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Apple's wild new iPhone concept looks set to make a splash

A person using an iPhone in a swimming pool
(Image credit: Getty Images / Paul Biris)

The Apple iPhone is a wonderful thing, but it's not keen on water. Liquid and high-end electronics are a bad combination, as we all know full well, and while most recent iPhones are water-resistant to varying degrees, you'd think twice about whipping out your iPhone in a torrential downpour or taking it into the shower with you. Even a spot of moisture can spoil the experience; ever tried to unlock your phone with Touch ID when you've just got out of the bath? It's a recipe for a bunch of failed attempts and finally having to tap in your access code manually (and who wants to do that?!)

Thankfully, however, a new Apple patent (opens in new tab) suggests the company is on the case with making the iPhone a lot more water-friendly. While, like most Apple patents, it's written in that special form of word salad reserved for patent applications, and talks about stuff like 'moisture events' as if that were a perfectly normal thing for a human to say, the goal is clear: an upgrade to the iPhone that'll make it perfectly usable when wet.

And the best thing is, Apple's not just talking about being able to use your phone safely and effectively when it's raining, which most of us would gladly settle for. Oh no, the main thrust of this patent seems to be that you'll be able give it a proper dunking and even use it in water, as the main image from the application illustrates.

Apple iPhone patent illustration

(Image credit: Apple)

That's right, if Apple makes good with this patent you'll be able to take your iPhone into the sea in order to film your friend catching some gnarly waves. And to get it right, it's going to take more than a waterproof coating for your iPhone.

As we've mentioned, water can really mess up your iPhone's capacitive input, resulting in false or inaccurate taps. So according to this patent, once your iPhone detects a moisture event (hey, it's growing on us) it'll switch to a wet mode and instead start using force detection. Remember that Force Touch feature nobody used, ever? Apple's finally found an application for it.

iPhone 11 Pro Max

The iPhone 11's water resistance was heavily advertised - could could soon be blown away (Image credit: Apple)

As well as a wet mode, Apple also plans an underwater mode, complete with an onscreen depth indication so that you don't overstretch your iPhone's water resistance, as well as automatically adjusting the camera for taking better photos and footage when submerged. And in both wet and underwater modes, the iPhone's UI will adjust so that it remains usable – buttons will be made bigger and spaced further apart, so that even when you're being splashed by waves you'll always hit the right button.

Naturally there are no guarantees as to when or if Apple will actually deliver these cool new features; such is the way with patents. But a fully waterproof iPhone's definitely something to get excited about. Don't fancy waiting? Check out today's best iPhone 13 deals below.

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Jim McCauley
Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler who started writing professionally way back in 1995 on PC Format magazine, and has been covering technology-related subjects ever since, whether it's hardware, software or videogames. A chance call in 2005 led to Jim taking charge of Computer Arts' website and developing an interest in the world of graphic design, and eventually led to a move over to the freshly-launched Creative Bloq in 2012. Jim now works as a freelance writer for sites including Creative Bloq, T3 and PetsRadar, specialising in design, technology, wellness and cats, while doing the occasional pantomime and street performance in Bath and designing posters for a local drama group on the side.