How water resistant are Apple's latest iPhone and Apple Watch, and what do those ratings really mean?
iPhone X and iPhone 8 and 8 Plus ship with official water resistance, thanks to a variety of gaskets, seals, and changes to the design intended to help it survive splashes and dunks. Apple Watch Series 2 and the newer Apple Watch Series 3 take that level of protection a step further, adding clever water expulsion, to allow it to survive regular submersion of swimmers. But what does all that mean?
Here's what Apple has to say about iPhone X and iPhone 8 water resistance on apple.com:
[iPhone X], iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are splash, water, and dust resistant and were tested under controlled laboratory conditions with a rating of IP67 under IEC standard 60529. Splash, water, and dust resistance are not permanent conditions and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear. Do not attempt to charge a wet iPhone; refer to the user guide for cleaning and drying instructions. Liquid damage not covered under warranty.
And about Apple Watch Series 3, also on Apple.com:
Apple Watch Series 3 has a water resistance rating of 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010. This means that it may be used for shallow-water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean. However, Apple Watch Series 2 should not be used for scuba diving, waterskiing, or other activities involving high-velocity water or submersion below shallow depth.
The first is better defined than the second, with an IP67 rating clearly listed. The original Apple Watch was also IP67, and the new could be the same, or could be IP68. The lack of clarity lies in the standard — it doesn't define the requirements but leaves it to the vendor.
Jerry Hildenbrand has a cheat-sheet up on Android Central:
Protected against immersion in water up to one meter at normal pressure for 30 minutes.
And also points out:
[Having] an IP rating doesn't mean you can do anything you like with your phone. Phones aren't tested individually and they are mass produced. Your phone might fail if you take it into the pool, even if rated for water resistance. Having the IP rating does mean that the people who made it should be willing to stand behind it for any warranty issues.
In other words, the new iPhone is like the old Apple Watch. It'll survive brief, accidental contact with water, but don't think you can take it into the hot tub with you, and certainly not regularly.
In fact, iMore Managing Editor Serenity Caldwell has a tragic story of accidentally drowning her fiancé's iPhone and having to replace it. The long and short of it: Even if your iPhone can withstand being run under a faucet or even used in the shower, it's not worth the risk to attempt a full submersion without a waterproof case or waterproof camera bag.
Updated September 2017: Updated to address Apple's latest iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.