The new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are the first iPhones to receive IP67 dust and waterproofing certification. However, before you start planning all the new underwater activities you plan to do with your new handset, it’s important to know that those claims are advisory only.
In fact, as the small print for iPhone 7 makes perfectly clear, liquid damage is not covered under warranty.
While many outlets are reporting the iPhone 7 as being “waterproof,” in fact it carries the same “splash-proof” description as the first-gen Apple Watch. As Apple noted about that device:
“Apple Watch is splash and water resistant but not waterproof. You can, for example, wear and use Apple Watch during exercise, in the rain, and while washing your hands, but submerging Apple Watch is not recommended.”
The “not recommended” bit is explained a bit more by understanding what is meant by IP67-level certification. The “IP” part stands for International Protection marking, referring to a standard created by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
The “6” of IP67 refers to the device’s dust-resistance level, along with sand and dirt. This means that in an eight-hour test, there was “no ingress of dust” for the device.
The “7” digit relates to the relative waterproofing of the device, which refers to protection against, “ingress of water in harmful quantity … when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1m of submersion).” The iPhone 7 should be protected against taking in water for up to 30 minutes.
However, Apple notes that, “Splash, water and dust resistance are not permanent conditions and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear,” warns users against charging a wet phone, and points out that liquid damage is not covered under warranty.
Before you get too upset about Apple, though, it’s worth noting that it’s not alone in not offering protection against water damage. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 edge both offer a higher IP68 standard of protection — guaranteeing them to depths of 1.5 meters — but also doesn’t cover water damage.
Even more notably, Sony’s Xperia Z5 smartphone — which used the fact that it was designed for underwater usage in ads — noted in its small print that, “The IP rating of your device was achieved in laboratory conditions in standby mode, so you should not use the device underwater.”