Apple’s warranty coverage has long come under scrutiny. But now it’s making some folks dig deeper into exactly what “water resistance” actually means.
In a footnote on its iPhone 7 page, Apple reveals that the smartphone’s standard warranty does not cover “liquid damage.” The policy follows previous iPhone models, which also weren’t generally covered when they were rendered useless or damaged after getting a dunk in water.
However, this scenario is a bit different than others.
At its press event on Wednesday, Apple announced that the iPhone 7 is water-resistant and passes an industry-standard test with a rating of IP67. The rating means that the iPhone can not only hold up against a certain amount of dust, but can also remain operational when it’s immersed in water of up to about one meter in depth for up to 30 minutes. The International Electrotechnical Commission sets and maintains the standards.
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Apple (AAPL), which conducted the testing to determine where its iPhone 7 would fall in the ratings, says in its own footnote that the smartphone is “splash, waster and dust resistant,” but cautions that the smartphone can hold up in those conditions as long as they “are not permanent.”
Apple adds one component to its footnote: “Liquid damage (is) not covered under warranty.”
In other words, a smartphone that can get wet and is designed to withstand at least some water submersion won’t come with a warranty on any damage that might be caused by that water. In order to be covered, customers will need to pay the additional $129 for the AppleCare+ warranty extension program.
At first blush, that might surprise prospective iPhone 7 owners. After all, Apple is saying that its iPhone 7 will be fine under certain conditions in water, but won’t cover any damage that might be caused by that water.
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Further inspection reveals Apple might be on to something. Offering a liquid-damage warranty on the iPhone 7’s standard warranty means Apple needing to pay for any type of water intrusion. It could also make users less careful when handling the iPhone 7 around water. After all, if it can be replaced for free, why not bring it around a pool?
Apple’s water-proofing technology is really just a way for customers who accidentally drop the iPhone 7 in small amounts of water to have the peace of mind knowing they won’t need to replace the handset. Beyond that, as water levels rise and pressure increases, users are putting their iPhone 7 smartphones in undue risk. Perhaps understandably, Apple doesn’t want to have to pay for that.
So, even if the iPhone 7 is classified as “water-resistant,” be careful. If it lands in deep water, the iPhone 7 will be in deep trouble.