboxing, photos, and context of the larger Mission 31 project. There's an original story here that you can't find anywhere else. But hey, to each is own!
  • And now we all can find Nemo. EDIT: Forgot JAAAAY!!
  • Optical zoom?
  • Forget about optical zoom, is there a way to use the existing zoom? Like you would get when you scroll your finger up the screen? If not, then no sale!!! LOL...
  • Dope!!!
  • Under the sea huh?
  • " my sink" hahaha I nearly launched Mello Yello out of my nose when I read that LOL
  • What lenses are compatible with the case?
  • I was wondering the same thing
  • a 10-cent ziplock with a strip of tape for added safety will achieve the same, with less bulk
  • If you wanna dive at 120 feet with a Ziploc bag...knock yourself out, ill use this, lol
  • sure, if you're only going a few feet deep.
    have you heard of waterpressure?
  • 1 in 1000 is taking his Lumia to 120 feet below for everyone else, a ziplock will do just fine  
  • It would suck if they move their on screen buttons around in an update lol.
  • How would they charge the 1020 underwater I wonder :P, given this doesn't hold a separate power pack or does it? (Guessing the flash attachment will have it's own power source). Edit: Oh dozy me, they aren't in the water 24/7 lol.
  • 100m ? That's not deep. My Breitling Super Ocean watch is waterproof to 1500m.
  • I dare you to dive that deep. Call Guinness too ;)
  • I strongly imagine you are an 'all the gear, no idea' kind of person.
  • Nope I'm not, and I realize nobody can approach that depth. My watch has made it to about 3m.
  • That is plenty deep.
    PADI Open Water certification recommends a max depth of 20m
    PADI Advanced Open Water certificaiton recommends a max depth of 40m to go below 40m safely, you really need to have technical dive training, where you use exotic air mixtures and such... its not a common thing for recreational divers. professional divers would probably have fancy DSLR setups, so even though this review said "for professionals"... its really more for recreational divers. long story short, 100m is fine, even with a large saftey margin.
  • That is a really cool case, not one I would ever use, but still awesome. My uncle is a Cuba instructor and goes diving all the time. I'll have to show him this.
  • this case is awesome but it's kinda expensive for this case ...
  • Actually, it really isn't.  Not for TRUE underwater housings.
  • Fantastic review Daniel, thank you. As a seasoned diver and having played with both video and photography I was immediately attracted to this -- I use a GoPro Hero 3+ with light & motion lights and camera arm -- but could easily see bringing something like this on casual shore dives without sacrifycing any usability. For what you get (machined aluminum housing rated to 100m) the price is very reasonable. The GoPro's acrylic housing is rated only to 40m and that limit is easily reached over here in Southeast Asia and Micronesia. Please release a version for the 1520... Cheers [\]
  • Thanks! Glad you liked it and thanks for your insight.
  • I would have liked to see more of these cases to high end phones. Of course at a lower price
  • Go to and check the prices on a lot of their housings.  $300 is NOT unusual.
  • The flash is not visible. Big fail!
  • you don't want the on-camera flash when you scuba dive.
    have you ever taken a picture with a flash in a snowstorm? its like that but worse. if you havent... the closer the flash is to the lens, the worse the picture is underwater because all the particles floating in the water will reflect the flash and totally ruin your picture. if you're going to use a flash, you at the bear minimum need a difuser (which is still total shit), or an external flash.
  • And, with that case you can easily (and SHOULD) add an industry-standard light tray, which would allow you to put true strobe and a true video light on it.  Or dual strobes.  I find the video light I use with the SeaLife DC1400 Pro Duo gets me better results even with stills than the strobe does.  For those interested, check out my YouTube page, Ceti Fox Productions, and see some of the video I've shot with it.  And, if someone wants to get me an early birthday present of the Watershot case, I wouldn't be adverse to that ;)  
  • At 100m deep, you think you can take a steady photo with a phone camera? kind of joking...
  • How would it be different with any other underwater camera?  You realize that all underwater cameras are really just regular cameras with very expensive, specialized housings, right?  The Lumia, having optical stabilization, would actually be a better candidate than most.  But one downside is that ALL your adjustments are screen menu based, not using a hardware button to move through the settings.  Cameras typically used for underwater have various hardware buttons that the cases are designed to activate so that you have full control of settings.
  • Pretty cool case... but unfortunatly if there are any software updates that change the location of the on-screen buttons, the two rear buttons won't work as intended.
    also, unlike a normal underwater camera, there is no way to use any of the other settings... like manually adjusting exposure etc, with this case. although, that being said... unless you're a professional underwater photog, auto is enough. if youre a pro, you probably have an underwater DSLR housing. you really only need the top buttons. If I had a 1020, I'd seriously consider this.
  • As a scuba instructor and budding underwater photographer/videographer, and proud owner of a Lumia 1020, I am excited to see all this.  I just really wish I knew this case was coming last year before I bought the SeaLife DC1400 Pro camera.  Don't get me wrong, I've not regretted getting it and it does a fantastic job.  But with the exception of the built-in filters for shooting at depth, I bet I could add standard optical filters on the Watershot case on the Lumia 1020 and accomplish the same.  Fantastic info, Daniel.
  • Damn... Where was this when we went to Hawaii last year? Went snorkeling several times. Wanted to take my 1020 with me into the sea so bad, you have no idea.
  • Will you still get LTE under water?
  • What if developers revamp the UI of Nokia Camera, and change the buttons' position on the screen. Just think about it, lol 
  • I have to wonder though, the buttons on the screen, will they work with the new camera app in WP 8.1? It looks like they designed the buttons for the WP8 camera app
  • Just got mine today and I'm excited to test it this weekend on a river/beach trek!