Blog Post

How to make sure your iPhone is ready for the beach

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

A true convergent device, the iPhone can serve many purposes on a summer vacation to the beach, like using it to listen to music while relaxing in the sun, or as a camera to take family photos. But we often forget that we are basically taking a sophisticated computer to the beach, not a simple walkman or snapshot camera of days gone by. The following serves as a guide of things one should consider when taking a complex piece of electronic equipment into the sandy, saltwater laden, hot environment at the shore.

Dealing with screen glare

Dealing with screen glare

Polarized sunglasses – You may have noticed that viewing your iOS device with your sunglasses on either changes the color of the display or makes the screen go completely dark. Not all sunglasses have the same effect. This effect happens primarily with certain polarized sunglasses. It all depends on what is know as the angle of extinction that was used to polarize the lens of the glasses. For both the iPhone and the iPad, you can try something as simple as rotating the device from portrait to landscape and vise versa. If that does not work, you can try using a different pair of sunglasses.

Glare screens and cases – Adding a protective screen cover can cut down on the glare and make things more bearable in direct sunlight. Some screen covers like the Tru Protection anti-glare screen protector for $15 offer a minimalist approach and only cover the screen, leaving the ‘raw’ iPhone look intact. Other cases have screen protectors built-in like the OtterBox Preserver for $89. The advantage the Preserver has is that it will also protect the iPhone from the sand and water.

Tents and shades – There are times when you must use either your iPhone or iPad when in direct sunlight. You could try draping a beach towel over your head or some other article of clothing to provide enough shade to make things visible. Or you could consider using either the HoodiVision for $36.95 or the iClipse for $29.95. Either will provide shade and help eliminate screen glare from the sun on a bright day, and both were designed specifically for the iPad. For the iPhone you could look for something like the Diff Outdoor Sunshade and case.

Avoid the heat

Avoid the heat

Safe operating temperature – Apple recommends that iOS devices should only be used when the ambient temperature is between 32 degrees to 95 degrees F (0 degrees and 35 degrees C). They can be stored at temperatures between –4 degrees to 113 degrees F (–20 degrees and 45 degrees C). If you are thinking that it might be better to keep your iPhone in the car, don’t. According to the Weather Channel temperatures can soar to as high as 138 degrees F (58 degrees C) inside an automobile when the outside temperate is just 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). When things do get too hot to handle, a warning message will appear indicating that the device must cool down before it can be used again.

Do not charge – The short answer is simple: don’t charge your iOS device at the beach. While it is perfectly normal for the device to feel warm to the touch when charging, bringing a remote battery charger with you or using a battery case to charge the device when the temperature is hot outside is not a good idea. Leaving it in a car to charge while you go to out to have fun would not be advisable as well. You best bet is to move to a cooler location if you need to charge the device.

Power off the device – During normal operations, there are a lot of reasons that your iOS device can run hot. Coincidentally these are the same operations that can run the battery down; GPS tracking and navigation, playing graphically intensive games, or trying to connect to a cellular or Wi-Fi network when you are just about out of range of the nearest tower or access point. As things do get hot, the device will attempt to regulate its internal temperature by degrading performance, using less power, and eventually displaying an error message indicating that the temperature is just too hot. If this happens turn off the device and get it to a location where it can cool off.

Sand and water hazards

Sand and water hazards

Checking for water damage – When you do happen to get your iPhone wet, the best thing you can do is to turn it off immediately (press and hold the sleep/wake button) and insert it into a zip lock bag filled with silica gel packets for at least 24 to 36 hours. Try not to use rice or kitty litter to absorb the moisture as the tiny particles and dust can actually get lodged in the headphone jack. Also do not use heat in any form to dry out your iPhone. Once time has passed, you can check to see if the Liquid Contact Indicators have changed color to bright red, indicating that the device has come into contact with water. If they have, it is likely that any damage that has been done will not be covered by Apple’s warranty.

Waterproof cases – While there are cases you can get that offer varying degrees of protection from water damage (mentioned earlier), I typically don’t want to keep such cases on my device all of the time. Instead I have come to rely on a more temporary solution like using either a Aquapac Mini or Micro Whanganui for $30. These pouches will fit the iPhone snugly and seal tight and can be used to fully submerge your into the water to capture some amazing under water photos and videos. There is even a Medium Whanganui for the iPad mini and a larger Waterproof case for the iPad.

Bags and pouches – Aquapac also has a series of stormproof Drybags and Drysacks that you can use if you are looking to keep more than one device safe at the beach. Even keeping a smaller utility bag in your beach bag along side your towels, sunscreen and flip-flops will help keep both the sand and the sea from affecting your devices. Keeping the iPhone out of the direct sunlight will also help to keep it cool.

6 Responses to “How to make sure your iPhone is ready for the beach”

  1. Bruce

    I’ve always been surprised that most smartphone manufacturers put little or no thought into making their products water resistant. I’ve heard dozens of tales of phones being destroyed because some dummy has dropped it into a sink or toilet, etc.

  2. Andrea Verocio

    Nice to see a objective article for once that thinks outside the box.
    I’m not a gigantic fan of iPhones anymore but much of the same should apply to all devices as well.