Making sense of Apple's wettest smartphone.
The new Apple iPhone 7 is the tech giant’s first water resistant device. But does that mean we can start checking Facebook in the shower, or is it still worth investing in a good ziplock?
Is the iPhone 7 waterproof or water resistant... And what does that actually mean?
Apple claims that the iPhone 7 is water resistant, not waterproof – a subtle but important distinction. The device has an official IP67 rating for dust and water- resistance. The "6" refers to dust (and this is the highest level of protection possible), and the "7" refers to water (with 9 being the highest possible rating). In practical terms, this means the phone can be fully submerged at a depth of one metre for up to 30 minutes. However, Apple clearly states that any water damage will void the iPhone 7's warranty, so don't be too libertine at your next foam party.
Is this a first?
Not really. It's a first for Apple, but other manufacturers have been achieving similar levels of water resistance for years. As a comparison, the newly launched Sony Xperia XZ, had the same IP67 rating. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge goes even further; with an IP68 rating that makes it water resistant to a depth of 1.5 metres for 30 minutes.
Why have Apple decided to introduce this now?
Considering that a huge number of iPhone repairs have been related to water damage, Apple's move is good news for everyone. Moreover, since Apple removed the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7, it's now much easier for them to seal the device than it was on previous models.
So what can I actually do with my iPhone 7 around water?
Using it on the beach and taking photos near the pool is now perfectly feasible, though Apple doesn't suggest that you take your latest iPhone for a good swim. Seawater or chlorine could also corrode your phone; be sure to rinse off and dry if it does come into contact. Underwater photography and videos are similarly possible, although definitely not something Apple is recommending – it should also be noted that the touchscreen will not work when wet. The take-home: You probably shouldn’t submerge your iPhone 7 on purpose, but it’s very likely to survive if it accidentally drops into the toilet.
I want an iPhone but I also want to use it regularly underwater. What are my options?
While competitors such as the aforementioned Galaxy S7 do have higher levels of water resistance, even these are not especially designed or recommended for regular submersion, so don't feel you're missing out too much. If you really want to use an iPhone underwater, the best option is to invest in a decent waterproof case, of which there are plenty of choices.
It's also worth noting that Apple's move towards water resistance will likely send other manufacturers hurrying to get equivalent (and better) features added to their upcoming handsets – in a similar move that saw everyone add fingerprint readers as soon as Apple introduced the tool on the 5S. So, batten the hatches for a wave of increasingly water-resistant Android devices, too. (And for an even bigger wave of swimming pool selfies…)
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