You've likely heard that the Apple Watch 2 is water-resistant, but one could assume that this means that the smartwatch is waterproof. It isn't. One could also assume that water-resistant means that the Apple Watch 2 repels water. If you assume that water-resistant and water-repellent meet in the second-generation device, you'd assume wrong.
The reason? Apple's fine print tells you this is not the case.
At the Apple Watch 2 announcement (the same day as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus unveiling), Apple said that the Apple Watch 2 locks in the water in a set compartment and releases it after you finish swimming, but the company's words could be viewed as referring to the smartwatch doing these actions all on its own. With Apple's fine print, the fruit company suggests that you manually clear the water from your device all on your own:
When you start a swimming workout, your Apple Watch automatically locks the screen with Water Lock to avoid accidental taps. When you're done, turn the Digital Crown to unlock the screen and clear any water from your Apple Watch. You hear sounds and may feel some water on your wrist. (bold font mine)
Apple's words in the quote above tell us (though in a roundabout way) just what happens when you take your smartwatch on a swim: when the Water Lock function locks the screen, it actually traps water inside the Apple Watch 2 in the speaker (the Digital Crown is used "to unlock the screen and clear water from the speaker," Apple says). This is why you can use the Digital Crown "to...clear any water from your Apple Watch."
The whole reason why Apple encourages you to clear water from your Apple Watch 2 is because water gets trapped into the Apple Watch after a swim. The water is trapped into the speaker, which explains why some may have muffled speakers after a swim. Apple says that charging the device may help the water evaporate, but it's a matter of wait-and-see if you do not turn the Digital Crown and release the water manually.
This may have you wondering: Why does Apple trap the water in the smartwatch's speaker? The answer can be found in that, while Apple has sealed all other components of the smartwatch, the speaker needs air to produce sound (according to the company). Thus, the speaker must remain unsealed - which means that it is the component that will trap water in the event of a pool or ocean swim. This reason may explain why a number of smartwatch OEMs refuse to provide such water resistance for their smartwatches (it seems as though water resistance is called into question when water can get into the watch speaker.
Well, we know that the Apple Watch 2 isn't water-repellent, though Apple says that the device itself is water-resistant to 50 meters. While this means that you can use it in the shower or wash your hands with it on without trouble as well as swim in a pool or ocean, white water raft, and fish, you can't take advantage of the 50-meter water resistance to go scuba diving or any other deep aquatic activity:
Apple Watch Series 2 may be used for shallow water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean. However, Apple Watch Series 2 shouldn't be used for scuba diving, water skiing, or other activities involving high velocity water. (bold font mine)
While 50-meter water resistance appears to be a lot (far more than an IP68 rating at first glance), in reality, it only goes so far. You can go for a swim but can't use the Apple Watch Series 2 for anything above that.
Apple tells us what standard the Apple Watch Series 2 adheres to: "Apple Watch Series 2 has a water resistance rating of 50 meters under ISO standard 22810:2010." This is the numerical name for the specific international standard to which Apple adheres with its latest smartwatch series. What this means is that you can reasonably trust your Apple Watch Series 2 smartwatch to function as all other watches with 50-meter water resistance ratings (just don't go crazy with it).
Well, we knew the device had some measure of water resistance, but with it trapping water in the speaker (that then must be manually repelled), the Apple Watch 2 is nowhere near water-repellent and perhaps not the standard water resistance that can be seen on smartwatches such as the Gear S2 and new Gear S3, for example. If I were a swimmer, I'd like a smartwatch that didn't mandate I turn the Digital Crown to clear it out and protect the speaker on the device – but that's me, I guess. Smartphones that are water-resistant trap water into their speakers, so perhaps Apple's logic here is correct. What it means though, is that your watch isn't as invincible to water as you may have hoped.
What do you think? Were you aware of Apple's fine print about the water-resistant nature of the Apple Watch 2 before reading this? Are you reading Apple's statement now that you've read this post? Does this change your view of the smartwatch, frustrate you, and so on? We're waiting to hear your thoughts.