What it is: There’s a huge difference between water proof and water resistant so make sure you know what it means for your next smartphone.
Apple’s latest iPhone 7 is water resistant. While this may seem like a big deal, other smartphones such as Samsung’s Galaxy S7 are water proof. The big difference is that water resistant means the device can be dunked in water temporarily and still function once you take it out of the water. Water proof means you can use the device underwater if you want, or that you can dunk the device in water for lengthy periods of time without hurting it.
Officially, the iPhone 7 is designated IP67 while water proof smartphones are designated IP68. With an IP67 rating, a device can be immersed in water with a depth of up to 1 meter (or 3.2ft) for up to 30 minutes. With an IP68 rating, a device can be immersed in water at a depth greater than 1 meter for various lengths of time. An IP68 rating is better than an IP67 rating.
The problem with a water resistant device is that it can still be damaged when dunked in water. Drop an iPhone 7 in a pool and you should be able to use it again without a problem. Drop an iPhone 7 in a pool, leave it there, and then take it out 45 minutes later and chances are good it won’t work any more.
Samsung claims that its smartphones are water proof, yet Consumer Reports found that this wasn’t always the case. Consumer Reports and CNET both dunked their Samsung Galaxy S7 Active smartphones in water and all phones failed to survive despite their water proof rating. Unless the Samsung phones were damaged during their warranty period, Samsung won’t replace any smartphones damaged by water, despite its advertised water proof rating.
That’s likely the reason why Apple advertises the weaker IP67 water resistant rating rather than claim the higher IP68 water proof rating. If you only claim the iPhone 7 is water resistant, then it can be dunked in water temporarily and should work just fine. If you claim a device is water proof, then people will expect it can be dunked in water and still work. If it fails to work after being immersed in water, its water proof claims look completely phony.
Apple is likely being cautious about the water resistance of the iPhone 7 while Samsung and other manufacturers are trying to promote an advantage of their devices even if they fail to meet those advertised claims.
When comparing the iPhone 7 to a Samsung smartphone, it might look like the Samsung smartphone is a better deal because it’s water proof, not just water resistant. However if you drop a Samsung smartphone in water and it fails to work afterwards, now you’ll feel deceived. If you drop an iPhone 7 in water for a lengthy period of time and it fails to work, you won’t be deceived because Apple didn’t claim it was water proof in the first place.
If Samsung and other manufacturers want to claim their smartphones are water proof, then they better make sure they really are water proof. In Samsung’s case, their advertised water proof smartphones aren’t water proof at all. On paper, their features are superior to the iPhone 7. In reality, that’s not always the case, which means their advertising doesn’t support the actual engineering of their devices.
In a perfect world, you would want a water proof phone rather than a water resistant phone. In reality, you want a phone that can withstand water and still work. In both the iPhone 7 and Samsung smartphones, immersing them in water for long periods of time will kill them completely. The only difference is that Apple is being honest about the iPhone 7’s water resistance capabilities (it’s not water proof) while Samsung is not being honest about its smartphone’s water proof capabilities.
Ultimately, do you want the truth that may not look as good (an IP67 water resistant rating) or do you want a better specification (IP68 water proof rating) that may actually fail in practice? You can accept the truth or accept a lie. Which one you choose reflects on your personality.