Apple is being sued in New York in an attempted class-action complaint over water resistance, with the claim it misrepresented how resistant to liquid the iPhone is in its marketing.
Like many smartphone manufacturers, Apple includes a level of water resistance in its iPhone lineup, with the claimed level of resistance increasing in recent years. There have also been stories where iPhones dropped in lakes are retrieved months later in working order, even without any extra water protection.
However, a lawsuit filed on Saturday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York claims Apple is overstating the water-resistive capabilities of its hardware.
Listed as a “class action complaint” and with Antoinette Smith listed as the plaintiff “on behalf of all others similarly situated,” the 13-page filing takes aim at Apple’s references to water resistance. For example, the iPhone 7 was marketed as having “IP67” protection, offering maximum water resistance to a depth of 1 meter (3.3 feet) for up to 30 minutes.
For the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max, Apple labels them as rated to IP68, but with an enhanced claim of surviving depths of up to 4 meters (13.1 feet) for up to 30 minutes. The iPhone 12 pushes the claim even further, at 6 meters (19.7 feet) for half an hour.
However, the lawsuit points out these are “insufficiently qualified by fine print disclaimers,” with certification levels based on lab tests with static and pure water, unlike pool or sea water. “This means that consumers who stand at the edge of a pool or ocean and whose devices are splashed or temporarily immersed, will be denied coverage, because the water contained chlorine or salt,” the suit reads.
Furthermore, the warranty is said not to cover damage caused by liquids, usually signified by a liquid contact indicator turning red.
The suit says Apple’s suggestion to rinse areas of an iPhone that have been in contact with common liquids, like juices or coffee, could introduce liquid in ways that could turn the indicator red. It is alleged that this activity can be used to deny warranty coverage.
In the case of plaintiff Smith, who is described as a citizen of Bronx County, she is said to have bought the iPhone 8, which experienced contact with water “consistent with the IP rating of her device and consistent with how the water-resistant attributes were presented in the marketing and advertising of the device.”