Water-resistant vs. waterproof
Let’s get this out of the way first, since these terms are often used interchangeably by manufacturers. There is no universal standard for “waterproofing” — that is to say that nothing can truly be considered waterproof, since no manufacturer can absolutely guarantee that. Therefore, everything that can withstand a bit of moisture is water-resistant.
Water-resistant products are given “Ingress Protection” or IP ratings, which help consumers determine their level of water resistance. The rating consists of two digits, the first from 1 to 7 and the second digit from 1 to 9. The first number is intrusion protection, which really refers to dust. The second is moisture protection.
Rather than go through all them, the IP ratings we need to concern ourselves with in the case of Apple products are IP67 and IPX7, the water resistance rating given to the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and X, and the Apple Watch “Series 0” and Series 1, respectively. The Apple Watch Series 2 and 3 are good to 50 meters deep, but were not given an official IP rating. IP67 and IPX7 mean that the device is totally protected against dust that would harm the internals, and it can survive after being submerged in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes.
Apple has given none of its other products an IP rating, so it’s safe to say that your iPad, AirPods, Mac, and older iPhone are all susceptible to water damage.
‘Swim-proof’ vs. ‘splash-proof’
The Apple Watch Series 2 and 3 are “swim-proof,” which means they can handle submersion for quite a while and can handle the pressure of swimming strokes, which can force water into devices much faster than simple submersion can. The first-gen Apple Watch and Series 1 are merely splash-proof, despite their IPX7 ratings.
While Apple does not mention water or liquid damage in its standard one-year Apple Watch warranty, it does guarantee your Apple Watch Series 2 or 3 when used under Apple’s guidelines. This means shallow water activities, but not anything with “high velocity water” or “submersion below shallow depth.” So while the Apple Watch Series 2 and 3 are guaranteed to 50 meters deep under ISO standards, Apple isn’t so keen on your doing that outside of controlled testing.
Water damage and your warranty
We’ve been seeing it since the iPhone 7 was released: people taking underwater photos, going swimming with the iPhone, and just plain playing fast and loose around water. While that’s all fine and good, it’s a bit foolhardy.
It won’t last forever
While your iPhone may seem “waterproof” at the beginning, water does take its toll over time. The nano-coating covering connectors and ports will degrade, and as water evaporates off of your iPhone, it’ll dry out any plastic. And if you’ve ever dropped or scratched your iPhone, any little imperfection can expedite liquid’s destruction.
Even our own Serenity Caldwell drowned her husband’s phone when she flew a little too close to the underwater photography sun.
Apple ain’t got time for that
Apple doesn’t cover water damage under its regular warranty, so if your device does go kaput, you’re hooped. Without AppleCare+, water damage repair will cost your up to $549 for your iPhone XS.
How to fix iPhone or iPad water damage
If your iPhone or iPad was fully submerged in water for any length of time, there is no guaranteed fix for water damage. There are a few things you can try, but don’t get your hopes up. If your device has just been splashed, then chances are water hasn’t gotten inside, but play it safe and follow these steps anyway.
Manually dry it
Before you go raiding the pantry for rice, take your iPhone out of the liquid and dry it off as well as you can first:
1)Take your phone out of the water as quickly as possible (duh).
2)Turn it off. DO NOT TRY TO USE IT.
3)Take the case off if you have one.Take the SIM card out.Shake it, baby, shake it.
4)Try to shake, blow, or suck out as much water as you can.
5)Wipe your phone down with the most absorbent cloth you can find, and make sure it’s a dry one. (ShamWow FTW!)
If you’re feeling adventurous (and you’re OK with voiding your warranty/AppleCare), you can open your iPhone or iPad up to dry the inside better.
Just let it dry. And wait. The longer you can wait to turn your iPhone or iPad back on, the better. If you can wait three days, do it.