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You’ve heard it in your nightmares: The liquid “bloop” of a cell phone falling into water.
Fortunately, phones have come a long way in the water-resistance department in recent years. Apple’s latest, the iPhone 12, boasts an IP68 rating for its water resistance — meaning it can survive at a depth of 6 meters (almost 20 feet) for up to 30 minutes.
Technology and culture website CNET decided to put those claims to the test in a serious way: by dunking the phone in the icy waters of Lake Tahoe — not once, but twice.
The CNET team partnered with Mission Robotics to send an underwater drone loaded with an iPhone 12 into the depths. First, the drone brought the phone down to its maximum-rated depth of 6 meters, or 19.6 feet, to be precise.
With the phone’s screen still running and the drone’s camera recording, the iPhone sat in the frigid water for 30 full minutes. The result? The phone was fine, from stem to stern. The speaker came out a bit muffled, but testers theorized that it hadn’t dried fully when they ran sound through it.
That wasn’t the end of the trial, though.
For their next test, the CNET team went whole-hog, submerging the phone at three times its rated depth. They even tacked an extra 10 minutes onto the time, for a total of 40 minutes at 65 feet underwater.
Again, the phone came out of the drink in fine condition. However, after a few days of drying, fogging developed over the camera lenses, and the phone wouldn’t boot up properly.
Still, it took a big effort to get the phone to fizzle. The 12 easily met its stated water-resistance standards in CNET’s test, even in Tahoe’s chilly deep.
The first water-resistant iPhone was the 7 Plus — it was only resistant at 1 meter, up to 30 minutes. Since then, the models have steadily improved at water resistance. And the 12 has Apple’s highest water-resistance rating yet.
Some Android phones, including the Samsung Galaxy line and Google Pixel, also have highly-rated water resistance.
Watch the video from CNET below for an in-depth look at how it tested the phone’s water resistance:
Now that’s one tough mobile phone!