How To Use an iPhone for Snorkeling & Waterproof Cases

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Most recent models of iPhone are advertised as water-resistant.

In a popular commercial for the iPhone 12, a messy home cook is seen dropping the phone, splashing it with water, and covering it in all kinds of mess.

You could be forgiven for thinking that it was completely waterproof and capable of snapping pictures underwater, but that’s not quite true.

If you have an iPhone, regardless of the model, make sure you read this guide before you take that expensive gadget snorkeling.

Photo Title Price Buy
Universal Waterproof Case,Hiearcool...image Universal Waterproof Case,Hiearcool Waterproof Phone Pouch Compatible for iPhone 13 12 11 Pro Max XS Max Samsung Galaxy s10 Google Up to 7.0", IPX8 Cellphone Dry Bag for Vacation-2 Pack $9.99
Professional [15m/50ft] Snorkeling...image Professional [15m/50ft] Snorkeling Underwater Phone case Swimming Diving Case Photo Video Waterproof Protective Housing for Galaxy and iPhone Series Smartphones with Lanyard (Black-Blue) $45.99
SPORTLINK Waterproof Case...image SPORTLINK Waterproof Case for iPhone 11, Full Body Heavy Duty Protection Full Sealed Cover Shockproof Dustproof Built-in Clear Screen Protector Rugged Case for iPhone 11 6.1 Inch $18.99
Syncwire Waterproof Phone...image Syncwire Waterproof Phone Pouch [2-Pack] - Universal IPX8 Waterproof Phone Case Dry Bag with Lanyard Compatible with iPhone 13/12/11 Pro XS MAX XR X 8 7 6 Plus Samsung S22 S20 and More Up to 7 Inches $11.99

Can You Use an iPhone When Snorkeling?

The simple answer is no. iPhones are water-resistant, but that doesn’t mean you can snorkel or scuba dive with them.

To understand why, there are two things that you need to know.

The first is that “waterproof” and “water-resistant” are two completely different things.

If something is “waterproof”, it means that it is impervious to water whether it’s splashed, poured, or submerged.

If something is “water-resistant”, it can still protect against water, but only to a limited degree.

The second thing concerns the IP code, which was created by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to measure an electrical device’s resistance to water and other materials (including sand and dust).

What is the iPhone’s IP Rating?

All iPhone models before the iPhone 7 did not have IP ratings.

They were still water-resistant to a degree and this improved as the models and technology progressed, but there are no guarantees.

As for the later iPhone models, the IP ratings are as follows:

  • iPhone 7 = IP67
  • iPhone 7 Plus = IP67
  • iPhone 8 = IP67
  • iPhone 8 Plus = IP67
  • iPhone X = IP67
  • iPhone XR = IP67
  • iPhone XS = IP68
  • iPhone XS Max = IP68
  • iPhone 11 (all models) = IP68
  • iPhone 12 (all models) = IP68
  • iPhone SE = IP67

At a glance, you can probably tell that the later models (IP68) have more water resistance than the earlier ones (IP67), but those numbers won’t mean anything if you don’t know how the rating system works.

Speaking of which…

How the IP Rating System Works

The IP rating system uses two numbers. If we take the iPhone 12 (IP68) as an example, these numbers are the “6” and the “8”.

The first number displays the phone’s level of protection against solids, such as dirt and sand.

It is scored on a scale of 1 to 6 (with 6 being the highest) and the iPhone’s rating suggests that it has complete protection from harmful dust.

The second number references water protection.

This is scored from 1 to 8 (with 8 being the highest) and means that the iPhone 12 is protected against immersion of more than 1 meter.

As for the IP67 models, they are protected for immersion up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

If you’re thinking “great, snorkeling should be less than a meter so I can take my iPhone with me”…think again.

Why You Can’t Take Your iPhone Snorkeling

The IP rating only concerns fresh water. It doesn’t account for salt water, soda, coffee, and other substances.

What’s more, the testing is performed under laboratory conditions and it doesn’t account for the chemicals (natural or otherwise) in the sea, river, or swimming pool.

Apple doesn’t make its phones water-resistant so that you can show off your underwater photography skills.

It’s so that the device doesn’t break down just because of a little perspiration, rain, or because you splashed it while cooking or washing your hands.

