Apple may be downplaying just how water-resistant it really is


We know the iPhone 12 can handle spills and splashes, but Apple may be downplaying just how water-resistant this phone really is. The iPhone 12’s IP68 rating means it can survive up to 19.6 feet (6 meters) of water for 30 minutes. This applies to all four iPhone 12 models: the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 MiniiPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max . But we discovered that like its predecessor, Apple’s newest iPhone can handle a great deal more than that. Both of the iPhone 11 models far exceeded the official rating, surviving a 39-foot dive in salt water in Monterey Bay, California. This year we took a brand-new iPhone 12 for a swim in the frigid fresh water of Lake Tahoe, on the other side of the Golden State, to test it out.



graphical user interface


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Teaming up with Mission Robotics, we mounted our iPhone 12 on the company’s underwater drone, Theseus. The drone can go as deep as 984 feet (300 meters) underwater; the pilot can see the view from Theseus’ camera, as well as monitoring depth and water temperature metrics from a computer on shore. 

Watch the video on this page for the full test and to see some amazing underwater footage from the drone.

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a close up of a sign: John Kim/CNET


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John Kim/CNET

Dive 1: Testing the claim (19.6 feet for 30 minutes)

According to Apple’s support page, you shouldn’t intentionally submerge or swim with your iPhone, or take it to extreme temperatures. But for the purposes of our test, we wanted to push it to the limits.

For our first dive, we wanted to test the IP68 claim: 19.6 feet (6 meters) of water for 30 minutes. From the shore of Lake Tahoe, we positioned the iPhone on a mount facing the drone’s camera with the screen set to stay on, so we could see if anything happened to the iPhone while it was underwater. 



a close up of a rock: The iPhone 12 on Theseus. John Kim/CNET


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The iPhone 12 on Theseus. John Kim/CNET

The water temperature in Lake Tahoe at this depth was 52 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius).

Video: Our first look at Android 12 (CNET)

Our first look at Android 12

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