Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are splash and water resistant, news that comes as music to the ears of many Apple users who have been waiting for the trendy tech company to catch up to Samsung Galaxy, whose last several versions have boasted the same feature.
Both companies now enjoy what’s known as an IP67 rating from the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), which means that the phones in question can survive in roughly three feet of water for up to thirty minutes.
What Does This Really Mean?
Thirty minutes of total submersion sounds impressive. It’s no wonder that tech blogs have taken off, calling the phone waterproof and citing various user run tests that demonstrate this feature to the fullest extent.
However, it is important to note that “waterproof” and “water resistant” are not the same thing. A camera that is specifically designed to be taken underwater for long periods of time in order to capture underwater photos is waterproof. A phone that is not specifically designed to be taken underwater, but is instead designed to survive if accidentally spilled on or submerged is water resistant. In other words, there may still be some ill effects and although you won’t be heading off to the Apple store to buy a new iPhone 7, you will be waiting several hours as you let yours dry out.
Why Can’t I Go Swimming with My Phone?
All phone manufacturers take some steps to try and protect the delicate electronics from water damage. Generally, this takes the form of an adhesive of some kind that creates an airtight seal around the edges of the phone. Airtight is the key term here. If air can’t pass through, then neither can water.
Unfortunately, a phone that is entirely airtight is no longer a phone. Speakers and microphones that allow you to talk to friends, listen to music, and watch your favorite YouTube channels, require air to go in and out of the phone. Apple got around this issue with the iPhone 7 by developing a water-resistant fabric that acts as a sort of membrane, allowing air to pass through but not liquid.
Due to the need for air to pass through the phone, there’s little that can be done to make it fully waterproof. Even this fabric can be permeated by water if the pressure is high enough or the phone is submerged long enough. What’s more, normal wear and tear on a phone will apply to this technology. Apple warns that the iPhone 7 will likely become less water resistant as time goes by.
So What Can I Do with It?
Apple tested the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus under controlled conditions. In other words, they managed all of the factors at play. They didn’t just throw an iPhone out into the rain or dump it in the local community pool. Therefore, there is no way of knowing from a technical standpoint how the phone is likely to behave under those conditions. Too often, people assume that if something is tested then that means it is safe and will take for granted, say, that their phone can handle any number of conditions for which the manufacturers can make no guarantee.