Trial by water or The latest iPhone model against a force of nature
We are all aware by now that the iPhone 12 has a lot going for it: a fine design, a powerful processor, a new level of connectivity, a plentiful of options and features… But we also know that sophistication of this level often doesn’t entail particular sturdiness. So we thought it would be a good idea to check Apple’s latest model for a quality which might not be quite that vital for an advanced smartphone but is always a good addition to other pluses: its ability to resist water. After all, it’s a really popular characteristic as far as modern gadgets go, and now wonder, taking into account how phone-depending the current generation is and how unwilling all these fanatical picture-takers are to put their devices away in any conditions.
At this point, you may remind us that the data on this topic is actually already available from Apple themselves. The company gave this particular line of its phones the rating of IP68, which translates to a half an hour’s submergence under 6 meters’ layer of water as the most these devices can safely take. And as a reference point it’s fine… but not quite enough in our opinion, because even the previous, 11th version of Apple’s smartphones proved capable of much more in that department. They threw up nary a glitch after taking a 12m deep salt water bath. And now Apple is trying to tell us that their latest offering, improved in so many other ways, can only weather half as much? It’s not that we always completely rule out the possibility of a large and well-reputed firm releasing a more fragile version of their product following a more reliable earlier model, but you’ll surely forgive us for not considering it an overly likely one, won’t you? The maker practicing the “better safe than sorry” approach looked like a much higher probability to us in this case.
So we did some digging and, predictably, found out that someone – the brave people of CNet, to wit – have already ventured out to try the real depths of the iPhone 12 (come on, as if you could pass on this pun if you were in our shoes). Assisted by the Mission Robotics company, they valiantly attached their precious iPhone to the MR’s highly advanced, camera-equipped scuba drone (whimsically named Theseus) and headed off to Lake Tahoe for some field trials.
And since we bet many of you are by now as eager to find out what they discovered in the end, let us, without further ado, report how the story went.
At first, wisely starting from the beginning, the experimenters diligently verified the device’s resistance characteristics as cited by the maker. Predictably, sitting 6 meters deep in the Tahoe Lake for the 30 minutes did nothing harmful to the tested iPhone’s screen, sound level adjuster or any of its cameras, even despite the fact that the water was far from warm (11 degrees Celsius, to be precise). The only (unproven) effect was a slight muffing of the recorded message when it was played after the submerging, but the researchers didn’t waste any time drying the gadget off fully to thoroughly check the state of the speaker: they just couldn’t wait for the really exciting stages of the probe.
And then, indeed, the aforesaid excitement started in earnest because the joint group of explorers threw caution to the wind, skipped the comparison-to-iPhone 11 stage and went straight for the record 20 meters deep (in even colder water, mind, for by that time the lake cooled down to 10 degree Celsius). Moreover, not content with just the depth, they also increased the length of this second test to the whole 40 minutes instead of 30. The outcome? Well, according to the experimenters themselves (and the video they posted afterwards) it exceeded even their own expectations: the noticeable harsher conditions their iPhone was subjected to changed literally nothing. Not a single button lost its functionality, the picture taking was not affected in any way, the display remained its normal touch sensitive self… Admittedly, nor did the now-dulled sound of the speaker got any clearer, but even as we type it we realize how cheeky it sounds.
Subsequently, inspired by the results so far, the team set out for the last phase of their undertaking. Having given the much-suffering gadget enough time to regain its normal dryness and restore its fully-spent battery power (which took three days), they switched it on once more… and that’s when their luck – or the iPhone’s prowess – had, sadly, run out. Not only did the lens of recently well-working cameras grow dimmer, but the phone went to Diagnostics mode right after it was turned on, and persisted on staying in it even after the reset was performed with the help of a MacBook.
In other words, the mission’s success turned out to be short-lived. The site itself acknowledges the fact they still haven’t managed to get the phone anywhere past Diagnostics’ stage, nor have they discovered the cause of the situation.
So what does all this tell us in the end? Two things, if you ask us. Firstly, trite though it is, the old wisdom of making haste slowly will get you a long way: skipping steps is not the best approach to the uncharted territories. And secondly, it’s still possible that iPhone 12 is much mightier than its maker purports; but until some other intrepid and selfless hero willing to put its expensive equipment on the line to check it comes out, treat your own device with care, no matter how brilliant that aquatic-themed photo might potentially turn out.
- Is the iPhone 12 waterproof? We took it for a swim to test its water resistance – CNET
- How to sell your Apple iPhone online – iGotOffer
- Everything About Apple’s Products – The complete guide to all Apple consumer electronic products, including technical specifications, identifiers and other valuable information.
iPhone 12 extreme water test [Video]
Video uploaded by CNET on December 1, 2020