Written by Staff Writer
04 Oct, 2015 | 11:11 am
Over the past few days reports claim that the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are waterproof. In fact, not just reports; there now exist multiple videos that show Apple’s new smartphones surviving extended periods of water submersion. Those videos aren’t fabrications or pranks. Apple’s new iPhones really do hold up under water, thanks to a brilliant new technique that the company quietly pioneered.
That’s not to say that you should go tossing your $650+ smartphone in the toilet on purpose. As with all smartphones claiming impermeability, the new iPhones are water-resistant, not fully waterproof. If you do slip, though, you’ve got a better shot at survival than any previous generation of iPhone has offered. And the best part about Apple’s ingenious water-safe solution? It doesn’t affect the phone’s appearance, performance, or repairability in any significant way.
Water resistance itself isn’t a novel smartphone trait; Motorola was touting the submersibility of the Defy+ as long ago as 2011. Rightly so; water’s a killer.
“Typically, if you get a phone wet, the danger comes when you have logic board contacts with a charge running through them exposed to water,” explains Jeff Suovanen, an engineer at iFixit who recently took an iPhone 6s apart to study its water-resistant credentials. “They can short out, and afterwards they can start to corrode.” Once that happens, bye-bye phone.
Conventional wisdom leans on the brute-force method of coating a device’s case to keep the water out. “That’s what we were looking for,” says Suovanen. “We started looking at the case, the headphone jack, the Lightning port, to see if they did anything to keep water out.” Aside from a thin adhesive strip, though, nothing about the iPhone 6s exterior stood out as substantively different from the iPhone 6.
Inside, though, was another story. Suovanen quickly found that rather than waterproof the case, Apple had opted to waterproof the logic board itself.
“It’s basically a thin wall, it almost looks like wetsuit material. It’s not that, but it looks like that. It’s soft, spongy, you can press on it and feel it give a little bit,” Suovanen says. “It’s surrounding those little logic board connectors, and then the ribbon cable connects over the top and creates a little pressure seal to keep the water out.”
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