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 …
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.
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.