Apple could be working on a way to make future iPhones waterproof, according to a recently unearthed patent.
Filled in June of 2014 and made public earlier this week, U.S., patent application 2015035774 reveals Apple is experimenting on a “self-healing elastomer”. Essentially, this material is a type of rubber that is able to alter and then regain its shape. Based on what the patent says, Apple intends to build an iPhone that integrates the material into the design of its external ports. In the case of a Lightning port, for instance, the elastic material will be able to shrink and open up when a connecter is inserted into the port and then recover its shape after the cable is pulled out, protecting the port against the elements while it is closed.
According to The Verge, certain varieties of elastomer are capable of keeping out a variety of substances, including dust, dirt, water and gas, meaning future iterations of the iPhone could be a lot more durable than their predecessors.
Indeed, making the iPhone more resistant to water and other materials appears to be a long term plan for Apple.
Following the release of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, several different new iPhone owners put their smartphone into a container of water and found it survived the dip. A subsequent iFixit teardown of the two smartphones revealed the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus feature at least one waterproofing feature previous iPhones do not. The new iPhones include an elastic gasket inside of their case, which helps in making them more resistant to water. However, compared to older models, Apple did not make the ports any more resistant to water than they had been in the past.
Thus, this patent could be the missing piece of the puzzle in Apple’s quest to make a more waterproof iPhone.