Water Resistant Does Not Mean Waterproof

With summer upon us, it’s likely you’ll seek refuge from the heat by heading to cool waterside locations: the beach, the pool, the lake, or the river. Whichever place you choose, your portable devices will invariably go with you, particularly your smartphone. As an authorised Apple repairer who has a lot of experience in trying to resolve issues caused by water damage, our advice is to take special care when using portable devices near the water. One more tip we have for you; water resistant does not mean waterproof.

Most of the smartphones on the market today are water resistant so they can tolerate some exposure to water, like the quickest of drops into the bath, sink, or pool. However, some are more water resistant than others, namely those with a rating of IP67 or IP68.

The IP rating is a standard from the International Electrotechnical Commission which specifies a device’s resistance to dirt, dust and other solid particles, as well as water. IP stands for Ingress Protection, while the rating’s first digit is the dust resistance and the second is the water resistance; six is the highest possible dust rating, and eight is the highest water rating.

IP67 and IP 68 are common ratings and both offer virtually complete protection against dust. Water resistance is a different story. Apple says that their IP67 smartphones are water resistant to a maximum depth of one metre while an IP68 phone is certified to be water resistant in deeper water for the same time period, although the actual depth depends on the model. Plus, common liquids like carbonated soft drinks, beer, coffee, tea, and juice can be rinsed off with tap water if they are ever spilt onto the device.

An IP rating shouldn’t be seen as a magical waterproofing formula that makes any device impervious to water or other liquids. It doesn’t. It’s all to do with providing decent protection against brief or inadvertent water exposure, and that’s why manufacturers like Apple recommend you take every step to avoid liquid damage. This includes:

  • Don’t swim or bathe with your iPhone
  • Don’t expose your iPhone to high-velocity water pressurized water. Common examples of when this might occur include showering, water skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, jet skiing etc
  • Don’t use your iPhone in a sauna or steam room
  • Don’t Intentionally submerge your iPhone in water
  • Don’t operate your iPhone outside suggested temperature ranges or in very humid conditions
  • Don’t disassemble your iPhone or subjecting it to other impacts

All of those “don’ts” we’ve just listed would also apply to most other brands, models and devices.

It’s best to see IP ratings as a layer of protection against accidental water exposure instead of prolonged and intentional use within the water. The water resistant qualities of modern devices are pretty good but they’re not designed to be waterproof and that’s why the idea of swimming with one should be dismissed. When you add saltwater or heavily chlorinated pool water to the equation, and the damage they can do, you can see why.

In summary, take extra care when using a device near water, even if it has the highest IP rating. But if water damage does occur despite your best intentions, contact us and we’ll work out the best way of dealing with the issue.