While Apple didn’t make any claims about water-resistance when it launched the iPhone 6s/Plus, submersion tests showed that the company has clearly been working hard in this area – with the new phones still working after a full hour underwater. But water will always get in through ports like the Lightning and headphone sockets, and a new patent application by Apple suggests that it may have a way to fix this …

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The patent application, filed today, is for a ‘self-healing elastomer’ covering the ports. The idea is that when you plug in a cable, the elastomer deforms to allow access to the port, and then closes the opening once the cable is removed.

An electronic device has a self-healing elastomer applied over one or more external electronic connectors. The self-healing elastomer may obscure the electronic connectors from the user as well as provide environmental protection for the connector and the electronic device. Electronic probes may temporarily penetrate the self-healing elastomer to mate with the electronic connector. After removal of the probes the self-healing elastomer may elastically reform and self-heal.

Business Insider annotated one of the patent drawings to illustrate.

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As ever, we note that Apple patents all kinds of ideas that never see the light of day, but given the steps the company has already taken toward far greater water-resistance, this one may be more likely than most to make it into a future iPhone.

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