iPhones have been pretty water resistant for some time – the iPhone 7 was the first to introduce IP67 water resistance, and that jumped to IP68 with the iPhone 11 and later. However, there’s a common misunderstanding between water resistance and waterproofing, especially when it comes to smartphones.
While recent iPhones can technically be submerged for up to 30 minutes, it’s only resistant up to a few meters and it’s certainly not recommended by Apple. As such, water damage can still void your warranty, leaving you with an expensive soggy brick.
That’s usually down to elements like water pressure, chemicals in the water reacting with your phone, the breakdown of the waterproof seal over time and much more. That means that the iPhone isn’t really designed to be taken into a swimming pool or down to the seabed – at least not in its ‘naked’ form.
The question is, if the iPhone isn’t really designed to go underwater, how do you take cool underwater photos on your iPhone? Here are a few tips and tricks if you want to take top-quality shots underwater and avoid waterlogging your iPhone.
Invest in a waterproof case
With the above in mind, it should come as no surprise that the biggest piece of advice we can give on taking underwater photos with your iPhone is to invest in a waterproof case.
These come in all shapes and sizes depending on what you need, ranging from cheap watertight bags like the $8.99/£10.99 Unbreakable waterproof case that’ll keep your iPhone dry to more specialized cases like the $52.99/£45.99 Shellbox waterproof case dedicated to underwater photography, providing access to physical buttons to activate the camera shutter and a high-quality lens cover.
Some even allow you to interact with your touchscreen underwater – something particularly handy for underwater photography.
Prepare your shooting settings
Before you get into the water, be sure to set your iPhone’s camera settings. Why? Simply put, you’re unable to interact with your iPhone’s touchscreen when it’s submerged – in fact, without a case, it’ll register the water touching the screen as a tap input. That could be chaotic underwater.
There are some cases that negate the input issue, as highlighted above, but they’re still difficult to use underwater.
With that in mind, select the resolution of images or videos, select any filters you might want to apply and any other tweaks you want to make before you submerge yourself and your iPhone.
This also goes for exposure and focus, as you won’t be able to adjust these underwater. For the best results, apply a focus lock to the farthest thing in the distance you can see before getting into the water.
Think about lighting
As with taking photos on land, lighting is extremely important when it comes to underwater photography. In fact, with the refraction of light and other underwater properties, it can be much more difficult to get a well-lit shot.
The best advice is to take photos on bright sunny days where underwater environments will be well-lit, and you can also try shooting upwards towards the surface for extra background light.
If that’s not possible, don’t use your iPhone’s built-in flash to illuminate the scene. Most cases cover the camera housing, so the light from your flash will reflect off the exterior cover and render images useless.
Instead, consider investing in a dive torch like the $119.99/£69.99 Wurkkos Diving Torch to provide better lighting underwater.
The best photos are taken with a steady hand, and this also applies to underwater photography.
It can be a little harder depending on currents, so we’d recommend picking up a cheap monopod that’ll hold your phone securely in place as you take your stunning underwater imagery.
Using a three-second timer to take photos on your iPhone is another option, as using the physical volume buttons to capture images can create a slight wobble.
Though not directly related to taking photos underwater, it’s also worth pointing out that clothing can make a big difference to the underwater shooting experience.
Aside from feeling more comfortable underwater, it’s useful to have pockets to store your iPhone or any other accessories you might need.
Dry your iPhone completely
Once you’re back on dry land, it’s worth completely drying your iPhone to remove any residue from the water.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
It’s also recommended you don’t charge your iPhone for a couple of hours as water might’ve gotten into the charging port, and as we all know, water and electronics do not mix.
Now you’ve got all the information you need, what are you waiting for? Be sure to tag us in your epic underwater shots on Twitter and Instagram.