Waterproof phones aren’t really a novelty, as we have seen important tech players of industry offer products bundled with such capabilities.
Well, Apple seems to be the latest device maker looking to get on board the waterproof bandwagon. The company has been spotted filing a new patent called “Methods for shielding electronic components from moisture” with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The process outlined in the documents involves coating sensitive components inside the device with something that’s being touted as vapor disposition technology. Also solder leads will be protected using silicone seals.
Instead of coating the entire device, Apple’s way of doing things is to provide coating for components like the printed circuit board (PCB).
The hydrophobic coating can be as thin as a micron and the process entails placing the part in a chamber filled with fluoropolymer gas and then applying voltage to it so that the gas turns into plasma. The resulted polymer will then remain attached to the component.
The technique has faced a few challenges. For example, internal structures like the electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding may not allow the hydrophobic coating to cover them all.
However, Apple engineers have managed to solve this problem by inflicting small openings in the shielding and applying the plasma adhering process. Last but not least, EMI shield patches are slapped onto the previously opened holes.
Other components that might get damaged from making contact with water are the board-to-board connectors.
The patent explains that the solder leads might protrude out of the connector’s fitting, thus making them vulnerable to corrosion and short circuit events. This issue is solved by applying silicone seals on the receptacle side of a given connector.
As is the case with any patent, for the time being we’re really not sure whether Apple plans to use this technology inside its upcoming products or it’s just experimenting.
It’s surely quite interesting to see this patent surface, especially in the wake of Samsung rolling out the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge models without waterproofing capabilities (mind you, the Galaxy S5 was waterproof). On top of that, it appears that Sony next-gen Sony Xperia Z4 won’t be waterproof either.
Will the iPhone 6s manage to fill that gap?