A number of new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus users took it into their heads to do some water resistance testing of their new devices, and to their surprise the devices proved to be more water-resistant than previous models. The teardown team at iFixit took notice and decided to revisit the devices to see if they could discover what is leading to the new handsets new water resisting ways.
So, what changed? After disassembling a couple of new iPhones in the name of science, here’s what we found.
First, Apple takes this gasket business pretty seriously: they didn’t just run a strip of glue around the existing display like they were caulking a bathtub. Instead, it appears the iPhone’s frame has been subtly reworked to accommodate the new gasket. We noted a slight, but measurable, increase in the width of the lip running along the perimeter of the frame—it’s about 0.3 mm wider than on the iPhone 6, making it just wide enough for that little gasket to land on. One-third of a millimeter may not seem like much, but given how tight the iPhone’s tolerances are nowadays, the change is big enough to see with the naked eye. And it’s almost certainly enough of a change that other components had to be subtly tweaked to match. Make no mistake, Apple gave this careful thought.
iFixit says even the logic boards of the new iPhones appear to be tweaked, at least partially to aid in protecting against liquid leaking in. All of the cable connectors on the logic board are also surrounded and reinforced with a small silicone barrier.
Apple’s changes in the 6s and 6s Plus handsets appear to have been part of an effort to at least slow down any liquids intrusion into the devices. So, while you likely can’t drop one in the toilet or swimming pool, you might get away with spilling liquids on it, or using it in a heavy downpour.
Rumors have already started about next year’s “iPhone 7,” which say the next-generation handset will boast a fully waterproof chassis. We think we’ll wait until next year to do any in-depth reports on that rumor.