Apple Just Figured Out How To Make iPhone Buttons Waterproof

Photo: Courtesy Apple.
If you haven't had the misfortune of dropping your phone in the toilet, or accidentally dousing it with an ill-timed elbow-knock into a pint of beer, consider yourself lucky. Successful iPhone resuscitation is a delicate art. But, Apple has heard our desperate cries for help (or has seen us at the Genius Bar one too many times). A new patent published today shows how Apple could make iPhone buttons waterproof. Looking at an iPhone, most of it is sealed quite tightly, but it's vulnerable to water damage at its charging port, speaker ports, and buttons, where small crevices can let water seep underneath its glass and aluminum shell. But, in a patent filing uncovered by Patently Apple, Apple could protect against this threat by positioning iPhone buttons atop a sealed, watertight shelf. This button retainer could lock into place inside your iPhone, trapping moisture and keeping it from permeating deeper into the phone's circuitry. Now, why didn't we think of that? Fortunate as this news is, Apple is actually late to the game when it comes to waterproofing. Numerous Android phones, including the Sony Xperia Z3 and last year's Samsung Galaxy S 5, claim to be waterproof (the Samsung Galaxy S 6, we should note, merely claims to be water resistant). But, up until now, plugs and covers for buttons and ports have been the primary means for protecting smartphones from water damage. If Apple does debut a waterproof iPhone in the future, it would appear that the company wants a more elegant solution than that (naturally).  Case in point, last month, another patent showed that Apple could potentially protect delicate internal circuit components by coating them with a hydrophobic material. In fact, Apple has been investigating various techniques for waterproofing smartphones since 2010, like this mobile charging-port design, which would resemble the MacBook Pro and Air's sealed, magnetic charging dock. Apple patent filings always offer a fascinating sneak peek at what the company is working on internally. However, Apple files tons of them, so there is no guarantee that what we see published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will ever actually make it into a future iPhone. But, we can still hope. 

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