How water-resistant is the new iPhone 12 Pro Max?

by Steve Petyo March 11, 2021

How water-resistant is the new iPhone 12 Pro Max?

One of the most prominently marketed features of the new iPhone 12 Pro Max is water resistance, sometimes even demonstrated in pictures of the phones being splashed with water. For anyone who’s ever suffered that sinking feeling that comes from getting their phone wet and realizing it doesn’t work anymore, water-resistance is a huge plus. 

The focus on water resistance by Apple in its marketing campaigns for the new iPhone 12 lineup, from Mini to Pro Max models, is no coincidence––losing an expensive phone to water damage is a problem for thousands of people every year. In fact, around 39% of all smartphone accidental damage cases are caused by water damage.

So now that the newest iPhones come with better safeguards against losing your phone to water damage, the next concern is just how water-resistant is the new iPhone 12 Pro Max? Can it only handle raindrops? How about a drop in a bucket of soapy water? To get a better understanding of what real-world wet scenarios the iPhone 12 lineup of phones can survive, we drilled down to the details of what Apple’s claims of “water-resistance” means for you.

Water-Resistance isn’t a new feature for the iPhone

If you recently bought an iPhone for the first time and were sold in part by the phone’s water-resistant feature, you may be surprised to learn that this isn’t actually a new feature from Apple. In fact, water resistance was first featured on the iPhone with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models. When Apple rolled out the iPhone 7, they marketed the phone as having an IP67 rating under the IEC standard 60529. This rating meant the phone could withstand being submerged in water at a maximum depth of one meter for up to 30 minutes. Essentially, the iPhone 7 could be submerged in something like a hot tub without the jets running, and it would still operate as before. That’s a reasonably high level of protection for people who are prone to dropping their phone in the worst of places.

How water-resistant is the new iPhone 12 Pro Max?Photo Credit:

What are the IP68 and IP67 ratings, and what is IEC standard 60529?

IP, standing for an Ingress Protection, is a measure of an enclosure or case’s ability to resist items entering it. The definition of ingress is “the action or fact of going in or entering,” so IP is just a quick way to identify how good something is at keeping other things out, from dust to water.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) set forth an IP certification rating for international reference, and EN 60529 is the subsequent British standard for the same purpose. IP Ratings provide an idea of the degree of protection offered from foreign elements such as dust, dirt, and moisture.

An IP68 water-resistance rating means that the device being tested can at minimum withstand temporary immersion in liquids at a maximum depth of 2 meters for up to 30 minutes. For the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the rating is even higher, at 6 meters for 30 minutes, but is still considered IP68 level protection.

Keep in mind, however, that these tests are carried out under carefully controlled laboratory conditions. For example, in testing, an iPhone is set to standby mode before and during the test. Most iPhone users aren’t taking that step before accidentally getting their phone wet.

How does water-resistant differ from water-proof?

It is important always to remember that water-resistant doesn’t mean waterproof. The term water-proof means 100% impenetrable by water, whereas water-resistant means the device can withstand a limited amount of water exposure. Because the iPhone 12 Pro Max is simply water-resistant, NOT waterproof, you won’t be able to take any ocean cliff-diving videos with the phone’s sweet camera. Apple makes it clear that high-velocity water can harm the phone, so high-speed drops into multiple feet of water will almost certainly kill your phone.

What is the water-resistant rating on the iPhone 12 Pro Max compared with other iPhones? 

Here are Apple’s official water resistance ratings per model, starting with the first model to offer the feature, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus:

  • iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max have a rating of IP68 under IEC standard 60529 (maximum depth of 6 meters up to 30 minutes). 
  • iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have a rating of IP68 (maximum depth of 4 meters up to 30 minutes). 
  • iPhone 11 has a rating of IP68 (maximum depth of 2 meters up to 30 minutes). 
  • iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have a rating of IP68 (maximum depth of 2 meters up to 30 minutes). 
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation), iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus have a rating of IP67 (maximum depth of 1 meter up to 30 minutes). 

Further, Apple is sure to include this disclaimer about real-world expectations:

“Splash, water, and dust resistance are not permanent conditions, and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear. Liquid damage is not covered under warranty. 

So keep in mind, with time, there’s a chance your iPhone won’t be as water-resistant as the day you bought it, and if the phone does stop working correctly as a result of water exposure, EVEN IF within the IP68 specs, your phone won’t be repaired or replaced by Apple for free.

If you’ve accidentally gotten your phone wet, but your scenario was within the IP68 rating of what it should be able to withstand, what should you do to help ensure it keeps working normally? 

What should I do if my iPhone gets wet?

The following is the official verbiage from Apple on what to do if your iPhone is exposed to water or other liquids:

  • If a liquid other than water splashes on your iPhone, rinse the affected area with tap water.
  • Wipe your iPhone off with a soft, lint-free cloth—for example, a lens cloth.
  • Make sure that your iPhone is dry before opening the SIM tray.
  • To dry your iPhone, tap it gently against your hand with the Lightning connector facing down to remove excess liquid. 
  • Leave your iPhone in a dry area with some airflow. 
  • Placing your iPhone in front of a fan blowing cool air directly into the Lightning connector might help the drying process.
  • Don't dry your iPhone using an external heat source or insert a foreign object, such as a cotton swab or a paper towel, into the Lightning connector.
  • Unplug all cables and do not charge your device until it’s completely dry. 
  • Using accessories or charging when wet might damage your iPhone. 
  • Allow at least 5 hours before charging with a Lightning cable or connecting a Lightning accessory.

How water-resistant is the new iPhone 12 Pro Max

Keeping your iPhone 12 Pro Max Safe in All Conditions
In everyday use, the six-meter IP68 water resistance rating on an iPhone 12 Pro Max is enough to protect it from reasonable exposure to rain, splashes, and dust, but what it doesn’t protect your phone from is drops. For that, you’ll want the protection of a well-engineered phone case like Rokform’s Rugged Case. Our most protective case, the Rokform Rugged Case, exceeds military drop-test standards MIL-STD 801G-516.6 so that you can roam worry-free about shocks and drops. Featuring our RokLock system and a powerful magnet, you can easily attach our iPhone 12 Pro Max to bikes, motorcycles, golf carts, and more while keeping your phone safe.

Steve Petyo
Steve Petyo


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