Just how waterproof is the iPhone XS anyway?

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Don't be a afraid of the water ip68
Don't be a afraid of the water.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The iPhone XS and XS Max both have an updated water-resistance rating compared to previous iPhones. The iPhone X has an IP67 rating, whereas the new models have IP68. But what does that mean? In practical terms, it means you never have to worry about dropping your iPhone in the toilet. But the code actually means a lot more than that.

IP68 means it’s almost impermeable

IP68 is a code, and each letters and number tells use something. And no, there IP doesn’t stand for iPhone. IP codes are International Protection codes, or markings. They are published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and are meant to quantify hand-wavy claims such as “waterproof,” and “water resistant.”

An IP marking can have up to four digits after the IP — three numbers and a letter. The codes break down thusly:

  • The first number indicates particle (dust, in this case) protection.
  • The second number indicates “liquid ingress protection.”
  • The third number is no longer used, but once indicated impact resistance.
  • The final letter is optional, and indicates such things as oil, or high voltage resistance.

Dust-tight and waterproof

You can use your iPhone XS anywhere.
You can use your iPhone XS anywhere.
Photo: Apple

In the case of IP68, the 6 means that the iPhone X and XS are completely dust-tight. No dust gets in, even after six hours of trying to force it in.

The 8 in IP68 means that the iPhone XS is rated for continuous immersion, against the temporary immersion rating of IP67. The precise time and depth of these immersion tests is specified by the manufacturer — Apple — so you can’t necessarily compare an iPhone XS’ waterproofness with an IP68-rated Samsung phone, for example.

What does this all mean for the iPhone?

But there are guidelines. For instance, a manufacturer’s test for IP68 resistance should be deeper and longer than its tests for IP67. And Apple actually tells us its test durations right on the iPhone product page:

  • iPhone XS — Rated IP68 (maximum depth of 2 meters up to 30 minutes) under IEC standard 60529.
  • iPhone X — Rated IP67 (maximum depth of 1 meter up to 30 minutes) under IEC standard 60529

The iPhone XR is rated the same as the old X.

So, in addition to being toilet-bowl safe, you should be able to take any iPhone, from the iPhone 7 onwards, and use it to take underwater snaps. However, if you really want to make a thing of underwater photography, it might still be worth getting a proper underwater housing, so you can go deeper than ten feet, and stay there for longer than half an hour.

Also, these are guideline. Cult of Mac’s own Buster Hein tried out underwater photography with his iPhone X when he first got it, and water leaked in. It still worked, but it looked like a kids toy phone, the kind that has a screen filled with water.