Phones

​How water-resistant is the iPhone 7?

We put Apple's iPhone 7 through a series of dunk tests for our Breaking Point series to see if we could drown it.

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If you own an iPhone 7, you won't have to worry next time someone spills water on it at the dinner table. Apple's newest iPhone is the first ever to be water-resistant. There were reports that the iPhone 6S could withstand some splashes, but that was never officially confirmed by Apple.

And while this is a big leap for an iPhone, it doesn't mean you should take it for a swim. Apple's support page clearly states that liquid damage is still not included in the one-year limited warranty.

According to the rating of iP67, the phone can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for a maximum of 30 minutes, but anything over that may cause permanent damage to the phone.

Despite the warnings, we decided to test it out for ourselves to see how far and how deep we could push the iPhone 7 in a series of dunk tests.

Test #1 - 1 meter (3.3 ft) of water for 30 minutes

We carried out our test in a pool at the 1-meter mark in chlorinated water. The IP67 rating states it should hold up in pure water, so already we had digressed a bit from the actual claim.

We left the timer on the screen of the phone with a GoPro facing it to record the countdown while we waited on the surface. When the 30 minutes were up, we dove down to retrieve it but brought it up to the surface with the stopwatch at 30:34, in other words, 34 seconds past the claim.

Immediately after pulling the phone out of the water, we noticed the speakers sounded muffled. So we dried it with a towel and let it sit for about 15 minutes before testing it again.

If your iPhone has been exposed to this much water, Apple recommends drying it off with a lint-free cloth, removing excess water from the ports by tapping the phone, and letting it dry off before using again. Apple also advises waiting at least 5 hours before you plug it in again to charge.

On second inspection the screen, buttons and microphone all seemed to be in working order, but the speakers never fully recovered.

So we continued with our tests immediately after.

Test #2 - Underwater photography

It's a shame you can't swim with this phone, because the iPhone 7 handled underwater photography like a champ. Most of the objects underwater were in focus even though we couldn't press the screen to select a focal point. The video was clear and stable during each dive, and even the mics were able to record audio underwater.

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Shot on an iPhone 7 (don't try this at home).

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

Everything seemed to check out after this test except for the speakers, which still sounded muffled.

Test #3 - Dive in the deep end

Next we faked another aquatic accident by letting the phone drop into the deep end of the pool -- 6.5 feet to be exact.

Between the time it hit the water, sank to the bottom and came back up for air, it was probably in the water for about 30 seconds...Apparently not long enough to drown it.

The screen was intact, the buttons were fully functioning and the microphone working well. The speakers didn't sound any better, but not much worse considering the added depth.

Test #4 - 10 laps in the pool

This last test was intended to fully drown the phone. Not a lot of people are actually going to swim laps with their phone in tow.

After 10 laps of free stroke where the phone went in and out of the water at a faster speed, it still passed three out of the four tests.

Results

After we let the phone dry overnight, it was still in pretty good shape. Were it not for the speakers, you would've never been able to guess that our iPhone 7 had spent the previous day in the pool.

The volume on all three speakers seemed to be back at full capacity, but the quality of the audio was not as rich when compared with a pristine iPhone. It was especially noticeable in the high frequencies, which sounded a bit jagged on the dunked model.

But even with the slightly distorted audio, the iPhone 7 fared impressively well considering how far beyond the limit we pushed it.

That said, you should never purposely submerge the iPhone 7 in water, because you may not be as lucky as we were, and that underwater shot is not worth a broken phone.