Patent reveals future iPhones could get this key Apple Watch feature

Apple Watch Water Lock
Apple Watch Water Lock (Image credit: The Slow Mo Guys)

What you need to know

  • A new Apple patent reveals a big new feature could be coming to future iPhones.
  • Apple has filed for a water-ejection system, the kind it currently uses on Apple Watch.
  • It uses sensors and the iPhone's speakers to generate a magnetic field that can expel moisture.

A newly-published Apple patent has revealed that Apple may be planning to add its water ejection feature from Apple Watch to an iPhone of the future.

Apple Watch uses a technology called Water Lock to stop your Apple Watch from receiving accidental input whilst you're in water. More impressively, when you're finished, you can use the Apple Watch's Digital Crown to eject water from the device's speaker to prevent damage and ensure clear audio as you carry on about your day. You can see the tech in action in this Slow Mo Guys Video.

Now, a new patent from Apple suggests this feature may one day make its way to iPhone. The patent is titled 'Systems for increased drying of speaker and sensor components that are exposed to moisture' and its description states:

The described embodiments relate generally to systems for removing moisture from an internal cavity of a portable electronic device. More particularly, the described embodiments relate to systems that utilize a speaker to increase drying of an internal cavity of a portable electronic device previously exposed to moisture.

Apple Iphone Water Lock

Apple Iphone Water Lock (Image credit: USPTO)

The patent notes that many functions of electronic devices suffer when exposed to moisture and that accordingly "there is a need to expedite removal of the moisture within internal cavities of the portable electronic device in order to quickly resume performing these user functions."

The patent describes an electronic device with cavities (such as an iPhone speaker) that house sensors to detect moisture within the cavity. If moisture is detected, the technology can use a magnetic field to expel water from the cavity through an opening. From the patent:

The housing is capable of carrying operational components within the cavity that include a processor capable of providing instructions and a moisture removal system in communication with the processor. The moisture removal system includes a sensor capable of (i) detecting an amount of moisture within the cavity, and (ii) generating a moisture parameter based on the detected amount of moisture... The moisture removal system further includes an opening disposed at an external surface of the housing, where the opening defines a passage such that when moisture is present within the cavity, the magnetic coil element receives the instructions from the processor to generate the magnetic field that causes the diaphragm to actuate so as to remove at least some of the moisture within the cavity via the passage.

As per most patents, the wording is pretty dry, but the message is clear. Apple is at least considering adding some embodiment of its Water Lock and moisture expulsion technology currently found in the Apple Watch to a future iPhone. This is just a patent, so there's no guarantee it will ever make it to an iPhone, and we certainly wouldn't expect to see this in next month's iPhone 12.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9