Could your next iPhone be waterproof? Apple has applied for a patent that details waterproofing methods for electronic devices. This might mean that in the near future, iPhones, iPads and possibly MacBooks could be virtually waterproof.
One of the methods mentioned in the patent includes coating internal components with a special hydrophobic coating. Liquipel and some of its competitors use a similar process for waterproofing electronic components.
According to Apple, the thickness of the coating would range between one and ten microns. In other words, waterproofing your Apple devices won’t take up any additional internal space.
The patent also includes a provision that would leave the EMI shield in its iPads, iPhones and MacBooks in place, but this could cause some challenges. Because the coating will be applied to the circuit board, the EMI shield might obscure some internal components and prevent them from being sealed properly.
Apple’s patent also includes details on waterproofing connector ends. The company plans on using silicone seals where the connector ends connect to the boards and the flex cables.
News of the patent application was surprising as Apple hasn’t shown much interest in waterproofing its devices thus far. Sony and other smartphone manufacturers have already made this technology a core hardware component. The Galaxy S5, for example, was made water-resistant last year. The question is: is this a feature that consumers value? Considering Samsung removed this protection with the 2015 Galaxy S6, the answer might be “no”.
That being said, if Apple is able to list “waterproof” as a feature for its key devices, waterproofing may become a standard in the industry. Apple filed for the patent in March of last year, so this is still a relatively new invention. It’s hard to say if Apple has plans to implement this technology into future products, or if the company is just securing the IP.