Is the iPhone Xs Max waterproof?

Just how waterproof is the iPhone Xs Max?

TL;DR: no, not 100% - best to have a waterproof case solution.

iPhone Xs Max with transparent water droplets at the front

Do you still need a waterproof phone case? Along with upgrades to Apple’s iOS software and photography features, the new latest iPhone models boast an IP68 waterproof rating. This sounds great for those brave enough to take their new iPhone Xs and Xs Max to the beach or pool. But don’t think that the iPhone Xs Max can handle all your watery adventures.

Evolution comes at a cost. Starting at $1,099, the iPhone Xs Max is quite an investment. In Apple’s own words, these new devices take iPhone features and materials “to the extreme.” With a 6.5-inch diagonal display, this “extreme” is especially true for the iPhone Xs Max. Faster computing power and longer battery life are paired with even more durable glass and stainless steel casing than previous iPhones. These premium construction and capabilities should mean a smartphone with a longer lifespan. All these features considered, such a powerful and tough device might justify the big price tag for a lot of people. Especially when compared to earlier models, the iPhone has come a long way in terms of processing power and durability.

Another exciting feature announced for the new iPhones is a waterproof rating of IP68. Our team at Catalyst is no stranger to IP ratings. For those of you out of the loop, this refers to a standard of protection against tiny materials and particles from outside your device. A rating of IP68 means that the iPhone Xs Max has been tested to withstand splash, water, and dust in a laboratory setting. This typically means 2 meters of water for 30 minutes. As such, the iPhone Xs Max actually meets the waterproof limits of a lot of waterproof cases out there. But that doesn’t mean that it’s safe on all your adventures.

While the iPhone Xs Max has “extreme” computing and photography capabilities, it doesn’t promise complete protection from the elements. You’ll find that beyond most dust, splashes, and 2 meters of water, you should also consider a case to protect your $1,000 investment. Even with this high IP rating, a little bit of water damage may very well throw you and your iPhone Xs Max off the deep end.

 whale saving iphone

Don't expect a whale to save your device every time

iPhone Xs Max Waterproof Limits

Smartphones have come a long way since the days of delicate and fidgety screens and casings. The new iPhones are one such example of these improvements in durability up to IP68. Leaving an iPhone in a bowl of water for 30 minutes is admittedly a marvel of technology. Grains of sand and drops of water could easily damage some previous iPhone models, with many of us placing them into crude plastic bags when at the beach. This new level of IP68 water and dust protection is a step up from those dark ages.

IP68 is the maximum standard of lab testing for protection from dust and water. This rating means that your iPhone Xs Max is safe from rain and accidental drops in the sink or toilet. It may also remain usable after a dunk in the pool. You can find many iPhone torture tests online, soaking iPhones in water, soda, beer, and other liquids. Increased waterproof capabilities is the growing norm across all smartphone brands, from Apple to Samsung and beyond.

But don’t go off thinking that your iPhone is safe from water in all situations. Always remember that the iPhone Xs Max is water resistant, not waterproof. For those without cases, the days of leaving wet phones in bags of rice overnight may not be over. While iPhones have quite a tight seal, there are still entry points for water on the phone, whether it enters through the charging port, speaker components, or other means.

A naked iPhone Xs Max is certainly not safe beyond the recommended depths of 2 meters, and there is still a risk of damage during other activities involving water. If that risk isn’t enough, Apple also warns against too much confidence while handling your iPhone around water:

Splash, water, and dust resistance are not permanent conditions and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear. Do not attempt to charge a wet iPhone; refer to the user guide for cleaning and drying instructions. Liquid damage not covered under warranty.

Additionally, the iPhone Xs Max waterproof capabilities may be further reduced over time. Without a case offering effective drop protection, drops and damage may open tiny cracks for water to enter, damaging its sensitive electronics. Even if not immediately broken, charging a wet iPhone can also be disastrous, frying your $1K electronic investment. While super high-tech, iPhones are not indestructible machines (yet).

Though your iPhone Xs Max may resist splashes or even submersion early on, regular wear and tear may leave your phone and wallet broken as repairs or replacement are both very expensive. From drops to scratches to bends to submersion, an iPhone Xs Max can only take so much damage before something goes noticeably awry. You would ideally have a case over your phone to protect from continuous overall damage. This is more reasonable than expecting a naked iPhone to be invulnerable on its own.

Luckily, cases are now the norm anyways, with some cases offering far more protection than the minimum protection offered after lab testing. This allows you to take some of your favorite devices with you on all your adventures. While cases do add a bit of bulk to slim smartphones, this bit of added protection can make all the difference in keeping your shiny new iPhone Xs Max fresh and fully functioning.

 flip phones at the bottom of a pool

What to look for in the best iPhone Xs Max waterproof cases

With so many different rugged cases to choose from, it’s hard to choose the best of the best. A lot of cases provide at least a little bit of surface or drop protection from day-to-day damage, but this may not be enough to keep your expensive iPhone Xs Max totally safe from all damage. Though drop proof and waterproof cases do add a bit of width and bulk to iPhones and other devices, it’s a necessary trade-off to protect your investment.

Another consideration is that not all cases are created equal in terms of protection: while many meet the minimum IP68 requirements, a lot of phone cases only provide the same protection as a naked iPhone. Very few exceed 2 meters of submersion for longer periods of time. You should also look for a phone case that does not make your iPhone Xs Max more difficult to use. Some cases make the OLED display screen harder to see, the camera lens much darker, the speakers more muffled, and the buttons less responsive.

 Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone Xs Max showing homescreen

Why choose Catalyst Case?

All these design features considered, the Catalyst Waterproof Case for iPhone Xs Max has all the protective features to secure your iPhone without sacrificing too many capabilities. It offers IP68 protection up to 33ft (10m) of water submersion, as well as 6.6ft (2m) of drop protection. Catalyst cases are slimmer than many other protection cases, with easy-to-use buttons, patented mute switch knob, and clear and slim case features. They also allow wireless charging for the newer iPhone models. This exceeds most protection standards, making the Catalyst case the most suitable for adventurers and people with active lifestyles. For all your adventure needs, the Catalyst Impact Case and Waterproof Case for iPhone Xs Max have got you covered.


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