The “Waterproof” iPhone: Water Resistance Ratings Explained

August 10, 2023 • April Miller


Can you buy a waterproof iPhone? The answer might be surprising. Many people mistakenly assume their “water resistant” iPhone is fully waterproof. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Every iPhone user should know what their phone’s water resistance rating means and how much water their device can handle. 

Are There Waterproof iPhones?

If you’re looking for a waterproof iPhone, you may have to wait a while. No iPhones are fully waterproof as of 2023. This is a common misconception since iPhones have been water resistant for years. However, there’s a big difference between “waterproof” and “water resistant”. 

In fact, Apple doesn’t cover water damage in any of its iPhone warranties. While most iPhones will be completely fine after a quick splash or a drop in the sink, water damage is still possible. iPhones are not designed to go deep underwater or stay submerged for long periods. That’s only possible with fully waterproof tech, such as the GoPro HERO11 camera. 

Water Resistant iPhones

While we might not have a fully waterproof iPhone yet, all new iPhones on the market today are water resistant. If you have an iPhone 7 or later, your phone is water resistant. Not all iPhones have the same water resistance rating, though. 

Apple uses the International Electrotechnical Commission’s water resistance rating standard, recognized around the world. The IEC establishes the “IP” water resistance ratings many devices have. All water resistant iPhones have either an IP67 or IP68 rating. 

The iPhone 7/7 Plus, 8/8 Plus, X, XR, and 2nd generation iPhone SE are all IP67 water resistant. This means they can withstand up to 30 minutes underwater at a maximum depth of 1 meter. 

All iPhones from 2018 onward, starting with the iPhone XS, are IP68 water resistant to varying depths. For example, the iPhone XS and XS Max can withstand 30 minutes underwater at a max depth of 2 meters. In comparison, the newer iPhone 14 is rated for a max depth of 6 meters. 

If you’re not sure which water resistance rating your specific iPhone has, check Apple’s official list to find the details for your model. 

What Can You Do With a Water Resistant iPhone?

A water resistant iPhone is not the same as a waterproof iPhone, so it’s important to understand how much water your phone can handle. Water resistant means a device has some amount of water protection but only up to a certain point. 

Most people don’t actually need a fully waterproof iPhone. A water resistant phone can stand up to virtually any everyday drop or spill with no issue. For example, if you accidentally knock over your mug of coffee and it spills on your iPhone 11, simply rinse off your phone and dry it off with a towel. It should still work perfectly. 

Water resistant iPhones can be washed off with water. If you happen to drop your phone in a swimming pool or in the sink, pull it out right away and it should be perfectly fine. Any everyday contact with water, provided it’s brief, shouldn’t damage your iPhone if it has a water resistance rating. 

One important thing to be careful about is saltwater. Saltwater is more dangerous than freshwater for electronics that aren’t fully waterproof. Since saltwater is more conductive than freshwater, it is more corrosive. It can often eat through exterior coatings and films on phones more easily than freshwater would. Saltwater also causes faster rusting, which can impact the interior of your phone and may not be visible on the outside. 

So, your iPhone should survive a quick drop in the ocean, but you will need to rinse it off with freshwater right away. Make sure to rinse out any ports, too, such as the charging port. 

Is a Fully Waterproof iPhone Possible?

Today’s iPhones are only water resistant, but is it possible to create a fully waterproof iPhone? Completely waterproof tech already exists. The ultra-durable GoPro line of sports cameras are a great example. It’s very difficult to replicate this full waterproofing on a smartphone, though. 

Making an iPhone fully waterproof is more difficult than it may sound. Every crack, connection point, port and surface on the device would need to be completely sealed. Keeping larger particles like dust out is easy, but water is able to seep into even the thinnest crack. 

As a result, engineering a device to be fully waterproof can be so complicated that it diminishes the functionality and appearance of the device while increasing the cost. This is especially true with the ever-evolving range of new features on today’s smartphones. Folding screens and luxury cameras can increase the difficulty of waterproofing a device. 

Technically, a fully waterproof iPhone is possible, though. There is a high likelihood that the iPhones of the future could be fully waterproof in the next ten years or so. It will simply require more research and innovation. 

Keeping Your iPhone Safe Around Water

It might be disappointing to hear that there is not a fully waterproof iPhone on the market yet. Most iPhones are water resistant today, though. So, your phone should have no problem surviving everyday accidents like a spilled glass of water or a drop in the sink. If you want to take extra steps to protect your iPhone from water damage, it’s a good idea to invest in a reliable waterproof case.