The iPad 3 Won’t Be Waterproof, But The iPhone 5 Probably Will Be [MWC 2012]

The iPad 3 Won’t Be Waterproof, But The iPhone 5 Probably Will Be [MWC 2012]The iPad 3 Won’t Be Waterproof, But The iPhone 5 Probably Will Be [MWC 2012]

BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — Forget a bigger screen or LTE. Ask anybody who has ever dropped their iPhone in a sink, puddle or toilet what they want from the iPhone 5 and waterproofing is number one on the list.

The good news is that there are now a number of companies who are bringing to market superhydrophobic technologies that will help make the soggy iPhone or iPad a thing of the past. Don’t expect a waterproof iPad 3, but an iPhone 5 by the end of the year isn’t just possible, it’s probable.

Apple has long been exploring new technologies that will help them make their devices more resilient to water damage. With the iPad 2, Apple employed a new jack design that helped protect the tablet’s internal components from moisture. They also moved away from using internal moisture indicators to detect water damage, seemingly in response to criticism that they were too easy to set off, especially in humid climates.

The next step is obviously making a device totally waterproof. At this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, there are two companies slugging it out to make your future devices waterproof: HzO and Liquipel.

Apple fans know HzO after this year’s CES when an HzO rep famously said that Apple was talking to them about making all their iPhones waterproof, so we know Cupertino is interested. When we talked to a HzO at their Showstoppers booth on Sunday night, they were far more evasive; however, they still seemed to indirectly confirm they were in on-going talks with Apple.

“We have agreements in place with all of our partners preventing us from talking about upcoming devices,” HzO’s Director of Marketing and Sales, Rick Peterson, told Cult of Mac when asked if they were working with Apple on waterproofing future iPhones and iPads.

Asked about whether or not the iPad 3 could be waterproofed using similar technology to HzO’s, Peterson was more up front.

“In general, it takes at least six months or more from signing a deal with a partner to the release of a device using our technology,” Peterson told Cult of Mac. “No one was even talking about this technology six months ago, so it’s going to take a while for the first phones shipping with HzO to reach market. We hope to see some of them announced this week at Mobile World Congress, and some of these will be shipping later in the year.”

That makes HzO’s technology extremely unlikely to be found in the iPad 3, but the timetable is right for the iPhone 5, which will likely arrive in autumn later this year.

In the meantime, anyone who wants a waterproof iPhone, iPad or Mac should look to Liquipel, another company that is trying to waterproof your gadgets.

They have also been tipped as a possible partner to make the iPhone 5 impervious to H20. However, unlike HzO, Liquipel’s superhydrophobic coating can be applied to any device for just $59, and doesn’t need to be part of the manufacturing process.

That means for just $59, the iPhone rattling around in your pocket can be just as waterproof as the iPhone 5 will probably end up being. And unlike the iPhone 5, Liquipel can get your waterproof iPhone to you in less than a week. And when the iPad 3 comes out next month, Liquipel can make it waterproof too. Aren’t after market solutions grand?

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  • Adrian Berr

    If Apple was smart in the pricing they would charge an extra 100 dollars for full water proof so then the people who can’t buy the water proof just buy the 200 or 300 dollar phone. Then if that phone gets wet Apple would still make money with the product being water damaged.

  • Skywaytraffic

    Smart business move, horrible PR move. It’ll be interesting though. That’s definitely a possibility.

  • CharliK

    “They also moved away from using internal moisture indicators to detect water damage,”

    I believe you meant to say external because there are most definitively internal indicators and they are most definitively being used against customers. And with the launch of the whole Apple Care + they cut all allowance for techs or managers to do a one time exception for physical damage. 

  • prof_peabody

    Nothing personal to John here as almost every tech blog uses this phrase, but I hate it when people pass around that stupid phrase about how Apple’s moisture sensors were “too easy to set off.”  Doesn’t anyone understand how absolutely idiotic is is to say that?  

    They are chemical sensors that turn pink in the presence of a certain amount of moisture.  It’s 100% impossible for them to be “too easy to set off,” or to be set off “by mistake.” It’s a chemical reaction.  If there is moisture, they turn pink, if there isn’t they don’t. 

  • Alex

    Come on, we both know John doesn’t understand technical things ….

  • JaimeMicha

    Stop calling it the iPhone 5… it’s the iPhone 6! 

    iPhone (1g), iPhone 3G (2g), iPhone 3GS (3g) iPhone 4 (4g) iPhone 4S (5g) 

  • MySkyizBlue

    If the iPhone 4S was the iPhone 5 then it would of been called the iPhone 5 get that through your head.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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