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Kayaker's iPhone survives 82 days under the waves

With the help of a rugged case, an Australian kayaker's iPhone lives to tell the tale after taking a deep dive.

Dave McGregor kayaking
This is one of the last things the iPhone saw before falling into the water.
Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Dave McGregor is attached to his iPhone 4, but it wasn't attached to his kayak well enough to prevent it from falling into the sea while he was out recording his paddling adventures in Australia. The smartphone spent 82 days under water before washing up on the beach.

A lot of phones won't survive a dunk in the toilet, much less a three-month soak in the sea. McGregor's phone, however, was covered by a waterproof Optrix case. He held out hope for weeks that he might be reunited with his phone, but eventually gave up and threw away the accessories.

This is where the story takes a turn for a Hollywood happy ending. A local resident and regular beach walker with a history of finding and returning car keys and jewelry stumbled onto the phone. "The guy who found it washing in the surf charged it up, turned it on, and called my dad. I was stoked!" McGregor tells CNET.

The iPhone obligingly kept recording until the battery died, logging about two hours worth of video, though it was hardly a cinematic masterpiece. "There's cool footage of the phone falling to the ocean floor, and then mostly blackness after it was buried in the sand not long after falling overboard," says McGregor. He happily ditched his temporary replacement phone and is back to using his iPhone 4.

McGregor didn't set out to make an inadvertent advertisement for his phone's Optrix case, but his story now joins an illustrious line-up of promotions for the ruggedness of various tech products. It keeps company with stories such as the GoPro that fell from a skydiving plane into a pig pen, a Nokia Lumia that logged months in a lake, and the very intentional use of an iPhone as a hockey puck.

These are all modern-day fables for the tech age. Not everybody will be so fortunate, but the sea saga has made McGregor even more determined to take his iPhone out kayaking with him. "I have every confidence after my experience that my phone won't get wet. I just need to hold onto it," he says.