iPhone 12 water test: Apple may be downplaying just how water-resistant it really is

Is the iPhone 12 waterproof? We took it for a swim to test its water resistance

We know that the iPhone 12 can handle spills and splash, but how Apple can actually make this phone waterproof. The IP68 rating of the iPhone 12 means that it can survive up to 19.6 feet (6 meters) of water for 30 minutes. This applies to all four iPhone 12 models: iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. But we came to know that like its predecessor, Apple’s newest iPhone can handle even bigger things. Both iPhone 11 models Far from exceeding official ratings, she survived a 39-foot dive in saltwater in Monterey Bay, California. This year we took a new iPhone 12 to swim in the fresh waters of Lake Tahoe on the other side of the Golden State, to test it out.

Connecting with Mission Robotics, we mounted our iPhone 12 on the company’s underwater drone, Thoughtus. The drone can go as deep as 984 feet (300 m) underwater; Pilots can view the scene from In These’s camera, as well as monitor depth and water temperature from a computer on shore.

Watch the video on this page for complete testing and to see some amazing underwater footage from the drone.

Read more: iPhone 12 Drop Test Results Ceramic Shield is as Hard as It Sounds


John Kim / CNET

Jump 1: Claim test (19.6 ft for 30 minutes)

According to Apple’s support page, you should not intentionally drown or swim with your iPhone, or take it to extreme temperatures. But for the purposes of our testing, we wanted to push it to the limit.

For our first dive, we wanted to test the IP68 claim: 19.6 ft (6 m) of water for 30 minutes. From the shore of Tahoe Lake, we positioned the iPhone on a mount with the screen set to face the drone’s camera, so that we could see if anything happened to the iPhone while it was underwater.


IPhone 12 on these.

John Kim / CNET

Lake Tahoe had a water temperature of 52 ° F (11 ° C) at this depth.

Once after 30 minutes, we took the phone out of the water and dried it with a cloth. Then we tested it to see if the phone was working. The touchscreen was fine and the volume rocker worked as expected. All three cameras (front, ultraviolet and wide) had no evidence of fogging and the photos looked normal. We recorded a voice memo before dipping the phone and could hear that the speaker shuffled a bit compared to the first dive, but it’s hard to tell if it would have improved after letting it dry longer. . Apple’s support page suggests helping the drying process by placing the iPhone’s base and Lightning connector in front of the fan. We had other ideas though.

Dive 2: Extreme Test (65 ft)

With the iPhone 12 operating normally, we prepared the drone for its second dive into Lake Tahoe. This time, we wanted to take the phone to a more extreme depth. We submerged the phone within 65 feet (20 m) of water, more than three times the maximum depth. The water temperature at this depth was 50 ° F (10 ° C).

With the timer running on the screen of the iPhone 12, we could see how much time had passed since the phone was submerged. Once it hits for 30 minutes, we decided to submerge it for a while, just to see what will happen. We finally got the drone out of the water at the 40-minute mark and ran through the same test all at once.


John Kim / CNET

Surprisingly, everything worked as normal. The screen was responsive, the volume and power buttons worked, and the two cameras were also in working order. The speaker still played mute while playing back the voice memo, but it was still audible.

After wiping the iPhone 12, we drove it down and let it sit for a few days to dry completely.

Final test

After letting it dry for 72 hours, we wanted to do a final test to see if there was any long-term damage as a result of the extreme underwater testing. The phone itself was completely dry, but its three lenses – ultraviolet and wide-angle at the back, as well as the front camera – had developed some fogging.

The battery was also completely depleted at this point, so we left the phone for a while through the Lightning port before turning it back on. But once we did, the screen on the iPhone 12 showed diagnostics quickly. After some time trying to get through diagnostics, we plugged the iPhone 12 into the MacBook to see if we could reset the device. It has worked, but we still haven’t been able to find the diagnostics screen in the past.

While we have no way of knowing what caused this error, it may be water damage, temperature changes between the cold waters of Lake Tahoe, indoor environments, or a combination of both.

How Water Resistant is the iPhone 12?

Our highly unscientific test would suggest that the iPhone 12 can withstand very deep waters and clearly meet the IP68 claim. But, like all electronics, there is a limit to how much water it can carry and you should never intentionally submerge the phone in water (lake or other).

Like our first underwater experiment with the iPhone 11, your results may vary. Also remember that water damage is not covered under warranty. We contacted Apple and the company pointed us to these instructions on their support page. Following these guidelines can improve your iPhone’s chances, as it comes in contact with water or some other type of liquid.

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