Apple has filed for a patent (number 10,158,191) designed to make its iPhones and iPads even more water resistant, perhaps even waterproof, by providing a “vacuum sealed connector” for Lightning, USB-C ports, and other ports.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that, on portable devices, the audio jack, data and power connectors are usually located on the external surface. However, as such devices become more indispensable to users, they’re used in increasingly harsh environments and are likely to be exposed to moisture or debris that may result in liquid or debris ingression into the connectors and/or the electronic device.
This may result in damage within the connector and possibly damage to circuitry within the electronic device. Apple says that protection of the electronic device and/or accessories from such environmental damage can enable new applications for the electronic device and/or accessories.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “A vacuum generator is included within an accessory or an electronic device and generates a vacuum seal within mated connectors of the accessory and the electronic device to protect against ingression of moisture and/or debris. A vacuum release valve is used to break the vacuum seal and allow the accessory to be demated from the electronic device. A sensor is used to monitor the vacuum level.”
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.