iPhone 11 and 11 Pro might secretly be waterproof: Results of our water test


The iPhone 11 (left) and iPhone 11 Pro (right) go for a swim.

Eric Stackpole/CNET

If you accidentally drop your iPhone 11 in some water, chances are it will be just fine once you dry it off. The iPhone 11 is rated IP68, so it’s water resistant up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) for 30 minutes. The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max can go deeper: up to 13 feet (4 meters) for 30 minutes. But we wanted to see if these phones could withstand even more water than Apple claims.

We know that the earlier iPhone XR and iPhone XS can survive for a long time in salt water, from our previous water test. The iPhone XR survived a dunk at eight times its rated depth before it became waterlogged, while the iPhone XS did not sustain any visible water damage, but its speakers became softer.

To up the ante, we wanted to take the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro to greater depths. Teaming up with Sofar Ocean Technologies (formerly known as OpenROV), we mounted a brand-new iPhone 11 and 11 Pro on its underwater drone, Trident. It can reach depths up to 328 feet (100 meters) and can be controlled from your phone. We sent the Trident deep down into Monterey Bay in California to see what would happen to the iPhones.

Watch the video on this page for the full test and to see some of the epic underwater footage from the drone.

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Dive 1: Testing the claim (13 feet)

For the first dive, we wanted to test the claim for the iPhone 11 Pro: 13 feet for 30 minutes. The iPhone 11 is only rated for half this depth, so we had no idea what to expect for the less-expensive phone.

The iPhone 11 and 11 Pro mounted on the front of the Trident underwater drone.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

After 30 minutes, we brought the drone back to the surface with both phones still attached. Drying off the phones with a lint-free cloth, the screens on both still worked and there was no evidence of fogging on the camera lenses (front or back). 

Buttons and speakers still worked; the iPhone 11 sounded a little waterlogged when playing back an audio clip I recorded before dunking the phones, while the iPhone 11 Pro had some distortion, but was louder than the iPhone 11 playback.

Dive 2: Taking the iPhone 11 deeper (26 feet)

For the second round, we took our boat out deeper into the heart of the Bay and doubled the dive depth to 26 feet for the same 30-minute stretch. Thanks to the camera on the front of the Trident, we could view the phone screens live to see if anything out of the ordinary happened.

Spot the iPhones underwater.

Eric Stackpole/CNET

It didn’t. After 30 minutes, both touchscreens still worked, the cameras took photos without any evidence of fogging or water ingress on the lenses, and speakers played back audio. Again, the iPhone 11 sounded softer than the iPhone 11 Pro.

Dive 3: Down to the bottom of the Bay (39 feet)

Seeing as the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro were still working, we had time for one final dive. Taking the boat out into open water we plunged the Trident down 39 feet to the sea floor.

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When the phones were in the water, the screen on the iPhone 11 Pro flicked from the stopwatch to another screen in the Clock app.

After waiting the full 30 minutes (and witnessing some sea lions swim by), we brought the drone back up to see if the phones survived this final swim.

To our surprise, the phones were both completely fine on first inspection. They looked as good as new and worked like they had come fresh out of the box, except the speakers now sounded muffled on both phones when playing back audio.

I washed the phones in clean water and dried them with a lint-free cloth, then turned them off and let them dry completely for 72 hours just in case the water left us with any surprises.

Is the iPhone 11 waterproof?

After waiting for the phones to completely dry, it was time to see if there had been any additional damage after three days. I ran through the same tests again, checking the cameras, microphone, speaker and to see whether they would charge. I couldn’t quite believe the phones still looked like new (apart from a few small scratches on the iPhone 11’s screen) and there was no visible external water damage. Everything still worked.

The only issue I could find was the speakers on both the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro sounded less crisp and slightly softer at maximum volume compared to two brand-new iPhones that hadn’t been dunked. I confirmed this by using the Sound app on the Apple Watch, which showed the submerged phones were playing back at a few decibels lower than the new phones.

I reached out to Apple and the company pointed me toward its official support page about what to do if your iPhone comes into contact with liquid, which is to rinse it off with clean water and wipe it off with a soft, lint-free cloth.

Update: The iPhone still works… even 8 months later

The ultimate test is really the long-term result. After dunking the iPhones in late 2019, both the phones were still working as normal even eight months later in summer 2020.

As with our earlier water experiment with the iPhone XR and XS, this isn’t a scientific test and doesn’t guarantee your iPhone 11 will survive if you drop it in deep water. Also, remember that water damage isn’t covered under warranty. But our test does show that the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro may just withstand a lot more water than Apple gives them credit for. 


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