What IPhone ‘waterproof’ Really Means
If Star Wars taught us anything, it is that resistance does not mean invincibility. Bad things happen even when you have the noblest intentions, which speaks volumes about how Apple and most other smartphone makers view liquid protection for their devices.
In Apple’s case, the company recently received a $ 12 million fine in Italy for marketing its iPhone’s water resistance. Specifically, Apple said a number of its iPhones were water resistant “to a maximum depth of four to one meter, depending on the model, for 30 minutes,” as noted by 9to5Mac .
It seems normal, right? However, Italian regulators disagreed that Apple did not indicate exactly how it reached its conclusions. Specifically, Apple’s iPhone tests were conducted in a lab, not in real life, to determine safe water resistance ratings for their iPhones, and the company used clean water that didn’t move in its tests.
This is important because you are unlikely to ever experience these conditions when submerging your phone in water. The water is moving. Water can also contain dirt, debris, sediments, other liquids, and no one knows what else. When you submerge your phone in water, it can come into contact with other things: the floor it lands on, something else you keep in your swimming trunk pockets, or an angry fish.
In short, Apple’s benchmarks don’t quite reflect actual settings. They are simply intended to give a semi-artificial number about water resistance – which, it should be noted, is not the same as water resistance – and for Italy Apple was not clear enough on this fact.
- Solids: “Dustproof. No dust ingress; complete protection against touch. “
- Liquids: “Submersion deeper than 1 m. The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions to be specified by the manufacturer. This usually means that the equipment is hermetically sealed. However, for some types of equipment, this may mean that water can get inside, but only in such a way as not to have a harmful effect. “
In the real world, this means rather a combination of environmental conditions and luck. I saw the iPhone 12s successfully pass the Dive + Salt Water Time tests without problems at first, and then found problems when it was time to recharge their batteries . I also saw the iPhone 12 unpack in the pool without any problem. And we’ve all seen loads of YouTube videos of influencers subjecting their brand new iPhones to all sorts of liquid torture:
When water ruins your warranty more than your iPhone
If your water-resistant iPhone gets wet, chances are you’ll be fine. And even if you accidentally wet it a little more than misting or splashing – you spill a full glass of water on your iPhone, or worse, accidentally hit it on the shallow end of the pool – you will probably be fine. Or at least you’ll be in a lot more order than when my iPhone 4 dropped unexpectedly. It wasn’t waterproof at all, let me tell you.
Will I go for water with my iPhone? No. Can I shoot a great video of my next big snorkeling on iPhone? Not without a waterproof case. Should you start saving money for iPhone repair if you dropped your smartphone into something? Absolutely. While your iPhone may be waterproof, this specification doesn’t offer you any protection when it comes to future warranty coverage.
If you drop your phone in water and it works for a while, but later runs into some kind of problem – even one that might not have been caused by splashing – Apple may refuse warranty repairs if the water indicator has been activated on the device.
In fact, that’s the other half of Italian regulators’ concerns with Apple’s marketing – specifically, the fact that Apple has indicated that its phones are waterproof, without explicitly mentioning that liquid spills will void the device’s warranty. This could lead iPhone 12 owners to mistakenly assume that Apple will fix their device anyway if liquid damages it, as it must be a manufacturing issue if liquid seeps through the smartphone’s magic resistance.
Not this way. If this little indicator gets wet in any way, even if everything else is in working order, your Apple warranty repairs will become much more difficult. Resistance can keep your phone alive when it gets wet, but that doesn’t mean you should be vigilant about liquids. The only thing you have to resist is the urge to take a bath with your iPhone.