Can You Take Underwater Pictures with an iPhone?

As noted above, you shouldn’t take your iPhone underwater.

It is not completely waterproof and there is no guarantee that it will be operational when you emerge.

But while there is no such thing as a waterproof iPhone, there is such a thing as a waterproof iPhone casino.

If you have one of these cases, then you can definitely take your iPhone underwater.

The Best Waterproof Cases for All iPhone Models

If you want to partake in some underwater photography, you’re going to need a waterproof housing case.

To help you in your search, we have listed some of the best waterproof iPhone cases below.

Before you buy a waterproof case, remember to stick with reputable brands and well-reviewed products.

That case is the only thing stopping your phone from meeting a watery end.

Willbox Professional iPhone Waterproof Cases

Willbox Professional [15m/50ft] Diving Surfing Swimming Snorkeling Photo Video Waterproof Protective Case Underwater Housing for Galaxy and iPhone Series Smartphones with Lanyard (Orange)

Check Out Willbox Underwater Phone Cases on Amazon.

We’ve used the Willbox and liked it a lot. It’s easy to put your iPhone in and out of and has a good seal from our experience.

Willbox Professional waterproof cases are designed for most models of iPhone and Samsung and are made with underwater photography in mind.

They come with a very useful lanyard that doubles as a wrist strap and makes it easier to get the picture you want and not lose your phone in the process as it keeps the phone attached to your wrist.

If you want a solid underwater case for about $40, you can’t go wrong with this brand.

Tip: Save the box. You will want to store the Willbox in it when it is not in use. Also, the box is great to use if you want to pack your Willbox for a trip. It will help protect the Willbox from damage during your travels.

The Temdan Waterproof Phone Cash (for iPhone 12 Pro Max)

Temdan Compatible with iPhone 12 Pro Max Case Waterproof,Clear Sound Quality Built in Screen Protector IP68 Waterproof Full Body Heavy Duty Shockproof Case for iPhone 12 Pro Max 6.7 inch (2020)

Find the Temdan Waterproof Case on Amazon.

The Temdan waterproof case is very easy to install and is currently listed for less than $20 on Amazon.

It’s not the best waterproof iPhone case on the market, but if you’re on a budget and need something simple, you can’t go wrong. It’s also available in a variety of colors.

The Ghostek Nautical Waterproof iPhone Case (for iPhone 12 Max, Pro Max, and Mini)

Ghostek NAUTICAL Heavy-Duty iPhone 11 Pro Max Waterproof Case Screen Protector Built-In Full Body Shockproof Protection Tough Hard Phone Cover Designed for 2019 Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max (6.5inch) (Red)

Find the Ghostek Waterproof Case on Amazon.

Although it’s a little pricey at $50, the Ghostek is a very well-built waterproof case that will keep your device secure and protected.

There is a raised bevel to protect the camera lens and flash, and easy access to the camera controls means you can freely snap pictures underwater.

The Ghostek waterproof case comes with a screen protector and is compatible with wireless chargers.

OtterBox Defender Waterproof iPhone Cases (for Most New Models)

OTTERBOX DEFENDER SERIES SCREENLESS EDITION Case for iPhone Xs Max - Retail Packaging - BIG SUR (PALE BEIGE/CORSAIR)

Check Out OtterBox on Amazon.

OtterBox sells a variety of premium waterproof phone cases, including a selection compatible with the latest iPhone models.

They are the most expensive cases on this list, but you get what you pay for and they also happen to be some of the most highly reviewed.

OtterBox waterproof phone cases feature military-grade materials to protect against dust and water.

There are a variety of colors to choose from and they include a belt-clip holster that also doubles as a kickstand.

DiverBox Waterproof Phone Cases for iPhone SE

Diverbox iPhone SE 2020 Waterproof Case iPhone 8 Waterproof Case,Waterproof Shockproof IP68 Full-Body Sturdy Case Built-in Screen Protector, Durable Underwater for Full Sealed Cover 4.7 in (Black)

Check Out DiverBox Waterproof Cases on Amazon.

DiverBox has some very reasonably priced waterproof iPhone cases designed for the new SE model.

They are currently listed for just $20 or so and there are several different color options.