There are plenty of things to love about Apple’s brand-new iPhone 7. Like its impressive camera, its stereo speakers, and its sleek new colorways. Or, more practically, the fact that the iPhone 7 is water-resistant. (Which is handy if you have kids, spend a lot of time at the pool, or are simply accident-prone.) But as plenty of smartphones boast water resistance or waterproofing, the details get confusing.
The real-life implications of IP ratings are never quite so straightforward as they seem. And we all know that dunk tests, while fun, aren’t necessarily a good indicator of real-world performance, either. So how waterproof is the new iPhone 7? What does water-resistant mean? And how much water can the device really handle? Read on for all the answers.
What’s the difference between water-resistant and waterproof? Which one is the iPhone 7?
The iPhone 7 is water-resistant, so that means that you can drop in the pool or spill your morning coffee all over it without incident, right? Wrong. There’s a big difference between water-resistant and waterproof. (And the iPhone 7 is the former, not the latter.) With a truly waterproof phone, you could take your phone to the pool and snap some underwater photos. But with a water-resistant phone, you probably shouldn’t rely on the device to withstand much more than some splashes. That’s in no small part because Apple won’t cover water damage under the iPhone 7’s warranty.
The iPhone 7 uses a re-engineered enclosure to make the device water-resistant. Apple explains that the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus were tested under “controlled laboratory conditions” with a rating of IP67 under IEC standard 60529. (But the company also warns that resistance can decrease as a result of normal wear.) An IP67 rating for water resistance means that the device is technically capable of working one meter (or 3.3 feet) underwater for up to 30 minutes. But as Antonio Villas-Boas reports for Business Insider, “you’re better off keeping it out of water when you can” if you don’t want to deal with expensive repairs that aren’t covered by the warranty.
In other words, water resistance is enough to protect your iPhone from accidental spills and drops. But you shouldn’t treat water resistance as a feature, like you might if the device featured guaranteed waterproofing. As Villas-Boas writes, “If it were water PROOF, the phone could potentially go a lot deeper and last a lot longer under water. But it’s not, so don’t take it diving.”