Apple iPhone survives under water a lot longer than expected

iPhones are designed to resist water for a few hours. This iPhone managed to survive for months

iPhone underwater
(Image credit: Sergey Meshkov / Pexels)

It's every iPhone owner's nightmare: dropping your phone into water, which will surely turn it into a very expensive brick. But Neptune doesn't always win when iPhones meet bodies of water, as a new story from Northern California demonstrates.

The iPhone 12 is not a waterproof phone – it's rated for resistance of up to 6m for up to 30 minutes – but one has been successfully restored after a much longer dip. And by "much longer", we mean "three months".

Speaking to AppleInsider, reader Lee shared his story: while cleaning the Stanislaus River for chinook salmon he found an algae-covered iPhone 12 among some rocks. The iPhone had clearly been exposed to the elements and under water for a long time, so he cleaned it up and set it aside to dry for a few days. I suspect this tactic works better in California, where Lee lives, than in the much more damp UK where your writer does. 

After a few days drying out, Lee connected the phone to a charger and managed to power it on. He hasn't as yet been able to trace the original owner, which is why he's tuned to the Ai site in the hope of finding them after trying to reach some of the contacts listed in the phone. 

iPhones won't necessarily meet a watery end

This isn't the first iPhone 12 that's been saved from the fish people. Last year, the BBC reported how a man who'd lost his iPhone while canoeing in England's River Wye got it back ten months later. Despite being waterlogged, it turned out to be salvageable: the finder, Miguel Pacheco, dried it out using an airline, a compressor and an airing cupboard. He then posted some of its photos on Facebook, where they were recognised by friends of the owner Owain Davis in Edinburgh.

So how can these phones survive when they're exposed to much more water than they're rated for? The short answer is that they're lucky, and the slightly longer answer is that they don't appear to have been under water deep enough long enough to burst the gaskets inside the iPhone. Those are the seals that prevent water (and dust) from getting in to your iPhone's delicate innards; the deeper the water the more pressure they're under, and the longer they're submerged the more time that pressure has to overcome them.

While these stories both have happy endings it is of course better not to drop your phone in water in the first place. So if you're planning to take your iPhone 15 kayaking or fear having butter fingers at the beach. check out our guide to the best dry bags to keep your expensive iPhone safe and dry. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (