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No, The iPhone 6S is Not Waterproof. But it Could Be.

As usual, Apple has been making headlines left and right after the recent launch of the new and improved 6S and 6S Plus. 13 million people making the upgrade in a single weekend just goes to show the power this brand has among its tech faithful.

Air Bubble in the Charging Port

Air Bubble in the Charging Port

But beyond a few feature updates, the story that’s been stealing the show is about the apparently new and improved water protection capabilities of the phones. Gadget ‘stress testers’ from all around the web were quick to start pushing the limits of the new phones by conducting water submersion tests, and early results from a few sites set off a wild fire of tech publications putting out headlines claiming Apple had possibly released waterproof electronics and had the audacity to not tell us.

But let’s be very clear about one thing. Despite all the initial excitement you may have encountered suggesting the possibility, the new Apple 6S and 6S Plus are not waterproof. They just aren’t.

Knowing what we know here at HZO about doing both real world and laboratory water testing on electronics, we can’t help but think about the linear way so many of these tests get performed by tech writers and at home-testers.

Imperfect Testing

First of all, when you put a phone in a shallow container of water and let it lie flat, chances are a good a tiny air bubble will form over the charge port and other openings as water tries to get in and air is being forced out. It doesn’t happen every time and it’s not a slight-of-hand trick. Water is no doubt still getting into the phone, but it may not be totally inundated like it would be if the phone was submerged upright.

As strange as it may sound, laying a device gently inside a few inches of water really isn’t going to give you a good idea about performance and resistance to water.

Nor do tests like this take into account the corrosion that’s likely started to develop somewhere inside the device. The beginning of a slow but inevitable death sentence for most electronic devices.

All of this leads to the more complex question—are these new phones more resistant to water than previous versions? It appears they are.

Our technical team identified about six key features that help improve the level of water protection on phones. Here are three key features:

 

  1. The interior edge of the housing on the new phones is slightly wider than the iPhone 6 (about 0.3 mm to be precise). This very small space increase in size is just enough to comfortably seat a gasket that runs around the entire casing of the phone.
  2. There is a coating material on the main boards and other components inside the phone. Worth noting that the 6 also has a conformal coating over certain components.
  3. The vulnerable connectors inside the device are now also surrounded by small seals and form adhesives meant to help protect these sensitive areas susceptible to causing quick failures and corrosion after exposure to liquids. This is important on the board to board connections.

 

Adhesive Around Connectors

Form Adhesion Around Board Connectors

No doubt that Apple uses a systematic and sequential approach to test and phase in technologies that improve the usability, life and performance of its products. Put these three small design updates together and it’s true that the end product is a device that is more resistant to water than its predecessors.

Stay tuned. Our team has a few of the new phones in the building, and pretty soon we’ll give you a peek at an HZO Protected iPhone 6S that really is waterproof.

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