June 18, 2018
Any smartphone repair service can tell you the bane of modern electronics is water. Some manufacturers have experimented with creating waterproof phones with varying degrees of success, but Apple has only ever claimed the iPhone is water-resistant starting with the iPhone 7.
Most water-resistant devices are only as resistant as their gasket allows them to be, but new patent images have been discovered that show Apple is working on a new way to help make devices waterproof rather than just water-resistant. Current water-resistant phones are recommended for being submerged no longer than 30 minutes and for no deeper than three meters, but this new patent could drastically change that.
Apple's New Waterproof Patent
The patent was first published on Tuesday and was filed in March 2017, so Apple has been working on this for some time. The iPhone X features water-resistance, but future iPhones could feature near waterproofing according to the design laid out in the patent below.
This new patent features a connector with a deformable seal that you can plug into critical ports on your phone to make them liquid-tight. The idea is this connector would be added to accessories like headphones and charging cables that will be used in a wet or damp environment.
Traditional waterproofing patents have a port that is designed to be waterproof without a connector, so it's interesting to see Apple taking this approach with their design. A second patent shows the plastic gasket on the connector forms a sheath around the connector itself so that when it is plugged into the device, it creates a waterproof connection.
Other Waterproofing Patents
Aside from this new form of connection that features waterproofing, Apple also has several other waterproofing patents under its belt. One patent from 2015 suggests that the company has explored the concept of self-healing elastomers that will cover ports to keep water out with a self-breaking seal for connecting a cable to the device.
Starting with the iPhone 7, Apple introduced a new water-resistant speaker that is designed to wick water away from the primary audio channel using the motion of the speaker itself. A mesh umbrella can move the liquid away with the vibration from the speaker.
Will iPhone 11 be Waterproof?
It's important to note that companies like Apple are continually filing patent applications and trademarks for new technologies, but this is no guarantee that the technology will appear in an upcoming device. From an industry perspective, it seems likely with the focus on wireless charging that Apple is hoping to make a device that will be completely waterproof.
Some competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S9 already have a significant degree of water-resistance, so it's not unlikely to imagine that Apple will be focusing on this feature as the next selling-point for the iPhone 11. The iPhone X was criticized for being less water-resistant than its chief Android competitor, the Galaxy S8. Apple isn't the only company that is focusing on making water-resistance a top priority for their devices, too.
Best Water-Resistant Phones of 2018
Looking for a good phone that you can take with you to the beach or in the bath without worrying about getting it wet? Here's a quick peek at the top 10 water-resistant devices that are available on the market right now. Of course, if you prefer iOS to Android your options are not as broad.
All of the phones below are rated at least IP67, which means they can withstand up to 30 minutes in very shallow water like a bathtub or the shallow end of a pool.
* iPhone X
* iPhone 7
* iPhone 7 Plus
* iPhone 8
* iPhone 8 Plus
* Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus
* Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus
* Google Pixel 2
* Google Pixel 2 XL
Expect water-resistance and waterproofing to be a hot topic for this year's iPhone rumor mill. Another hotly discussed rumor is whether or not Apple will ditch the Lightning cable it has used for its smartphones and tablets and switch to the new USB-C standard. Apple has completely removed lightning connectors from its line of laptops in favor of USB-C ports, so it is not unlikely that they may be considering doing the same for their smartphones and tablets. The new iPhone reveal, still a few months away, so fans will have to wait with bated breath to see which direction Apple goes in this year for its big selling point.
A switch to USB-C may make the possibility of waterproofing for both the iPhone and the iPad a better possibility, especially if these patents that are designed around waterproofing the connector instead of the port come into play. Apple's renewed focus on making wireless charging a feature for all of its smartphones also strongly hints that the company will focus on water-resistant features for the next generation. By changing the design of the port and the connector that is used for the iPhone, Apple could conceivably create an entirely new way to waterproof a smartphone that is more effective than the current IP67 rating.