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Apple’s new patent hints at a future of waterproof iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches

iPhone waterproof patent
Image used with permission by copyright holder
With bend tests a distant memory, maybe it’s time to think about bringing back dunk tests. Apple has filed a patent titled “Methods for shielding electronic components from moisture,” which hints at a possible future of waterproofed Apple devices – iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches and maybe more.

“Many electronic devices are susceptible to water damage because they are not fully sealed and include various openings for charging, connecting peripherals, and inputting and outputting audio,” according to the patent filed by Apple on March 31, 2014 and published on March 5, 2015. To combat the threat of water, the patent describes a hydrophobic (i.e., water-repelling) coating with a thickness between one and 10 microns, which would be thin enough to prevent interference with functional openings in an electronic device.

This hydrophobic coating can be applied to a device’s printed circuit board (PCB) by a plasma assisted chemical vapor deposition (PACVD) process, which charges a substrate’s surface to bond the coating to the charged surface. “The plasma then settles on and adheres to the component, providing a robust, water-resistant, corrosion-resistant protective seal for the component,” according to the patent, which addresses other approaches to waterproofing electronic devices.

Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the Apple Watch could be worn in the shower, which means it’s water resistant but not necessarily waterproof.

While there are a number of waterproof cases for the iPhone 6, the patent notes that if water does somehow find its way through a protective case, it’s game over for your phone.

Samsung, which took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with the water-resistant Galaxy S5 as an opportunity to mock the iPhone’s lack of water resistance, left water resistance off the list of features for its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge phones.

Sony’s Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact phones are waterproof, and the company’s recently introduced Xperia M4 Aqua is also waterproof. However, it’s unclear if the upcoming Xperia Z4 will also be waterproof.

Jason Hahn
Jason Hahn is a part-time freelance writer based in New Jersey. He earned his master's degree in journalism at Northwestern…
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