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We’ve heard numerous stories in the past couple of years demonstrating just how waterproof Apple’s iPhones actually are, but this latest anecdote coming out of Taiwan may have just set a record.
According to a report from Taiwan News, a tourist who dropped their iPhone 11 Pro Max into the country’s Sun Moon lake over a year ago was recently able to recover it, finding it in full working order after the lake waters receded as a result of a severe drought affecting the area.
In fact, the report describes it as Taiwan’s “worst drought in 56 years,” and while that’s obviously not a good thing, there was a silver lining for the tourist, known only as “Chen” on the Facebook group where he first posted his news.
As the story goes, Chen was paddle-boarding on the lake on March 15 last year, while wearing the iPhone around his neck. He noted that he lost his balance frequently, ending up in the water, and on one such occasion when he fell off the board, his iPhone disappeared.
After he lost his iPhone, he says a friend optimistically told him that he’d see it again in a year, although he also wondered if it may have been found floating on the lake, since he had been carrying it in a plastic pouch at the time.
Despite that, however, the iPhone presumably sunk to the bottom of the lake. Earlier this month, however, as the drought caused most of the water to dry up from the area where he had been paddle-boarding, somebody found his iPhone laying on the dry lakebed. Chen returned to the location, where locals told him that it had been at least 50 years since the water had fully receded from that area.
Not only that, but the water apparently started to rise again only a couple of days after he retrieved his iPhone, and Chen says he was so excited by the “miraculous find” that he actually couldn’t sleep for a few days.
A Case for Waterproofing
This particular situation notably differs from many of the other tales of underwater iPhone survival, in that Chen was using a plastic waterproof pouch on his iPhone at the time. When he retrieved his iPhone, it was still in the pouch, which was presumably sealed, as he indicated that, while the pouch was heavily soiled, no water had gotten inside.
So, it’s fair to say that this isn’t conclusive support for the long-term water resistance of an uncased iPhone, however considering other success stories we’ve heard, we’d be willing to bet that Chen’s iPhone would have survived even without the waterproof case.
Last year, we were already impressed when we heard that an iPhone 11 had survived for two months at the bottom of a Disney lagoon, but if that wasn’t enough, a husband and wife diving team found an iPhone 11 in working condition after six months in a frigid Canadian lake.
While the lake in question, Harrison Lake in Chilliwack, British Columbia, doesn’t freeze over, it gets quite cold throughout the winter months, with temperatures plunging close to the freezing mark. So, it’s safe to say that this particular iPhone would have endured harsher conditions than in Sun Moon Lake, where the temperatures rarely drop below 50° F.
While the Canadian iPhone 11 did suffer some relatively minor damage as a result of its submersion, particularly to the speakers and microphones, everything else was in working order, and the battery health was even still at 96 percent, despite its long and cold sojourn in the lake.
In Chen’s case, the waterproof pouch likely saved him even that level of damage, as he reported that everything was in perfect working order.
It’s a good argument for using a waterproof case or pouch on your iPhone if you plan to engage in water sports or even simply spend a lot of time around water. Apple only promises that the iPhone 11 can handle submersion in up to five feet of water for up to 30 minutes, while the iPhone 12 goes a leap beyond that — up to 20 feet of water for 30 minutes.
Although stories like these and formal testing have shown that recent iPhones can potentially do much better, not every iPhone that spends its time at the bottom of the lake without a case is guaranteed to come out completely unscathed by the experience.