Lost iPhone 12 still works after spending three months at the bottom of a California river

Pacific Blue iPhone 12 Pro stacked on top of Midnight Green iPhone 11 Pro on a navy blue placemat
(Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

Have you ever wondered how water-resistant an iPhone is? Well, this iPhone 12 spent 3 months at the bottom of a Northern Californian river and still works.

AppleInsider reports that a reader named Lee reached out to tell the story of the iPhone 12 he discovered covered in algae after spending months at the bed of a river.

Lee told AI that he was cleaning the Stanislaus River, looking for salmon, and instead of a fish, he found an iPhone “coated in a layer of algae amongst some rocks.”

“Lee cleaned up the iPhone 12 and set it aside to dry out for a few days. On November 16, he managed to power it on after connecting a charger.”

That’s pretty incredible, considering Apple only rates the iPhone 12 with IP68 water resistance, meaning the iPhone should survive a water depth of 6 meters for up to 30 minutes.

Lee powered on the device, and as the iPhone had no passcode, he was able to see that the “most recent item in the Photos app was a video captured on the river on September 4, suggesting it had been submerged there for three months.“

While he hasn’t been able to find the person who lost the smartphone, Lee is reaching out to contacts in the Phone app to see if he can find the iPhone’s long-lost owner.

Survival skills

To think an iPhone has spent at least 3 months at the bottom of the Stanislaus River is absolutely mindblowing. While no one should attempt to test the water resistance of an iPhone, it’s an incredible tale that shows just how durable the iPhone 12 and newer models are.

Apple added a Titanium chassis to the best iPhones this year, and the iPhone 15 Pro has the same IP68 rating as the iPhone 12 in question here. Lee’s story is a testament to Apple’s hardware design that these smartphones are so durable despite being a glass sandwich.

More from iMore

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.