Apple patent filing hints at waterproof iPhones

There are rumors that the iPhone 7 will be water proof. They may be right. Apple has filed for a patent (number 20160004283) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for “electronic devices with submersion detection circuitry.”

The invention is for an electronic device that may include submersion detection circuitry for detecting when it’s submerged in water or other liquids. The submersion detection circuitry may include a barometric pressure sensor that gathers air pressure information. Control circuitry in the electronic device may monitor the air pressure sensor for sharp changes in air pressure indicating that the electronic device has been dropped or submerged in water. 

Various actions may be taken in response to determining that the iPhone is in water. If’s not intended to operate underwater, a power management unit may automatically power down electrical components in the electronic device in response to determining that the electronic device is in water. If the device is intended to operate underwater, control circuitry may determine and track a water depth level at which the electronic device is submerged based on the air pressure information.

In the patent filing, Apple says that some portable electronic devices are designed to maintain some functionality even when underwater. However, such electronic devices are typically only functional within a certain depth of water and are prone to failure if submerged below that depth. For this reason, Apple says it would be “desirable to be able to provide electronic device with improved water protection systems.”